Pic of the day: Forbidden fruit? (From the anime Azumanga Daioh.)
Body, mind and fat
I keep growing fatter, although the speed may be slowing. This has happened twice before: The first time was when I put the weight on in the first instance, during my year of free dinners (while I worked for Superwoman's father). Then again after I lost so much weight the fall when Superwoman was in Africa. (That's not why I lost weight, though... I had a chronic infection that I then had to take penicillin for. Neither the infection nor the antibiotics agreed with my digestion, as can be expected.)
While this is not the first time I'm growing fatter, it is the first time I am consciously aware of it. I not only follow the weight gain on my bathroom scales, I also note the effects on my mind. For instance, being hungry is no longer the emergency it was when I was thin. Now, I can feel my stomach working when it is empty, and it is unpleasant; but it is not something that engages my whole body and mind. Even though my stomach is hungry, my brain can feel fed. That is to say, it feels exactly as if I had just eaten, except for my stomach. Conversely, back when I was at my thinnest, I would feel hungry even though my stomach was full.
I was about to write that this shows how the body influences the brain. But of course, the brain is part of the body. That would be like saying "the body influences the veins". It sure does, but one could hardly expect otherwise. Rather, the body influences the mind. And even with these two, for each passing year I see them less as two entities connected to each other, and more as the coin and its imprint. Not even two sides of the same coin, that is, but the same side but in a different focus. The imprint or image on the coin is what gives it its value (at least now that coins are no longer made of actual gold or silver). But the image depends completely on the physical metal for its existence. And if you put enough force on the coin, the imprint can be damaged or even altered.
The huge difference between coins and us (besides our much higher value) is that the mind also affects the body. More about that shortly, I hope; there was an interesting article in Scientific American just now about that. But I am growing more suspicious: I think maybe our free will is not quite as wide as we believe. Oh, it is absolute in each case. But in sum, we are gradually dragged along by our body, much like a mighty ship is moved by the currents without any visible sign of its movement.
In the case of the fat, I think of this new feeling as "the voice of the Leptin". The thought amuses me a little. Leptin is the hormone-like substance that is secreted in small amounts by adipose (fatty) tissue of the body. It influences the brain's regulation of appetite, but indirectly and in the long run. (Over weeks rather than from meal to meal.) So I can actually feel this, like a sense, like I can feel heat or cold or dampness. Perhaps I am a weirdo for finding this fascinating, but really... discovering a new sense is pretty amazing, even if it is so dim, it is like only being able to see night from day.
Even when I did not think of it as a sense, it still influenced me. And it still influences other people who don't think of it at all. Surely this is also the case with other "senses". Sex hormones, for instance, don't just regulate "sex" as we usually use the word. They influence some of our mental faculties, like the ability to navigate; testosterone at least seems to influence risk-taking. My biology teacher in high school told about one case she witnessed herself, where a man changed personality dramatically after a blood transfusion, and then gradually reverted back to his normal self. I see no reason to doubt that the same would happen to me. Puts a new spin on the Biblical claim that the soul is in the blood, eh?
Again, I do not doubt that we have free will in each individual choice. What differs is the "objective" background against which we make our choices. If the leptin level in our blood is low, or if the brain lacks the leptin receptors due to a mutation, the we are convinced that we are objectively starving and there are objectively few things in the world more important than FOOD NOW, except possibly an approaching wildfire or armed assault.
Of course, even though my body and my mind are both convinced that I am "phat enuff", the fact remains that some food just plain tastes good. So far the only way to get this pleasant experience is to eat it. I'm still working on this one...
Visit the archive page for the older diaries I've put out to pasture.