Body Talk: Decoding Fat Feelings

“When we accept your selves as we are today and gradually proceed to make the changes we want for ourselves, we have more power to recreate our lives. When we are self-accepting, we   love ourselves for not being perfect already. The burden of self-rejection makes it very hard to change our lives.” ~ Yogi Desai 

“[T]he strange notion that people should fit into clothes replaced the idea, perfectly good until then, that clothes were made to fit the person.” 
~Carol Bloom

“I feel so fat.” “My thighs are disgusting.” “My stomach sticks out.” “My butt is too big.” “I feel huge.”  We hear these comments so often, including within your own thoughts. Sadly, this language has even become acceptable small talk for women. In fact, medical anthropologist, Mimi Nichter, PhD, has written a book about this small talk entitled Fat Talk.

These self-deprecating thoughts and comments, and many more like them, are not facts, are not feelings, and are not even truths. It is difficult for many of us to challenge and move beyond these thoughts and comments. Even those of us who have lost weight have found that these thoughts, feelings, and beliefs either do not change or return down the road—the “fat feelings” persist.

Fat is not a feeling. “I feel fat” is never about the size of your body. It is not about your weight. Even if you really are fat, it is not about that fatness!  Your body is a container for your feelings. Difficult and uncomfortable feelings are often translated on to your body, subconsciously, and then felt as “fat feelings.”

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Rather than feeling angry at someone for crossing your boundaries, you end up feeling fat. Rather than feeling sad that your partner has let you down, you feel fat. Rather than feeling rejected when a someone you thought was a friend snubs you, your thighs grab your attention because they seem huge.

After years of allowing your body to "speak" your feelings, you will get to the point where you are simply not aware this is happening. Most of us never learned how to manage feelings, or self-soothe, so the translation into fat feelings happened many years ago, almost automatically.

The fat feelings feel real. VERY real! In fact, you can see the fat. And you firmly believe that getting rid of the fat will make you feel better. And it does, for a bit. But then you boss calls you to her office and you are wondering how many calories you had that day.

Some of the most powerful work you will do in your recovery is finding out exactly what feelings are behind the fat feelings. 

The next time you catch yourself “feeling fat” (or feeling bloating, huge, unhealthy, etc), slow down, tune in, and with respect and curiosity, ask yourself: In addition to this experience of “feeling fat,” what else am I feeling? Watch your mind try to convince you over and over that your body (and you) are the problem, that your body is to blame. Do your best to challenge these fat thoughts.

About Karin Kratina, PhD, RD, LDN, SEP

Karin can help you escape food and body angst and learn to manage your eating and weight naturally. Visit www.EatingWisdom.com for free handouts, online courses and more tips on mindful, intuitive eating and healing disordered eating.

© 2014 Karin Kratina, PhD, RD, LDN   Adapted from the work of Karin Kratina and Amy Tuttle, LCSW, RD