Sunday, August 14, 2011

That Feeling

To anyone who says fat isn't a feeling, I say: you've obviously never felt fat before.

I KNOW what they mean - fat isn't an emotion. Fat isn't a mindset.  Fat isn't something that should inform your decisions and your lifestyle the way that joy and empathy and curiosity should.

But fat IS a feeling.  A true, physical sensation.  You feel it with every ounce of your body, even if you don't have any actual fat on you.  You feel it when you move, when you sit, when you get dressed, when you shower, when you - God knows - step on the scale.

A couple of months ago when I was in the midst of gaining weight, I remember wailing to my mom, "But I feel faaaaat!"

Now, my mom is one of the most balanced eaters I'ver ever seen.  She tries to be healthy, but indulges occasionally and eats foods she loves with no guilt.  She exercises a few times a week because she loves running and being outside blah blah blah.  She has a normal, healthy body that she treats appropriately and appreciates for being functional.  No, I don't know where I came from.

So naturally, the concept of starving yourself is baffling to her.  In response to my meltdown, she was incredulous: "What?  You think you're fat?"

No, Mom, I didn't say I think I'm fat; I don't think I'm fat.  In fact, I know I'm not fat.  I know that technically, I'm underweight.  I know that people who wear size X jeans cannot ever be considered fat.  I can calculate my BMI in my sleep, and I know that no matter how I play around with the numbers (what if I were half an inch shorter....two inches taller...what if I gained/lost X or Y or Z pounds...what if I shaved my head/clipped my toenails/plucked my eyebrows before weighing myself again...) I do not fall anywhere near the "overweight" category.  So again, Mom, no.  I don't think I'm fat.

But I do feel fat. I feel it when I sit down to eat, and I feel it after I've finished eating.  Not because I believe that one meal will actually make me gain weight instantly, but because my body feels too big and squishy and uncomfortable.  I feel it when I consider taking a day off from working out, knowing that rest is fine and healthy and good, but also knowing that a long sweaty run will make me feel, at least for a little while, better.  Less fat.

Sometimes I wonder if my feeling fat is actually just me feeling normal, and I have forgotten what normal feels like.  I know that the intense physical dissatisfaction with my body probably has to do with emotions - like frustration, insecurity, depression, loneliness, etc.  But I also know that feeling fat is real, and I am insanely jealous of anyone who disagrees.

1 comment:

  1. Have you heard of the book 'The Body Has a Mind of Its Own'? I highly recommend it. It talks about how our minds don't always keep up with physical changes in our body, resulting in really distorted perceptions, and it does specifically address weight loss/gain.

    I totally get what you mean as far as the difference between feeling fat (I agree it's a physical sensation) and thinking you're fat. It's something I've had to explain over and ove to my boyfriend when he tries to reassure me I'm not fat on Bad Body Days. I know that I'm not fat technically, but it doesn't change the sensation, you know? You can know you fall below healthy on the chart and still feel gross, and it's frustrating as hell. Just keep in mind that the sensation is indeed in your own head and isn't how other people see you, and try to soldier through. I find that I need at least couple of weeks at a given weight to really adjust to it and lose the feeling of being in an alien body, but even after that the fat days creep in occasionally.

    Do you have any specific strategies to use to distract yourself on days when the fat feeling is really bad? I know you've got a lot of big events coming up soon and hope you can focus on how awesome it is that you've made it to this point.

    Take care,