As I pull a third shirt over my head, I notice the familiar sinking feeling in my stomach. I toss the shirt into a pile of discarded clothes on the bed beside me. All of them rejected by my inner critic. Catching my reflection in the mirror, I recognize the darkness in my eyes. Five years into recovery and I still struggle with “feeling fat.”
Fat isn’t a feeling…
Intellectually I know this it is not about the food or my body. We have all heard before, “Fat isn’t a feeling.” Yet, if you are reading this article, “feeling fat” is something you relate to.
I understand that when I am “feeling fat” something else is going on. Logically, intellectually, I get it. Yet, in those moments, it is difficult to find my way. Sinking into the abyss of negative chatter can feel inescapable. But rather than allowing myself to drown in the familiar ocean of despair, I try to reach for some truths. They act as flotation devices to keep my head above water.
5 Truths to Hold On To When You Are “Feeling Fat”
1. I Am Not My Body
My body is wonderful and miraculous. It has the ability to heal broken bones and repair scratches and scrapes. I have grown three human beings inside of my body. And it allows me run and draw and dance and hug. Yes, appreciating all of the things my body can do is helpful at times.
But I am so much more than my body. I am the soul that resides within my skin.
Who I am can not be simply reduced to skin, muscle, and bones. I am also the silly, kind, and caring friend who has a goofy sense of humor and a giving heart. My soul is a bright light that wants to create, connect, and share healing and love. With a passion to learn, a drive to make this world a better place, and a sensitive heart- my identity can not be reduced to a body shape or size.
When I am “feeling fat” I remind myself of this. No, I am not just my body. I am so much more than my weight, shape, and size.
2. The Problem Is Not My Body
“Feeling fat” often feels like a personal experience. The truth is: we live in a society that is fatphobic. We are obsessed with an impossible thin ideal. People are treated differently because of their body shape and size every single day. Doctors, friends, and even strangers make judgments about me based on my looks. But the science does not support this myth that our health is determined by our size. Diet culture is based on lies that have not been proven by science.
As Christy Harrison says,
Diet culture is the water we are all swimming in.
While we unfortunately can not escape the society we are in, we can reject it. Whenever negative thoughts enter my mind about my body I remind myself- there is actually nothing wrong with my body. The problem is a society that says my body size and shape determines my health, my worth, and my value as a person.
3. You Are Not Alone
We all compare ourselves to an impossible standard which ultimately leads to feeling badly about ourselves. Sadly it is the norm to hate your body. This why so many people curate their social media feeds with filtered selfies contorted into unnatural poses.
Unfortunately it is a very common experience to see a picture of yourself and immediately feel badly about your appearance. You may catch yourself thinking, “Is that what I really look like?” and in a panic consider shrinking your body. This reaction does not mean there is something wrong with you. And it does not mean you aren’t actively pursuing recovery. It simply means you are living in a society that is obsessed with a thin ideal.
4. Our Bodies Are Meant to Change
From the time a baby is conceived, until the day it dies, it’s body is in a constant state of change. Just one look around at nature reminds us that everything is cyclical.
In a society focused on small youthful appearances, we really do have an impossible goal to strive for. Often when we are “feeling fat” it is because we are comparing our current body to how it looked once in the past. But we are all going to change as time passes. We do not have a choice about that. What we can choose is where to spend our time and energy.
Can you imagine how much more energy you would have if you stopped trying to fight your body’s natural process?
What would it be like if you accepted that your body’s shape and size is out of your control, and instead you focused on living in alignment with your soul’s purpose?
Trying to keep your body the same shape and size it was five years ago is a losing battle. Save your energy and attention for pursuits that will make your life richer and full of joy.
5. How I Am Feeling Right Now Will Pass
When you are in the darkest night, it is hard to remember that the sun will eventually rise again. When entering recovery from an eating disorder, the idea of being free from food obsessions may feel impossible. Emotions come in waves, and they ultimately pass. Just because you are “feeling fat” right now does not mean you will always feel this way.
Next time you find yourself in the depths of feeling horrible about your body, take some deep breaths. And remind yourself of these truths.
You are a strong resilient warrior and you can get through difficult moments.
And you are so much more than your body.