Monday, March 29, 2010

The Fat-Rat 12 Week Challenge

Sesquipedalian: noun. one who uses large words

When trying to read about what the latest research in weight loss, one can become irascible, disjointed, even constipated by all the big, bloated words in these f#$%^ studies!

Dopamine D2 receptors in addiction-like reward dysfunction and compulsive eating in obese rats

So, a big one was published yesterday. Huge. It basically found that fatty food can cause the same type of addictive behaviors that we find in drug addicts. THE SAME. So, naturally, I want to know everything about this study. Here are key points I have decoded so far:

1. The brain releases a chemical, dopamine, when we do something that satisfies us. This chemical releases when we laugh, exercise, have sex, all kinds of natural things. This chemical can overload with the use of some drugs, causing people to crave that dopamine fix. Suddenly, that satisfaction feeling is not as easy to get and therefore drastic measures need to be taken in order to feel that ‘good’ feeling or just to feel ‘normal’. Thus, my friends: ADDICTION.

2. Your brain has a regulator for this chemical, called a receptor. Not only does this help us release the dopamine, but it also helps us determine that we have had enough and don’t need anything else to satisfy us. This receptor becomes dull/ less sensitive in addicts. This is why addicts need more and more and more, despite the fact they are overloaded, leading to possible overdose.

3. So, to do this study, they used rats. They fed the rats fatty food with the equivalent nutritional value of our typical fast foods. The rats got fat. They also started to eat all the time, ignoring when they were full. Later, they gave the rats options to eat the fatty diet or a healthier one. They went straight for the fatty foods.

4. Then, they took away the fatty chow and only offered the healthy food. At first, the rats did not eat, but eventually caved and started to eat the healthy chow. However, once they started, they just kept on eating. In order to keep eating, the rats put themselves in uncomfortable, cramped positions. They even subjected themselves to bright lights; something rats hate, all to eat.

5. Then, they killed the rats so they could look at their brains. (PETA< don’t start). Their brains showed the same atrophy and compulsion factors as those addicted to cocaine or heroin. BRAIN DAMAGE.

So, here is what they didn’t do: they didn’t see if they could break the rats of the habit. This is something I would like to know. Is this brain damage permanent? Once you become a compulsive-eating rat, is there no hope for you, other than removing the bad options? Maybe so. So, now, looking at us, how many of you are these rats? I know I am. I don’t have a cage to regulate myself. I need to use self-control, which apparently is not so easy for me, because like these rats, I have something in my brain that is preventing me. Now, thankfully, I am not a rat and have free-will. This means that I can make good choices, even when I don’t want to. But this study kind of confirms what I suspected: I am not like everyone else. I have a problem that is not easy to fix. I have to have discipline. I have to work harder than the masses. I need to force myself to do the right thing, to make the right choices. If not, I will be the fat rat, stuffed in the corner, with a hot-lamp burning my eyes out.

So, today starts week 12 of my journey. I am going to recommit myself to another 12 weeks after this. I will dedicate these next 12 weeks as the Fat-Rat Challenge. I will spend this week talking about what it means for me in more detail, but basically it means dedicating 12 weeks to healthy food, healthy exercise, healthy choices. I will leave the bad food, the bad energy and all the triggers to my addiction out of my rat cage.

Who is with me? I will start this 12 week challenge on April 5.  Send me a post or an email at  I will come up with some sort of reward for doing this together.  Unlike Pavlov's dog's, we all need a little reward, and not just a bell rung for us.


  1. that I feel like a brain damagaed

    Oh my gosh...that's a long word at the top of your post!! Didn't know I'd learn so much by reading your blog today :)

  2. Really interesting study and information, thanks for the good breakdown of it!

  3. I am definitely a rat too. What a bummer. It is a little freeing knowing it is not just a lack of self-control but daunting to know it may not be "fixable". :( I will consider your challenge & let you know! Thanks for the info.

  4. The new "hidden" blog has been set up...Thanks for the stern warning to the busybody :)


  5. I unfortunately will be away on holiday for 3 weeks during your challenge BUT I will keep up with your progress here! I think it's great that you're going to leave the bad stuff out of your rat cage. That's the way! Be the rebellious rat :)

  6. Great Post! I started to read that study yesterday myself. I agree, but there is one good thing. You can overcome it! I will be emailing you!

  7. I'll be shooting you an email in a little bit:o) I think that my main goal for the 12 weeks (now that I am in Phase 3) is to stick to the 3-2-5 plan with the reminder that more is better (seriously - I get this pounded into my head every week and I think it is finally sinking in) and sticking to my calorie budget.

    12 weeks of healthy food, healthy exercise, and healthy choices should definitely be a good foray into spring for all of us.

  8. My other favorite Thai dishes are Ginger Chicken and of course Pad Thai. But I think Red Curry Chicken is my new fave.

    And I definitely agree with the study about the parallels between being a junkie for drugs and food, although I have to imagine the addiction to things like crack and meth are muhc harder to kick than the addiction to fatty food. But I can't tell you how many times in my life I've eaten a bunch of junk food to cope with something else going on in my life, so I can definitely see why a study like that was done.

  9. Thanks for visiting my blog, and I would love to do a guest post. I also can't wait to read the study and find out specifically what kinds of fatty foods they feed the rats, and then what type of healthy foods that they ate (I would love to see if they try to make all fats bad again like they used to). I think that right now we are moving out of the 'no eating fat', and more into the 'lets not eat crap' food movement.

    I for one like to eat good fats, that in avocados, coconut oil, EVOO, etc...and I really think it is important to have healthy fats in your system...they help with brain function, decreased body inflammation, keep you satiated, and basically, they stop me from binging on those crap foods.

    So let me know the when and where (though May might be better schedule wise), and Ill be here. And I would love it if you wanted to do a guest post on my blog to share your successes, or even random thoughts...