Fat isn’t a feeling.
I cannot count the number of times I have heard myself say and think, “Ugh. I feel fat.” This statement was usually followed by a flow of self-abusive thoughts about how undisciplined my eating habits were, how lazy I was, and how ugly I was. Then I would vow to get my lazy-ass running harder, longer, and farther and vow to cut more calories, more sugar, and more fat. I would get my act together and be healthier!
Can you relate?
What I’ve learned is “fat” isn’t a feeling. Sad, inadequate, depressed, embarrassed, unworthy, stupid, humiliated, grief… these are feelings. They are hard, uncomfortable emotions to feel and explore.
It’s actually easier to project hard feelings outward onto the body because we have a certain amount of control of our body. Going back on a diet or trying a brand new diet gives fresh hope that if we look better then we’ll feel better. Trying out a new exercise regimen, complete with a cute new outfit, shiny new gear, and hot new shoes gives us a buzz of excitement that suppresses the hard emotions. It’s analogous to the buzz you get when you’ve imbibed on just enough wine to make you giddy and relaxed, forgetting the woes of the day. New diet, new gear, new workout stuff is just enough control to make you giddy and charged, forgetting the woes of the real feelings that are bubbling underneath the surface.
Unfortunately, the buzz wears off. And the feelings you were trying to ignore are still heavy and growing worse. The diet is hard, the exercise sucks, and the shine of the new workout stuff grows dull; you blame yourself for not being disciplined enough and motivated enough. Another diet failed. Unworthiness, sadness, frustration, take over. You feel fat. Again.
When you’re feeling fat remember fat isn’t a feeling. Find a space where you can sit in silence and stillness. Close your eyes and identify actual emotions. You’re likely feeling more than one. For me I was often feeling unworthy, embarrassed, and stupid. Through therapy and practice I learned to just sit in those feelings and feel them. I cried. I raged in anger. I went to bed (even if it was 10:30 in the morning.) I wrote in my journal. I prayed. Once I spent an entire day lying on my living room floor in front of the fireplace. I didn’t get up until my kids came home from school. And I felt so much better!
Feelings have to be acknowledged and felt at the roots in order for self-love and body satisfaction to grow. You’ll be amazed how much grace you’ll have for your body when you aren’t using your body to suppress emotions.
May you find peace and love within yourself this week, my friends.