Have you ever woken up one morning and feel completely consumed by the feelings of being fat?
Or what about situations where you were fine just a few minutes ago, and then all of a sudden your brain switches gears… you don’t feel right in your body, something is going on, and the only way you can describe it is..”I feel fat.”
This is a statement that I have heard and said plenty of times. The reality of this phrase is that it simply isn’t what you are really feeling. Fat isn’t a feeling. Fat is part of your body, and a descriptor. For instance, I am a brunette and have green eyes. I have fingernails and cellulite.
You wouldn’t associate any of those words as feelings, would you? Probably not. However, because we have been conditioned to believe that fat is equivalent to emotions such as: shame, insecurity, guilt, unworthiness, discomfort, anxiety, loneliness, anger, or sadness to name a few, we exchange those words with the very generic phrase of “I feel fat.”
It is a lot more acceptable, and easier, in our society to say that you feel fat versus being really vulnerable and dealing with what is really going on within you.
Whenever I used to “feel” fat, there was always another emotion that I was really feeling. Anytime there was a situation occurring in my life that created some form of discomfort, I felt – fat. After doing the internal work I have done, I realized, and now practice, getting behind those emotions that really pop up, and calling the emotions for what they truly are.
Whether it is a disagreement with someone I love.
Not feeling appreciated at my job.
Feeling anxious about money or my business.
Feeling guilty that I said I was going to do something, but didn’t.
Feeling sad for a variety of reasons.
Those are just a few that would be labeled as “I feel fat.” It was way easier for me to slap this label on it, and turn any other emotion back onto my body. In my my mind, I fully believed that if some other discomfort was going on in my body, I was going to be able to relieve or fix it by turning against myself.
You shouldn’t be surprised, but that never really worked long term. Short term…maybe. It gave me a false sense of control, and a really great way to avoid the hard conversations and reality of life.
Vulnerability and being honest with my emotions wasn’t something that came normal for me. It was uncomfortable, and sometimes I didn’t even know WHAT I was really feeling. I just knew it wasn’t right, and I needed to fix that.
It wasn’t fat that I was feeling, it was discomfort in my body due to heavy emotions that weighed my spirit and soul down. Emotions that we ALL go through at some point in our lives, and to a varying degrees.
Normalizing and changing my beliefs around fat was a huge component of me ultimately being at peace within my body and around food. Understanding that fat is just that: fat. That it isn’t indicative of other emotions or descriptors that make me who I am. Having fat or being fat isn’t bad. I encourage you to explore your own ideals around fat, and try to reclaim or neutralize that word for what it is.
I know plenty of fat, happy, confident, beautiful, and rad human beings. I also know plenty of people who are thin, lonely, miserable, and insecure. Your body shape has nothing to do with these other emotions, but that is what we have been led to believe.
When we entangle emotions with a body, we are going to think that manipulating our body is going to fix those emotions. Not only does this set us up for never dealing with the situations that are really causing us discomfort, but it also leaves us in this mentality that a specific body, shape, or size is shameful. We end up putting other emotions that we truly desire like: happiness, confidence, worthiness, beauty, success, joy, and love on the condition of a body.
This is important on both spectrums of the situation, because not only do I hear the term “I feel fat” used to hide other emotions, I also hear, and have also used in the past, that I feel one way or another in my smaller body.
“I am happier when I can see the outline of my abs.”
“I feel beautiful when my scale reads <insert number here>”
Which isn’t the case. Those emotions or desires are completely separate from our physical appearance. So, what is really going on here?
This is how I encourage you to deal with both of those situations:
1) Ask yourself what is going on in your life right now, outside of yourself.
Where are you feeling tension, insecurity, shame, or discomfort? And vice versa if you are telling yourself the narrative that you feel better in a smaller body – what was going on in your life at that point? Get outside of your mind vice-grip, and explore what was going on outside of yourself that may have impacted how you feel.
Your weight isn’t what created that change, ask yourself what really happened? Is it that you didn’t feel judged (because we do live in a fat-phobic culture)? That you communicated better with your partner? That you took time out for yourself versus stretching yourself so thin because you are now a mother? Is it that you enjoyed your job and it was fulfilling?
What else was going or is going on in your life? Because you don’t feel fat, or skinny for that matter. You are feeling something else, you just have to figure out what it is! Or you need to learn how to cultivate those emotions internally in the body you have now.
2) Don’t act upon the compulsions that pop up.
Logically speaking, your body doesn’t change drastically in a short amount of time. You may intellectually understand that, but that doesn’t mean those emotions are not real to you. Instead of acting on what your inner mean voice is screaming at you – breath. Take a moment. Explore what that voice is protecting you against. Don’t do anything. As those emotions that seem really intense will calm, and if you are examining what I stated in the first action step..they may even pass all together because you can deal with the REAL issue, or at least identify it.
Of course there are those situations in which your body does actually change over a period of time, but again…those are their own emotions, and often times our own limiting false beliefs around bodies.
3) If it is something that is triggering you – get rid of it.
Some things are super easy to deal with. Like if you stepped on the scale, or tried on a snug pair of pants, or saw some #fitspo. That is an easy fix. Get rid of the scale, ditch the jeans, and detox your social media account. Although these things are easy, you may stumble across harder situations, like the fact that you have a meaningless job that is sucking the life out of you like a leech. That requires a little bit more effort, but totally worth acting upon and examining.
This is of course a blog that is very surface level of body image work. As there is always the questions of: What if I am fat? What if I actually feel physical discomfort in my body? How do I create those emotions that I once had in my smaller body into this one? How do I let go of my limiting false beliefs? How do I reclaim and neutralize fat? And understanding that we live in a fat-phobic culture, and how that directly affects everyone.
All of which are valid and require a deeper look at body image, which I would be more than happy to help you work through.
Bottom line is this: Your fat feelings (or thin feelings) are a red flag for something else popping up in your body, try to explore what that means. I guarantee you that you are not feeling fat, but some other discomfort within your body. I also promise you that your “thin feelings” are not a result of how small your waist is, and that they are their own beast to tackle.
You may be fat, but you don’t feel fat.
You may be skinny, but you don’t feel skinny.
*PS– please stop saying this term, it is indeed fat-phobic and furthers the ideals that our culture is ingrained with that we all need to move past, say what you REALLY mean. *