Visceral Fat and Diseases
As I began to read all of these medical articles about visceral fat, I was stunned. I couldn’t believe how dangerous and metabolically active this fat really was. As I looked down at my stomach, I completely relaxed it. Looking at myself in the mirror, I visualized a large mass of seething fat, smothering itself all over my organs, and releasing inflammatory chemicals all over my body.
As I looked in the mirror, I tried to visualize just how much visceral fat must be in there. I’ll bet there was so much squashed around my organs, it would easily fill a paint can. The thought of a paint can filled with metabolically, hormone altering, inflammatory causing-fat floating around in my own body made me sick to my stomach.
The Development of My Latest Hypothesis
So as I stood there looking at my body, with this recent knowledge of exactly what this nasty fat is capable of doing, I began to wonder things like…
- If this fat can alter hormone levels, and
- If this fat can excrete inflammatory chemicals, and
- If this fat is associated with a whole slew of medical problems (including cancers, diabetes, and even autoimmune conditions)
Then, is it possible that this visceral fat on my body could be making my cholinergic urticaria severe? I mean, maybe it isn’t the cause of cholinergic urticaria (per say), but could it be making it dramatically worse? Could it be the reason my hives are so terrible? As I began wondering these things, I finally realized something: Aha, I have a testable hypothesis.
The hypothesis goes like this (nothing fancy here): Since visceral fat can increase inflammatory chemicals in the body, alter hormone levels, and more–this could lead to a series of complex changes in the body which can increase the symptoms of cholinergic urticaria.
I can try to find ways to LOSE my visceral fat, and see if this has any bearing whatsoever on my hives. Since this fat is so “terrible,” and since I seem to have piled it up (albeit in a very secretive way), then maybe there is something to it. And in any event, I certainly didn’t want this fat–regardless of whether or not it was affecting my hives.
Some More Interesting Connections Here
So I began to think back about my journey with hives to see if there were any connections of my visceral fat to my hives. Many things began jumping out.
Connection Number 1
The first time I got hives (age 18), I had been eating like a dog for the 1-2 years prior. I am talking a “gain weight at any cost” type diet. I would slam 4-5 hamburgers of Mcdonald’s after school, then get an ice cream cone. That was just after school. During school I would eat, and have breakfast before school, and then eat later when I got home.
This continued, and right before I got hives, my life got VERY sedentary. I would say that from early summer until the point I got hives (around november or so), I did almost NO physical activity. So all this junk I was eating, was getting converted right into hidden fat. Dangerous fat.
Then I remembered something else. Something I had forgotten long ago. Whenever my hives got really bad that first time, I had tried everything to get rid of them. Nothing worked. But for some reason, I had decided to stop eating junk food all the time. I recall I went into a “health kick” so to speak. I was eating broccoli, carrots, and so forth nearly all day long. I also started exercising again. It was around this time that my hives went away completely for 2-3 years.
Connection Number 2
After my hives went away for those 2-3 years, I was looking at pictures of myself. I got really skinny again. I am flexing in a picture with my wife, and my abs are really toned and I have no visceral fat in my relaxed pictures at all. In other words, after this health kick, my body stayed really lean, and my eating habits (while not perfect), did improve quite a bit.
Connection Number 3
Right before my hives came back the 2nd time, I had started my “bodybuilding” kick that I talked about earlier. I was serious business about this, working out 6 days a week doing all these sophisticated exercises I had learned in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Bodybuilding Encyclopedia (by the way, he is a real dog cheating on his wife, eh?).
I also, around this time, began eating like crazy just like I did in high school. I mean I would load up on cookies, drink several glasses of milk, pizza, Chinese food, ice cream, you name it. Since I was working out like crazy, I thought I could pull it off easily.
Even though I was working out like crazy, I was STILL gaining small amounts of weight. A couple pounds or so a month if I recall correctly. But it wasn’t all lean muscle. I was also noticing that my abs were not as sharp as they used to be. But I didn’t care, because I was more concerned with “bulking up,” and not so concerned with “ripping up.”
Then, I quit after about 6-8 months of heavy working out. The only problem? My eating habits didn’t quit. Don’t get me wrong, I am still skinny at this time (and still look skinny now). But my body had secretly been building a stockpile of deadly fat. This is verified in my pictures of my “relaxed” state during this period of time.
Connection Number 4
After all this, my hives slowly came back. First they weren’t bad, but they got progressively worse. Not only that, but all kinds of rashes and weird stuff was happened. Around this time, I had moved out into my first apartment with my wife. We were buying 100% of our meals, and we were NOT eating healthy. As a result, my body went nuts.
So I was trying everything to find out what was going on. I was cutting out foods, doing extreme diets, etc. Eventually I got the rashes under control by eliminating dairy. But I still had hives. Then I learned the “trick” I talked about in my previous post. This trick involved going on a very lean eating habit for about 2-4 weeks, which seemed to improve my hives dramatically.
Connection Number 5
As I began thinking of all these connections, and looking at pictures of my body (and the visceral fat), as it had progressed over the years, I found a picture of my dad. I don’t know if I have mentioned this before, but I grew up without a father. My parents divorced when I was really young (maybe around 3-4), and he moved to Florida (in part so he could avoid child support–which worked).
I never spoke to him again throughout my whole childhood. When I was in my late teens/early 20’s, two of my “half-sisters” went down to Florida in hopes of getting him to be a part of my life. He was nice to them, and I talked to him on the phone, but it was awkward and I could tell he wasn’t really interested in me or being in my life. So I left it at that. He is a school teacher by the way (now retired I think).
Anyway, one thing that came of all this was a picture of my dad. While I am blessed to have my mother’s better looks and skinny body, I had also inherited a curse from my dad. My dad was FAT. I don’t mean a little fat. I mean MEGA VISCERAL “PREGNANT MAN” FAT.
His belly must have stuck out a mile. It was huge. What’s odd–he didn’t have too much subcutaneous fat. But he looked like that “Octomom” girl when she was pregnant with all those kids! Then it hit me like a ton of bricks—I have this gene that stores a huge portion of my fat storage (probably like 80-90%), right in this same area.
It is also interesting to note that he has ALWAYS had a problem with high triglycerides (although I know very little about him or his health). But he had this problem as young as his 30’s, and pictures of this time I can verify he had visceral fat–which is known to be associated with those types of issues.
Connection Number 6
Exercise. Exercise seems to really help people with CU on the forum, and I had always known this myself. But why? Is it because they go into a “refractory period” after a huge loss of histamine? Is it because their bodies get acclimated to the temperature when they get hot every day? Is it because their bodies get desensitized to the sweat?
I didn’t know why. All I knew is that I couldn’t sweat, and working out was nearly impossible. But one thought kept glaring at me: Maybe some of those things help with the exercise, but what if the exercise is also doing something else? What if the main benefit from exercise is that it reduces the visceral fat? What if this continued exercise actually alters the body’s metabolism in a positive way. What if the small hormonal changes are impacting Cu, so as to make it more bearable?
Connection Number 7
Many times on the forum, people’s stories talked about gaining weight. Some women got this when they were first pregnant (which involved hormonal changes and weight gain). Some people talked about how they used to be athletes, and couldn’t work out for a while or stopped doing exercise, and noticed the hives came on. Others talked about just gaining weight in general. Some didn’t, but I saw weight gain as a very recurrent theme right around the time their hives presented.
Pulling It All Together
So as I began thinking of all of these tidbits of information, I began to pull it all together.
1. I had gained weight before I got hives for the first time (maybe 5-10 pounds). This was the first time in my life I had ever even gained weight.
2. I had lost weight and started eating healthy (and exercising occasionally) right around the time my hives went away the first time.
3. My hives were not present the whole time I was eating relatively healthy (for about 1-2 years).
4. My hives returned after I got on my “bodybuilding kick” and started eating to gain weight.
5. I had visceral fat (genetic curse), and obviously had some genes that made my body store fat right in this area in far greater portions than other parts of my body.
6. When I ate lean, my body’s hives improved. For the longest time I knew this trick, but I couldn’t put it together why this happened. I thought maybe I was allergic to something, and after eating rice, it made my hives better by removing the allergen. After pondering on this, I had a thought: It wasn’t the fact that I was removing certain foods that was causing my hives to get better–it was the fact that I was losing weight on this diet! The fat was the common variable in the whole thing.
What’s interesting is that this trick failed this past summer. As I thought about it, I figured out why it failed–I was carrying more weight than before, which means it would have taken a LOT longer to lose. Not only that, but I had a very sedentary lifestyle, and the foods I thought were ‘relatively healthy,’ turned out to be not healthy at all. I was eating a LOT of calories (far too many), and I was slowly gaining fat (without knowing it). So the short time I tried this “trick” this past summer it failed. In part because I didn’t lose enough weight.
7. Exercise seemed to help a great many people (so long as you can do it safely without anaphylaxis). But exercise itself didn’t seem to be a cure-all. Nor did sweat therapy or anything else. They seemed to help some, and in some cases help a lot. But one thing is clear–any exercise is going to start reducing fat. Just how much fat you reduce depends on your diet and amount of exercise.
8. Many people had gained weight, talked about being able to extend their stomachs (likely visceral fat), and more.
Pinpointing My Visceral Fat
So after realizing all of this information, reading about the negative health effects of visceral fat, and seeing all of the potential “connections” of how this could have some involvement–my perspective changed. What if the focus is not exercise by itself, nor diet by itself, but visceral fat? What if that is really the important thing to eliminate here.
I made a decision.
I banged my hand against my office desk, and I said to myself right then and right there–“No more. I am going to get rid of this visceral fat. This visceral fat is my enemy. This may be the reason my hives have gone crazy. Maybe it isn’t. I dont’ know for sure, but it is at least a testable idea. I am going to eliminate this visceral fat to see if it improves my hives symptoms. I will not give up until every bit is gone. Even if I have hives up until the day the last pound is gone, I will not give up until it is gone.”
So right there I made a decision. I didn’t know how I would do it, or what I would do. All I knew is that I know had a new mission: Kill all visceral fat. Do it safely. But do it.
The Challenge–Killing My Visceral Fat
Now that I had seen some connections, and formed a very simple hypothesis that visceral fat may lead to metabolic changes and an increase in inflammatory chemicals which may ultimately worsen CU–I knew I had to get it off. Not just some of it. All of it that was possible to remove.
But how was I going to do this when I can’t even exercise? Would it actually work? How long would it take to see results? These are all questions I had.
After all, I had done everything in the past year to sweat and even exercise. I knew without a doubt that I could NOT sweat. I also knew from a few times of attempting exercise that I can only do it for a few minutes until unbearable hives came out.
So how can you get rid of visceral fat? What can you do? And how did I start to do all of this with SEVERE urticaria, in which case I can’t even sweat or exercise seriously? Check out this next post to learn how to burn visceral fat.
This is yet another post in my recent series of posts how my cholinergic urticaria went from being very severe to tremendously better. If you have not yet read my previous posts, you may want to read them first: