“I feel fat” | What to do when you’re feeling fat
‘Feeling fat’ is something I know well. I spent many years ‘feeling fat’ and hating myself for it.
A number of things caused me to ‘feel fat’. For example:
Seeing a photo of myself where I looked much bigger than I wanted to.
Feeling uncomfortable in my clothes.
If a friend lost weight, and I didn’t.
Scrolling on social media and comparing myself to others.
Overeating or not exercising as much as I wanted.
Unfortunately, ‘feeling fat’ doesn’t motivate you to get healthy. When you ‘feel fat’, your knee-jerk reaction is to go on a diet or bury your head in a tub of Ben & Jerrys’s.
Neither of those things will help you stop ‘feeling fat’ or get healthy in the long term.
But here are some things that can make a difference…
What to do when you ‘feel fat’:
1. Stop trying to lose weight. I mean it…
It may sound counterintuitive but hear me out. It’s the only way.
You’ve spent your whole life trying to lose weight, right? And be honest… where has that gotten you? Not far. Even after all these years. Here’s the thing you need to know.
Trying to lose weight prevents you from losing weight.
Here’s my story. I lost 20kg (45lbs) when I stopped dieting. What you might NOT know is that it took four years to lose that weight.
Averaged out over the four years, that means I lost just 100g (3.5oz) of weight per week.
So if my goal had been to ‘lose weight’, I would have given up when I barely lost weight each week. I would have thought “what’s the point?!”
Luckily, my goal wasn’t to lose weight. My goal was to change my habits and be healthy. It took me a decade of dieting to realise that as long as ‘weight loss’ was my goal, I would keep going around in circles, stuck struggling with my weight.
There’s nothing wrong with your willpower. You’re simply using the wrong approach.
I made health, not weight loss my goal. I stopped asking “Can I eat this?” and started reminding myself that, “Yes, I can eat this”. Then asked “but how will it make me feel?”. Food became a choice. When I stopped trying to control food, food stopped controlling me.
“But didn’t you still want to lose weight?”. Of course, I did!
‘Feeling fat’ sucks. The urge to diet is so strong. But if I didn’t invest in myself then – for the long-term – and make ‘health not weight’ my goal, then I’d still be struggling now. How many more years would I waste ‘feeling fat’ and stuck?
As long as you hold onto your weight loss goals, you’ll stay stuck struggling with your weight, yo-yo dieting and ‘feeling fat’.
2. Stop swimming. Build a bridge instead.
Trying to diet when you ‘feel fat’ is like trying to swim across a river with a really strong current. You can only swim for so long before you get tired and end up back where you started, feeling like a failure.
Instead, I suggest you build a bridge. Sure – it takes much longer, but once you invest in getting solid foundations, you never have to swim across the river again.
How do you build a bridge? You build a healthy relationship with food.
You re-learn how to eat, not for weight loss but for your health. You let go of food guilt.
I teach people how to ‘build a bridge’ and develop a healthy relationship with food in Back to Basics.
As long as you have an unhealthy relationship with food, healthy eating will always feel hard.
3. Shift your habits.
If you “feel fat”, there is something proactive things you can do right now about it. Small habits performed every day add up to make a big difference, that makes you feel healthy, stronger and boost your confidence.
I’m anti-diets and rules (because they don’t work) but I am a big fan of healthy habits and routines. And right now – you need a healthy routine.
Here are some ideas:
Eat a snack just before leaving work each day so you don’t arrive home ravenous.
Carry a water bottle with you.
Cook dinner at home on one more night a week.
- When you cook, make twice as much so you have a healthy lunch the next day.
- Eat one more serve of vegetables.
- Nail a healthy grocery shop or order groceries online if it helps it get done.
- Try Meal Prep Power Hour (something you get every week for Back to Basics).
4. Stick within the ‘enjoyment zone’.
I always tell the Back to Basics community:
20 minutes of exercise you enjoy is better than an hour at the gym that never happens. And of course, five minutes of exercise that gets done is better than 30 minutes you never get around to doing.
If you struggle to lock in exercise, you’re doing it wrong.
The trick is to stay within the enjoyment zone.
Calories and weight loss might motivate you to sign up to the gym, but only enjoyment will keep you going.
i). What type of exercise do you ACTUALLY enjoy? I like walking with a podcast, pilates, yoga and sometimes circuits. What do you enjoy? For years I thought I needed to do high-intensity exercise to make the most of my time but I hated it so I was inconsistent.
When I decided it was OK to only do exercise I enjoyed, I’m more consistent so I end up exercising more over the long term.
ii). Book it in your diary. I book myself in for pilates classes a few days a week (which I have to pre-pay and this helps me not cancel). On Saturdays, I arrange to meet a friend for a walk so that helps ensure that happens. For the other days, I go for a walk with a podcast I love or do Back to Basics workouts (like yoga and BOUNCE workouts).
iii). Exercise is a choice, not a punishment. Which means you shouldn’t feel guilty for not exercising. Rather than seeing it as something you ‘have to do’, realise that it’s something you ‘get to do’.
5. Clear out your wardrobe
Get rid of those clothes that don’t fit you, including the too-tight jeans that make you feel squished and bloated and feel fat.
Stop buying clothes in the smaller size. That is a sure-fire way to ‘feel fat’.
If you want to look good and feel good, buy clothes that fit, regardless of the number on the label. No one else can see the size.
6. You don’t need to love your body.
Feeling fat has nothing to do with your weight. It’s got everything to do with how you feel about yourself.
Even skinny people ‘feel fat’.
It’s totally understandable that you sometimes ‘feel fat’.
Get this: We live in a society when the models on our magazine covers are underweight and photoshopped.
And the mannequins in our dress shops are so small that even the smallest size clothes need to be pinned to fit. No wonder we never feel like our bodies are good enough.
You can spend the rest of your life ‘feeling fat’, worrying about your weight or you can decide that the best thing you can do for yourself is to accept your body.
Here’s the important bit.
You don’t need to love your body or love how it looks.
Instead, let’s work to get you to a point where how your body looks doesn’t make you feel down about yourself.
When your brain is filled with “Oh, I wonder how my body looks right now”, it takes away space from all the other brilliant things you could be thinking about or doing.
And for the record… accepting your body is not code for ‘giving up’. In fact, it’s the opposite. When you love your body, you start to take better care of yourself.
If you want to take steps toward a healthier lifestyle – and get a healthier relationship with food – check out Back to Basics.
It’s designed for people who’ve tried many, many diets… and who are looking for a much more sustainable, doable approach.