Feeling fat.

When my job (and my whole living situation) changed a little while back, I was thrown into body image crises I hadn’t experienced since my early 20s – hating the way I look. Feeling bad about my eating. Zero interest in moving my body. Weight gain.

It is tempting, always so tempting, to rely on the panacea of dieting (or whatever term you like to give to intentional weight loss attempts) to fix these problems. Because, at least in the short term, it can. And when you’re feeling horrible RIGHT NOW, naturally, a quick fix is incredibly attractive.

Here’s how I deal with that urge: I allow myself to have these feelings.

I am not a Body Image Superhero, despite being a Health at Every Size and fat acceptance activist. I go through many more good times than bad, thanks to HAES and FA – but I still live in this culture, and I get all the same messages everyone else does about how I’m yucky and gross and no one will ever want to have sex with me, ever.

My body image is, and likely always will be, a work in progress.

As part of that process, I rely on a Body Image Crisis Algorithm – a sort of Socratic series of questions I ask myself to get to the root of, and solutions to, the crisis. Let’s begin.

So, what’s going on under the hood, beneath disliking my weight or “feeling fat”? What does that really mean?

It means feeling shitty about myself. Feeling undesirable. Not liking the way I look. Feeling socially anxious. Feeling like I am not welcome, and do not belong in this world. Sometimes, it’s feeling physically unfit, and like my eating is very disorganized and chaotic.

Has losing weight in the past helped any of these things?

No, actually. I did like certain things about how I looked when I was losing weight, but it also made me feel weirdly disconnected from my body, and I kept holding myself to higher and higher standards of how I should look. It’s also never helped to make my eating or exercise more healthy and enjoyable for the long-term, and actually caused some disordered stuff there.

Even if it did, or could, help these feelings, is losing weight likely to be a permanent fix?

No. We all know that. The failure rate is somewhere between 80-98% after five years. And given my body’s apparent propensity to gain weight, and given how triggering I find the barest hint of possible food restriction, I seriously doubt I would be one of the lucky ones.

Are there more direct ways of dealing with these problems?

Well, yes. There are body image exercises I can do. There are social anxiety exercises I can do. There are practical, immediate things I can do to help my eating, like eating my meals and snacks on time, offering myself a variety of foods at each meal and snack, and giving myself permission to eat what I want, and NOT to eat what I don’t want. And I have actually been doing that, and I have been feeling a lot better about eating.

[Ed: eating is complicated for me because, ironically, as part of my job I eat strange foods at strange times of the day with my clients. Which makes structure, the part of eating competence that I especially rely on to feel sane around food, uniquely difficult.]

If I’m concerned about weight gain, I can go get a physical – I already know what the factors are that likely have influenced my weight (new medications, major life changes like moving and changing jobs, episodes of depression.) I already know that my blood pressure and blood sugar are good.

What about not feeling welcome in the world?

This one is trickier. It goes to a somewhat philosophical place.

Well, first of all, when you see someone as fat or fatter than yourself, do you feel like they shouldn’t exist?

No, of course not. But then, I’m not a total asshole.

Do you believe most people are total assholes?

It’s tempting sometimes, but actually? No. However, I do know that appearance-based prejudices of all kinds are quite widespread.

That’s true. Maybe prejudiced people don’t welcome you in the world. Does that mean, objectively, that you don’t belong here?

No. I think I belong here. I think I have the right to exist, as I am, and to go about my daily life.

Do you require a welcome from all people in the world in order to live your life?

It’d be nice, but no. I don’t actually require that to live my life.

And is your body objectively wrong in any sense?

No. There is no objective “wrong” when it comes to bodies – it’s mostly a cultural judgment.

Is there a purpose fulfilled even by bodies that are considered outside the norm, or culturally “wrong”?

Yes. “Wrong” bodies add diversity to the population, and even to the sum of human knowledge. They house people who are awesome and valuable in their own right. Even “wrong” bodies allow people to exist in the world and live their lives.

So, could it possibly be argued that the mere fact of a body’s existence may render it objectively “right”?

I guess you could argue that. The cultural tradition is to say that man is made in God’s image.

Do you think there is some truth in that, even from a secular perspective?

Yes. Because I believe in the intrinsic value of all life.

Even yours?

Even mine.

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54 Comments

  1. Carrie Bell
    Posted February 20, 2012 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    I love this article. This helps me. I have a crazy demon in my head telling me I am not ok as is, even though all medical tests say otherwise. I’m 50 yrs old. I want to make peace with myself.

    • Anmarie
      Posted February 20, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

      I know this demon well. You are definitely not alone! And thanks to Michelle, we have a great resource for information (and reassurance) that proves the demon is flat out wrong. :)

    • Posted February 20, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

      You are absolutely okay as is – you’ve just been subjected to a lifetime of training that tells you (and all of us) otherwise. Time to replace that training, bit by bit, with messages that affirm your right to exist.

  2. Risa
    Posted February 20, 2012 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    This came kind of in the perfect moment–the last couple days in particular I’ve been feeling unusually awful about my body image, and now that I think about it I’m pretty sure that it’s not actually that my body’s any different than normal, or that I’m delusional about my body the rest of the time, it’s that I’m emotionally in the dumps and anxious and worn down and low body esteem is my automatic default for being in that not-so-happy state. Thanks for the reminder not to mess with my food too much!

    • Posted February 20, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

      I hope you feel better soon. I know that, for myself, whenever I’m feeling bad about my weight, the answer is always to take care of myself in the best way I know how. And because food restriction and dieting lead me straight into the crazy place, that never turns out to be the way to do it.

  3. Lisa
    Posted February 20, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for this post. Although I’m an FA/HAES activist I do go through bouts of feeling dissatisfied with my body and wanting to be skinner. In the past, these feelings have just made me feel worse about myself because I end up feeling guilty for even thinking about wanting to be skinnier because it feels like a betrayal of fat acceptance. Although I’m generally happy with my body, and I know that losing weight is both unlikely to happen and unlikely to make me feel better, I still struggle with the feelings you’re talking about, because as you said “I still live in this culture, and I get all the same messages everyone else does.” Even though I’m able to deconstruct those messages and reject them as false, they are so pervasive that it’s no wonder they sometimes get me down.

    • Posted February 20, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

      I think the last thing we need on top of having a crappy body image day is to also feel guilty because we are BETRAYING THE MOVEMENT. Your feelings and your body are yours alone to deal with, regardless of how you identify politically. Self acceptance is something I strive toward, and that I practice in many ways a good part of the time, but being imperfect at it doesn’t make me a traitor to anything. It makes me human.

      Being a traitor means being intentionally hypocritical and pretending to believe in something you don’t actually believe in, or talking out both sides of your mouth and telling people to accept themselves, while at the same time encouraging weight loss.

      Being human means accepting that while your ideals may be pure, reality is complex, and sometimes you will be forced into thoughts or actions inconsistent with those ideals.

  4. Posted February 20, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    Wow! It was really helpful to see that whole thought process. Thanks for sharing that.

    • Posted February 20, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

      Michelle – Tried to send this to you in an email but both the addresses I had for you are no good anymore.

      I recently posted something on my blog about where I’m at with this whole subject. I wondered if you read it. I’m at a pretty good place, actually.

      http://www.noveltruths.blogspot.com/2012/02/timing-affirmation-and-logical.html

      If you have time or interest, tell me what you think. If you don’t, no worries.

      Judy

      • Posted February 20, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

        Hi Judy – my email address is still the same, but I think some people are getting bounces and I have NO idea why. It’s been an ongoing problem and I’m trying to figure it out. Thanks for leaving a comment in the meantime. I’m definitely going to read your post :)

  5. Jessica
    Posted February 20, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    Judy… thank you for this. You know the one thing that is not talked about in our community is our junky days. I wish that somewhere there was open dialogue about this topic. Interestingly enough you brought something forward that I experienced but did not know how to identify, “feeling socially anxious and not welcomed”. I had that experience on Friday and actually started going into an anxiety attack which included berating my body because of my limited mobility (I can happily say that I won that round and participated in my life anyway). Thank you for posting these questions… I can tell you that I will refer to them often, there’s lots of truth in them.

    • Posted February 20, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

      I’m so glad you got past the attack – I’ve had similar episodes, and looking back it strikes me as so weird that we live in an environment that makes us feel like we have to apologize for having any kind of impairment. How nonsensical is that? At best, your limited mobility provides a minor inconvenience for other people, but it’s a constant part of your life that you manage to live with every single day.

  6. Anmarie
    Posted February 20, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    Here’s my current “somewhat philosophical” view: When I’m headed down that old road, knowing that demon is telling me lies but feeling them tug me along anyway, it helps me to remember that the world is FULL of variety. Looking out my window I see at least 5 types of trees, and of course there are thousands more. Same with flowers. Some are tall, some are round, some are pointy, some are wavy, but all are unique and all are beautiful. The same is true of bugs, birds, fish, mammals…even clouds! None of these are better or worse than their counterparts…just different. From this perspective, it’s easier for me to see that, like other living things, variety is purposeful, and very ok.

    • Posted February 20, 2012 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

      Thank you, Anmarie. That is a beautiful perspective and really resonated with me.

    • Posted February 21, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

      Intraspecies diversity rules.

  7. Alexie
    Posted February 20, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    An hour ago, I was in a German gym, where I had an epiphany about body image – those of us who come from English speaking cultures feel more shame about our bodies, because bodies are kept from us unless they are ‘perfect’. Here, there is a culture of bodies being normal. Women walk around the change room naked and there are no shower curtains. This evening, I saw bodies of all kinds and was in the same shower area as the gym instructor. She’s super fit and young, but she doesn’t have a perfect body. Neither did the middle aged woman standing next to her, soaping without any inhibitions. Before I went to the gym, I was in the supermarket and mentioned to my partner how the faces on the magazine covers weren’t air brushed. Women are presented au naturel, wrinkles and all.

    After being in this culture for several years, I feel great about myself. Cancer treatment left me with a wonky rib cage and massive abdominal scars, plus lots of saggy tissue and prominent, ruined veins on my arms. I no longer care. I truly don’t. The reason is because I see plenty of normal bodies around me, so I don’t feel like I’m being held to some ridiculous ideal.

    When I was in the US last year, I looked at some magazine covers. The airbrushed models didn’t look attractive to me – they looked creepy.

    Body shame isn’t just about measuring up to a modern ideal. It’s the result of centuries of crushing attempts to control women’s sexuality and in the West, it’s particularly bad in the English speaking world. Every time women feel lousy about themselves, there are a whole bunch of dead Puritans who are smiling about it, because it’s their legacy that’s at work.

    Which is another way of saying it’s not you, it’s them. Don’t internalise their crap.

    • Jill
      Posted February 21, 2012 at 6:20 am | Permalink

      Yes, yes, this exactly. I think my own good body image (as a fat woman, no less) has been definitely aided by having been in environments of nonsexual nudity (locker rooms, hot tub parties, Finnish saunas, naked hiking, etc) and seeing what real people look like. I just cannot fathom the airbrushed ‘ideal’, as it looks cartoonish to me.

      I grew up in the western United States among some fairly body-accepting people, and I live now in England, where there is a cultural norm for a speaker to make a knee-jerk joke at nearly any mention of nudity. If the speaker doesn’t do it, the listeners jump in to do so. If the nude person mentioned is male, or both the mentioned person and the speaker are female, it is all but obligatory to say something along the lines of ‘…and nobody wants to see THAT!’. If the nude person is female and the person making the joke male, the norm is to say something lewd, usually something indirect but unmistakable. Even after years in this country the reflexive nastiness and revulsion around nonsexual nudity jars me. The biggest moment of culture shock I’ve experienced was going swimming in an indoor pool and returning to the women’s locker room to see signs telling us to keep our swim costumes on while showering. I was greatly distressed.

      I much prefer the physical culture of Finland, and of Germany.

      • Posted February 21, 2012 at 10:42 am | Permalink

        This is one of the reasons I love our local YMCA — the same type of body-neutral, non-sexual nudity in the locker rooms. I never feel out of place.

        I once went to an awesome old-style Russian bathhouse here in the U.S. They gave you a sheet to wear only in the locker rooms and down the hall to where they offered massages. When you went into the sauna, whirlpool, etc. area, you were allowed nothing but basically a dishtowel — a small towel big enough to sit on in the saunas. They had a newspaper article posted about the place where they explained that you could tell the newbies — they’d be moving their towel from crotch to breasts to butt, trying to make it cover everywhere. Me, I stalked in naked and proud and loved it!

        • Tikki
          Posted February 22, 2012 at 9:44 am | Permalink

          Where is this bathhouse??? It sounds amazing!

          • Posted February 22, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

            Denver – Lake Steam Baths. AWESOME place!

            I actually went there as part of an all-women’s writing retreat. The woman who ran it always found some reason on her retreats to get everyone naked so that we could reconnect with our bodies and reconnect with other women.

      • Posted February 21, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

        The first time I got naked in public was at a Czech spa, and it was totally freeing in some way. It was like, they’re just bodies. Everyone has them. They’re all kind of the same, but kind of different, and no one either needs to hide or run away screaming.

  8. Alexie
    Posted February 20, 2012 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    I don’t mean to suggest it’s easy or trivial, by the way. Nobody has to be a HAES/FA super hero.

  9. Jerome
    Posted February 20, 2012 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    I found a lot of the early anti-diet literature (Geneen Roth, Susie Orbach) to be very helpful in terms of helping me to separate “feeling fat” from whatever is actually going on, and to understand that feeling fat is generally mental shorthead for emotional discomfort of some other kind. Sometimes, I am able to look at fat days as a (really shitty) gift because it’s my first clue that something is up with me. That being said, none of those authors are fat accepting as we understand it now. Can anyone recommend some current books to read?

    • Posted February 20, 2012 at 11:59 pm | Permalink

      Hi Jerome,

      Please forgive me if you are aware of any of these — I am still fairly new to this concept and did a lot of research lately. Thought I would share what I found helpful:

      I recently found a website called First Ourselves that has helped me tremendously. Although there are a range of perspectives – some have not necessarily given up on dieting – it’s the overall message and guidance on the site that I’ve found helpful – treating yourself compassionately and really getting to the root of why you feel the need to diet and how to address various forms of disordered eating.

      Another great book is Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat by Dr. Michelle May. She also has a blog here: http://www.eatwhatyoulovelovewhatyoueat.com/ My sense is that she’s made the transition from mindful/intuitive eating to a true anti-diet perspective. The book is more from her earlier perspective so you may gain more from the blog.

      And you may already know this one, but Health at Every Size by Dr. Linda Bacon is tremendously enlightening. For me, this is THE BOOK to read. There is a website that I believe she maintains with lots of resources: http://www.haescommunity.org/

      Best, Cara

      • Posted February 21, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

        I haven’t read Michelle May’s book, but she seems great.

    • Posted February 21, 2012 at 12:00 am | Permalink

      Oops, forgot the website for the first one. It’s

      http://www.firstourselves.org

    • Posted February 21, 2012 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

      I would definitely recommend Fat!So? by Marilyn Wann. Also Lessons from the Fat-O-Sphere by Kate Harding and Marianne Kirby.

  10. Lisablue
    Posted February 20, 2012 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    Yesterday, I had a shitty thing happen that left me feeling out of sorts. In the mornings I drink my tea and read twitter on my phone. This morning as I was reading twitter I saw that you’d posted, and raced over to read what you’d read.

    When I got to this point: “Feeling like I am not welcome…” my stomach loosened, my shoulders moved down, and I went “A HA!” That is the major source of my “out-of-sorts-nesses” when they happen. And I didn’t know, until you’d written it, until I’d read that. Even before I got to the end of what you wrote (which is brilliant as always). Thanks Lady.

  11. Posted February 20, 2012 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    “And when you’re feeling horrible RIGHT NOW, naturally, a quick fix is incredibly attractive.”

    If you think losing weight is a “quick fix”, then you clearly do not understand the difficulties involved in weight loss or have totally lost all empathy and understanding of the emotional and physical struggles involved in the process.

    Losing weight in a manner which is sustainable is emotionally and psychologically as hard or harder than body acceptance. Perhaps the fact that few people can maintain the lifestyle alterations that go into such things is a reflection of the lack of understanding of that element of the process. The process has torn me apart psychologically. It’s incredibly condescending and dismissive to assert that this was some sort of trivial “quick fix” next to what you obviously feel is a harder and more noble path to fat acceptance.

    • Posted February 20, 2012 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

      What. I meant that attempting to lose weight, thus feeling like you’re “doing something” is a sort of quick fix. Deciding “I’m going to go on a diet now” is a quick fix – not the process of losing weight itself.

      I don’t think dieting is easy at all. It had a severe and negative impact on my own health and sanity. In fact, I think weight loss is so difficult that it doesn’t actually end up working long-term for the vast majority of people! Seems like maybe we agree.

      I think you’ve misunderstood me. I’m sorry if I somehow came off as condescending, but damn. This was kind of unnecessarily harsh.

    • caseyatthebat
      Posted February 21, 2012 at 12:09 am | Permalink

      SFG, I found your comment to be the one lacking in empathy. This is clearly a HAES / FA blog, meant to be a safe space for developing a healthy relationship with food. By its very nature are dismissive of weight-loss dieting – precisely because of what you’ve written here. We are here, not because we lack understanding of the process or how difficult it is, but rather because we know it too well, and we are tired of the damage it inflicts. In reading your comment I felt that you wanted recognition for hard work in trying to lose weight, but this is not the place for that – that’s not meant to be dismissive of you (or even your hard work); but rather, to protect this space from the triggering aspects of such a discussion. You just need to read anything that Michelle has written on the matter to understand the depth of her empathy on the matter.

      • caseyatthebat
        Posted February 21, 2012 at 12:12 am | Permalink

        *it is dismissive.

    • Goosiegoose
      Posted February 21, 2012 at 8:51 am | Permalink

      There are a million other places on the intertubes that will give you kudos and hugs for trying to lose weight by dieting and exercise (which, from your blog, looks like what you are trying to do? )

      This is not that space. I believe, from all that I have read from Michelle over the years, that she talks about and recognizes how hard it is to diet: you have to have an extreme amount of willpower to deny your body the nourishment it needs. I come from a history of disordered eating, and I know how much intense focus and dedication it takes to devote a huge chunk of your waking hours to calorie management, to planning out what you can and can’t eat, to obsessing around food and weight and calories.

      But for about 90-95% of people, it’s all for nothing. The weight will come back, plus more. No matter how you want to re-name, re-package, or otherwise restyle your diet.

    • Posted February 21, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

      It appears like a simple misunderstanding. No one here believes weight loss is a quick fix, certainly not Michelle. Maybe I can help clarify – the choice to diet, for me, is a quick fix. I can tell my friends and family I’m counting calories or joining Jenny Craig and I win their approval before the first pound has been shed. It removes the anxiety and judgment at that moment.

      No one knows how difficult dieting is for another person. Not Michelle, not you, not your sister or your friend. It is completely unique for every person and cannot be compared. There may be some in the fat acceptance movement who believe it’s more noble to abstain from dieting, but I sense that you won’t find them here. This is truly a safe place for someone like me.

  12. Gina
    Posted February 20, 2012 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

    It was by happy chance that I stumbled upon this blog today, and I’m so glad I did. It was exactly what I needed to read. I have been struggling with body image hang-ups since the age of eleven. I’m thirty-one, now, and for the majority of the past two decades, I have been trying (and miserably failing) to conform to what society says is acceptable. It is only in the past several years that I’ve actually tried to accept myself the way I am, but even still, I so often find myself falling into that old trap. I still can’t truthfully say I’m comfortable in my own skin. With the word “SKINNY” screaming at you from every direction, it’s incredibly refreshing to hear someone say, “You are absolutely okay as is.”

    • Posted February 21, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

      I think it bears repeating: You are absolutely okay as is :)

  13. Cairsten
    Posted February 20, 2012 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for this. I’m in a strange place right now, and I really needed it. I moved to Australia a month ago (finally). There are many up sides to the move (being with the fiance, finally being out of the limbo of the last few years, access to health care, access to enjoyable sport in the form of a pool membership.)

    There are also some downsides — there are not many people who look like me. There are many tall, thin white people, and many small and delicate-looking Asian people of various nationalities, but I’ve seen maybe five other black people, and they were all slender too. Shorter than I am, narrower shoulders, small hips, thin. By comparison, I feel like a behemoth, and if that wasn’t bad enough, I am simultaneously job-hunting (what will they think of me at interviews?!) and planning my wedding (I love that dress, but it only goes to size 16. I am size 20.)

    Between the two, it is a struggle to remind myself that food did not become less of a necessity when I moved, and that no, I know where having a single slice of toast and a cup of water all day gets me, and it isn’t “thin.” So far, I am clinging to sanity by my fingernails still, but, well. This stuff is hard, and I hate it.

    • Posted February 21, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

      I hear you. I’m sorry you’re in place where you feel so far outside the norm – that is a really hard situation. It also makes taking care of yourself so much more necessary and useful. And it forces you, in a way, to start to value yourself on your own merits instead of that valuation being contingent on how well you blend in with your surroundings.

      Even if no one else looks like you, you are totally as you should be, otherwise you wouldn’t exist. The world needs you, for reasons unknown, and it needs you THIS WAY, as you are – if it didn’t, it would be easier to change. Keep your fingernails sharp and keep clinging.

  14. Posted February 21, 2012 at 12:59 am | Permalink

    I loved this post! I used to “feel fat” all the time when I had an eating disorder and it is such a blessing that I rarely feel that way anymore. Reading fat accepting blogs was a big step in changing the way I think. I linked to your post in my latest posting. I hope you don’t mind. http://hopeisreal.blogspot.com/2012/02/quote-recipe-and-lots-of-fatshion-fun.html

    • Posted February 21, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

      I don’t mind at all, thank you! I love your blog’s focus.

  15. Posted February 21, 2012 at 6:35 am | Permalink

    I can’t help but think how funny it is – you never hear anyone complain “I just feel so… buxom today”. I have always felt that fat isn’t a feeling. Pity and shame are feelings, feelings that dieting and size-focused exercise do not resolve. Anyway, this is a subject I’ve thought much about (and written a little about too)! Thank you for writing!

    • Posted February 21, 2012 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

      I’m totally feeling 5′ 5″ today.

      • Posted February 21, 2012 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

        Now that I think about it, today I’m feeling slightly long-armed.

  16. Posted February 21, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    I’m in this place where I started working on not dieting anymore almost a year ago, and I actually lost a tiny bit of weight and then plateaued. I was so happy. I was putting NO effort into eating, just doing my thing, and my weight was staying the same!! Then, within the last few months, my weight went up about 5 pounds. I’ve plateaued there again, and I guess I should be happy, but I’m not. I am not trying to lose that weight, but I am ashamed of it, and I feel terrible and a million other bad feelings. I’m trying to deal with it and get myself back into a mindset of “no diet, I accept that this is what my body wants” but I admit that I’ve been thinking of going back on calorie restriction just to get back to where I was.

    There is just always this constant balance of trying to keep my head on straight about all of this. I’m glad I’m not the only one who has trouble. It’s just eating normally – you would think it wouldn’t be so hard!

    Anyway, thanks for this post. I’m still working on accepting myself.

    • Posted February 21, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

      I hope you give yourself so much credit for the huge advances you’ve made in your eating. Those changes are far more important than the minor weight adjustments that have happened after the fact. If you can, get rid of your scale – it’ll help you to keep your focus where it belongs, which is on taking care of yourself.

  17. Posted February 21, 2012 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

    I had a mini ephiphany while I was reading this. I have a fairly ok relationship with food. But I do not have a healthy relationship with activity/exercise. And when I feel crappy, when I most need to move my body in ways that make me feel good and fit inside myself properly, that is when I automatically want to just crawl into bed and sit on the couch and grump because I am a failure and everything is too hard, and I don’t deserve to have fun activities, I must only have Exercise, which is by definition boring and hard and punishment.

    Now I’ve worked out this weird brain loop, I can do something about combating it. So, thanks :)

    • Posted February 21, 2012 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

      Oh I hear you! Nothing turns me off exercise like feeling as if I should be doing more of it, like I owe it to some random being to blah-de-blah. I think if I respect myself I have a moral obligation to NOT do what I’m told.

  18. m
    Posted February 22, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    re decoding fat thoughts the work of Jane Hirshman and Carol Munter empahasises decoding BBT’s (bad body thoughts) http://www.overcomingovereating.com

    • Posted February 22, 2012 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

      This is a great resource – thank you.

  19. Elysha
    Posted February 26, 2012 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the post.

    Just as an aside, I sometimes sarcastically wonder if that “most diets end up failing” statistic is in any way affected by a small percentage of people who get real and give up the dieting ;)

  20. Kate
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    It’s like you just took a long hard look inside my head & gave me the answers I’ve been seeking. I’ll be sharing your blog with my other friends. Thanks for your openness, honesty and compassion – for yourself and others. xx

  21. Ruth
    Posted March 7, 2012 at 4:50 am | Permalink

    Thank you for this. I’ve just begun walking the HAES path, and I’m having a tough time with it. I am trying to listen to my body and eat what it asks for, but that’s tricky after a lifetime of dieting and generally picking on myself. I read Linda Bacon’s book, and I’m reading many of the HAES blogs, and I’m traveling on faith right now. What I am COMPLETELY sure of is that dieting has never done me any good at all.

    I’m staying off the scales, but am terrified that I might be gaining weight. Reading your article, I realize that most of what I’m feeling is fear. I am afraid of getting so big that I cannot move comfortably. I am afraid of rejection and “not feeling welcome” (so well put!) I’m afraid of visits to the doctor (I really need to find a kinder doctor.)

    Thank you for breaking down the inner dialogue. It helps me recognize it in my own head. One step at a time, right? Self acceptance, self love. So simple to type, so elusive!

  22. Katie
    Posted April 19, 2012 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    I like the article. It’s funny how when you are struggling with your body image and how you feel about yourself, it seems like you are the only one who gets trapped inside the vortex of accompanying destructive thoughts. You feel like you are trying to keep your head above water and learn to be happy to be alive while others seem to have been born with the ability to accept themselves and flourish in life so naturally. You feel so alone and so condemned. It’s nice to know that nobody is alone in this, although it makes me sad that so many of us wrestle to be at peace with who we are. I wonder why.

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  • By Fat Acceptance and Weight-Loss Shame « Bookram on November 7, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    […] I was reading an article by the Fat Nutritionist about what it was like “feeling fat”, and I’ve never felt so… ashamed to want to lose […]

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