What Does “I Feel Fat” Really Mean?

I know, this is a very provocative question, right? 

I cannot tell you how often I hear my clients say, “I feel so fat!” (and fat isn’t a bad thing) or “I just hate my _______ (fill in the body part)”. I get it. There was a time when I would often say things like this too. It’s much less often now, but when I realized that all of that hating was just a distraction from looking at the underlying emotions that were really causing the lack of body acceptance, things began to change for me.

To help my clients with this, I’ll weave intriguing questions like this one into our discussions to uncover what could be going on beneath the surface. When we dig a little deeper we’ll discover, for example, that they’re feeling discomfort about establishing boundaries with a family member or friend; they’re lacking confidence in a particular area; or they’re feeling unworthy or “not enough” in some capacity of their lives. Or, if they’re still entrenched in diet mentality, they could also be feeling guilty about a food(s) they recently ate and it’s masquerading as body dissatisfaction. (HINT: This is why it’s so important not to ignore body image issues.) Asking these questions helps my clients experience a shift in perspective or belief. When this happens, the proverbial light bulb goes off in their minds which creates space for new thoughts and behaviors to begin developing. This is where the seeds for real growth are witnessed. 

Fostering this awareness can be a game changer in relation to improving relationships with food and body acceptance. If we continue to believe that having X type of body and/or seeing X number on the scale will make us happier and/or feel fulfilled, we will continue to be dissatisfied and frustrated with our current weight, body and life. On the contrary, when we are willing to translate what these harmful messages are really trying to tell us, the possibilities for healing grow exponentially.

I’ve attached a free resource for you to use the next time you find yourself saying “I feel ______ (insert negative word here).” This image was created by Me and My ED . I encourage you to check out their website for other great resources. Click here to download your help sheet.  

How is this concept landing for you? Do you believe that your constant or occasional body dissatisfaction could be an indication that there is something deeper to explore? 

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The Importance of Faith in a Diet-Free Journey

One of the most important things that has helped me in my Intuitive Eating and body acceptance journey has been faith. Not necessarily faith in terms of God/Source/Universe or a Higher FaithPower, although it doesn’t hurt to have that too if that’s your thing, but to believe and have faith that things could be different.

I’ve always been honest and said that when I first read the Intuitive Eating book, I was skeptical that I could experience the kind of freedom and peace that they described. After all, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch (the authors who I later trained with) didn’t know the depths of my disordered eating.

They didn’t know that I had suffered for years with an undiagnosed eating disorder.

They didn’t know how ashamed I felt about my binge and emotional eating.

They didn’t know how embarrassed I felt about expanding and shrinking my body.

In my mind, I was the most disordered eater on the planet! Most days I believed that I was beyond help and that my life with food and body would never change. However, after reading a good portion of the book and nearly convincing myself that it was all BS, I could hear a little voice inside of me said Yeah, but what if it could work for me?”

That little voice was telling me to have faith! Faith that…

  • My life with food and my body could be different.
  • My obsessive thoughts around food could one day subside.
  • That I could find comfort in my body regardless of what I weighed.
  • That I might be able to experience a magical transformational like others I had read about.
  • That I could eat one or two cookies (if that’s all I desired) without feeling compelled to eat the whole darn dozen!
  • That I could feel less guilt and remorse around my food choices.
  • That my relationship with movement could be more balanced and less focused on just burning calories and/or punishment for what I had eaten.
  • That all of this might be possible if I tried Intuitive Eating.

So, I tried it.

At first, I was excited to be free from dieting. However, shortly after the excitement came the fear and feelings of overwhelm. It sounded kind of easy when I read about it, but putting it into practice was a different story! That’s when I hired my first coach. I believed freedom could be mine, but I knew I needed help, so I got it.

It’s true that, at first, I was a little overwhelmed by all ‘mechanics’ of Intuitive Eating. She helped me with that, but what I really needed support navigating around was all the emotional stuff that surfaced when I stopped using food as my only coping mechanism. And, she also helped me to see one of my biggest blind spots which was my lack of consistent self-care. No, I’m not just talking about the occasional manicure and pedicure! I’m talking about big girl panty stuff like:

  • Learning to establish boundaries with friends, family and co-workers.
  • Starting to embrace that body acceptance wasn’t giving up but was a step toward true contentment.
  • Understanding that to heal, I had to approach my disordered eating with curiosity instead of judgment.
  • Understanding that self-love included all of me…even the emotions and behaviors that we’re so pleasant.
  • Acknowledging that my chronic ‘comparisonitis’ was linked to my profound feelings of unworthiness. Gulp!
  • Recognizing my own prejudices about people in larger bodies.
  • Forgiving myself and others.

Like I said, big girl panty stuff! 

Discovering food and body freedom is a journey that never ends. Based on my personal experience, and the experiences my amazing clients have had, faith needs to be an essential part of the journey. To succeed, you’ll need to have:

Faith in yourself.
Faith in the process.
Faith in your body.

So, if you’re in a precarious place right now in your journey, perhaps sprinkling in some faith may help to change your perspective. Holding a vision for what you want in your life is one of the most powerful ways to create it. Without faith, it’s too easy to give up and return to disordered eating behaviors (diet mentality, food policing), abusing movement, engaging in chronic negative self-talk, etc. 

Remember, dieting is much easier than Intuitive Eating. Those who are courageous, open to change, and prepared to live a new life will likely come out on the ‘other’ side transformed. It doesn’t happen overnight, but being consistent, having reliable support measures in place, and remembering to have faith in yourself and the process most often yields freedom! I’m living proof!

I’d love to hear from you. How has faith been a part of your no-diet journey? Feel free to share with us in The No-Diet Sisterhood

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