Feeling Fat

Posted March 26, 2013 by Katherine Toll in Life After Five

A funny thing happened to me on my way to work this week….somewhere between my home and the client site I ballooned into a grotesquely overweight version of myself. This explosion of body mass sat quietly in the background slowly building its volume for several weeks, but this week my (perceived) enlargement occupied most of my psychic energy.

It became official this week: I admitted to myself I lost complete and utter control over my body (life) and any attempt to establish a ‘healthy’ routine is a futile waste of energy because I (once-again) proved I am incapable of sustaining any type of self-discipline for longer than 12 hours, so I need to just accept the fact that I will never measure-up to standard.  (Standard is defined as size – as in, weight….like a fairly low weight that I achieved by alternatively starving and bingeing several years ago.)

I know it sounds harsh, but so goes my self-chatter these days. Of course, the bitch of it is, I know it’s counter-productive to beat the crap out of myself by imposing an unhealthy and unrealistic standard, but I STILL DO IT! Trust me, I’ve been around the therapy block several times, so I possess all sorts of ‘tools in my toolkit’ to thwart the evil force of the belligerent self-chatter.

But, instead it just feels easier to feel ‘fat.’ For me, fat feels like a gnawing self-loathing that spills into every area of my life. I lose the ability to even remotely identify areas in which I excel. Life takes on an “all or nothing” sort of feeling. I suck at EVERYTHING, or conversely, I am good at NOTHING. (As an aside, I’m fairly sure the latter statement is grammatically incorrect, but it makes my point.)

Oh yes – the point of this? FEELING FAT. While, I feel alone in this sad state of affairs, I know I’m not. This whole notion of feeling fat took on a new meaning for me four years ago when an eating disorder professional asked me how I felt.

I feel fat, I replied.

Mad, sad, glad, or afraid are feelings, but fat is not. Try another word.

 I responded with a phase, Fuck you. (Clearly, my people-skills fly out the window when I feel threatened.)

Yet, the damage was done. The shrew was correct: fat is not a feeling. It was the first time someone forced me to articulate how my ‘fat’ state felt: Useless, worthless, less-than, fake, fraud, found-out, etc. The jig was up – no more hiding behind the eating disorder – my blanket of ‘fat-dom.’

I know this week’s emotional state was so much more than I wanted to admit until just recently. Interestingly, the epiphany came to me during a physical release. My body relaxed into a state of surrender driven by pure fatigue and a little help from my AWESOME Pilates instructor. As my body released, almost simultaneously, my emotions followed my body’s lead and surrendered as well. Finally, my noisy, crowded, enervating, emotional world ceased fire.

I acknowledged what I emotionally dodged all these months – I let myself get sucked back into a professional world, which eschews human frailty. A world that views long hours, late nights, and too little sleep as proof of your commitment to your work. I de-selected from this world four years ago, but for a multitude of reasons, accepted a short-term engagement last fall, which turned into a far longer project than anticipated. Perhaps, my sub-conscious wanted to redeem myself in this world of craziness.

Almost six months later, I realize old habits die REALLY hard. I am highly attuned to my emotional surroundings and when I am tired, undernourished, and/ or stressed, I lose my ability to decipher between my needs and the needs of others. My authentic feelings fall by the wayside and convert into feelings of fatness. Fat becomes an heady catch-all for a bevy of deeper and, yes, more difficult emotions to process.

The ‘fat feeling’ takes over in lieu of a more reflective mind. It sucks up all the time, energy, and emotion of real feelings and acts as the ultimate grand distracter of them.

The moral of the story: I implore you to challenge your ‘fat feeling’ the next time it bubbles up – slow down, calm down, and find the real emotion. Challenge your default setting of ‘fat.’ What lies beneath its surface? Anger? Fear? Poke at it until you provoke a response. It feels uncomfortable, but give it a try. You’ve only your peace of mind to gain and a whole lot of crazy to lose.



About the Author

Katherine Toll

Katherine (Kathi) Toll possesses more than 20 years of management and consulting experience within the retail and beauty industry. Her industry experience combined with her special brand of irreverence fuels her mission to find the ‘must-have’ beauty products for Career Girls of all ages. She aspires to remind women the airbrushed perfection of the beauty industry must be tempered with a healthy dose of humor. Kathi holds a general management certification from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, along with an undergraduate degree from Northwestern’s School of Communications.