“I feel FAT.” Three words. Three words that carry a lot of ‘weight’. ‘Heavy’ words that you hear, say, or think every day, or every 15 minutes in some cases. You may go to bed at night feeling totally awesome and wake up the next day feeling FAT. Logically, you know that during the night or over the course of the day, you haven’t somehow grown a third butt cheek – but it doesn’t matter, today you don’t feel happy, sad, angry, anxious or lonely – no, you feel FAT.
What exactly does feeling ‘fat’, feel like? Not the physical state of actually being overweight, but the way that many of us feel on a given Tuesday, but not on Wednesday kind of fat? I think it’s safe to say that a lot of us use ‘fat’ as an emotion. Maybe you had a bad day at work, someone said something that hurt your feelings, you had a fight with your significant other, your workout was less than awesome, you didn’t make it to the gym, you ate a cookie, you’re stressed beyond stressed – whatever the situation may be, instead of actually feeling angry, disappointed, sad, etc., you choose to feel ‘fat’. We’re using a word that’s a physical state as an emotion; but, feeling ‘fat’ and truly being ‘fat’ are two very different things. Recognizing that is kind of a big deal.
Let’s break this down and see what the dictionary definitions of emotion and fat are.
Emotion: a conscious mental reaction (as anger or fear) subjectively experienced as strong feeling usually directed toward a specific object or situation and typically accompanied by physiological and behavioral changes in the body.
Fat: having a large amount of excess flesh or body fat.
There’s a difference, huh?
You’re all going to be subjected to a story about me (I apologize in advance). My history with food, weight and exercise is rocky to say the least… I have spent a pretty good share of my life feeling ‘fat’. For anyone that’s met me or knows what I look like, that might seem like the bat-shit craziest thing you’ve ever heard, but I don’t make this stuff up, I’m not very good at writing fiction. It’s real. In fact the lower my weight is, the more stress I’m under or the more tumultuous my life is, the ‘fatter’ I feel. The harder I try to block my real feelings – the ones that hurt, that might make me angry or make me cry – the fatter I feel. There’s no need to feel lonely, angry, sad, unappreciated, etc., when I can just feel fat instead. Saying, “I feel fat.” is effectively the same as saying, “I am choosing not to feel.”
If you feel angry, and someone asks you why you’re angry, you probably have a pretty darn good reason and you don’t answer with, “because I am”. Instead you’ve got a story about the jerk that rear-ended you, or your boss telling you that you have to work on Saturday. But, if you feel fat, and someone asks why, what’s your answer? You can try the “because I am”, but that’s not going to fly for a good majority of you. I’ve tried that answer – shot down, every single time. So, why do you feel fat today? What’s really going on under the ‘fat suit’? What feelings are buried? It’s okay to dig them out and face them – in fact, do it now because the deeper they get pushed the fatter you’ll feel and the more painful it will be to un-fat yourself.
Know that you don’t just wake up fat. You don’t get fat after one bad meal or one missed workout. The way you look in the mirror and how you feel on the inside, while not necessarily mutually exclusive, should not be confused. You can’t ‘feel’ fat as an emotion – fat is a physical thing. Have you ever said, “I feel muscle”? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Next time you “feel fat”, ask yourself why you feel that way. Is it because you haven’t been eating well or working out? Are you feeling anxious about something, are you scared, lonely, sad? What’s really behind the ‘fat’?
If you’ve been spending more time feeling fat than you have feeling real emotion- happy, sad, upset, disappointed, excited, anxious – know that it’s okay to take off the mask and really feel. It hurts sometimes, but you’re tough (Yes, you are, now start believing it!). Feeling fat is easy – I know, I’ve been doing it for 23 years – but it’s not until you make yourself stop ‘feeling fat’ that you start living. Don’t waste another second trapped in your ‘fat suit’.