I Feel Fat…Can Anyone Relate?

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I feel fat.  Not just today…everyday.  No matter what I weigh, I feel fat.  I cannot remember a time in my life when I didn’t feel fat.

I realized today that my current weight is about the same as my weight was when I was 9 months pregnant with my first child, over 14 years ago.   I keep thinking that if I were pre-pregnancy weight right now, I wouldn’t think I was fat.  But I probably would.  No, I definitely would.  Because I seem to have a distorted view of myself.  It isn’t logical…but it’s still very real.

The extent of this problem became clear to me today when I chose not to go to a reunion picnic (old friends from high school) because I feel fat.  I figured they would look at me and say, “Wow, Kim got fat,” and that would be all they would see.
  •  I also stay away from the pool at all costs…like the cost of missing out on time with my kids because I don’t want to be seen in a bathing suit.
  • I feel hesitant about going to my husband’s work parties because I don’t want people to say that he is married to a fat girl.  (He’s in terrific shape…very lean and strong.  He works out 6 times/week and watches what he eats).
  • I HATE to have pictures taken of me, so I become the photographer for every event.
  • And the list goes on.
Logic tells me…
  1. I’m a bit chubby, and definitely out of shape, but I’m not fat.
  2. There are many women in the world who would be perfectly happy at my weight.
  3. If I want to change it, I can change it.
But against all logic, and to be totally transparent, I’m disgusted with myself.  That’s a bad feeling.

I think about it everyday, in every situation.  I look at every other woman I see and evaluate whether she is bigger or smaller than me.    I’m not thinking bad things about those that are bigger than me…not at all.  I’m only critical of myself.

Me in my bathing suit

I put this kind of stuff out here on my blog for 3 main reasons…
  1. In hopes that someone will tell me that I’m not alone.
  2. In hopes that someone who has been feeling alone will say, “Oh my gosh, she feels the same way I do” and that will free her just a bit.
  3. Because I think we all hold in too many “crazy” thoughts, thinking that people won’t understand…I want to break that myth.

So, once again, no happy ending…no easy wrap-up.  Just the truth from my heart.  Ladies, can any of you relate?  Or am I alone in this craziness?

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33 responses »

  1. From the comments above you already know that you are not alone. I too feel uncomfortable too often. I’m not fat, just would like to tone up a bit. My point: I envy all those women (and men) who just get out there and enjoy life; happy in their own skin. I’ve tried that many times and I have come to realize that I have a lot more fun (and miss out on a lot less) when I realize it’s all in my head. No one else is looking for cellulite on me. Just me! 😀 I missed out on too much; I am changing my ways because life is going to pass me by if I don’t! Thanks for sharing ❤

    • You’re so right that no one else is really evaluating my body as much as I am. They’re all thinking about their own body issues!! Thank you for sharing, and blessings on you as you get comfortable in your own skin!

  2. Wow. I can relate to every single thought and emotion you have so beautifully expressed in this essay. I have been there for a very long time, but….I have also been quite overweight for a very long time. So it has not all been in my head – but you know what? As I’m reading through all these comments, it doesn’t seem to matter what we actually look like (one look at your picture answers that question!). It’s what we think we SHOULD look like. And yes, the pressures of this current couple of decades are definitely adding layers of disquiet and dissatisfaction. But let me tell you, as a member of an older cohort, this is NOT new. My mom was born in 1921 – and she has obsessed over her weight for as long as I’ve been alive – and I’m 66. Her worries over her own weight filtered right on down to me. She gave me cottage cheese in my lunch; she took me to a doctor when I was in high school – a doctor who dispensed meds…like a mild version of speed, I’m guessing. And I KNOW I was not overweight then. I knew it at the time, somewhere deep inside, but I definitely know it when I look at pictures.

    So I promptly made sure I became overweight. I had three babies and added weight with each one. I tried every plan, system, diet known to humankind. I read every book and magazine article out there. And occasionally, I would have brief periods of ‘success,’ losing some weight, convinced that I would somehow feel more peaceful inside if I was thinner. It never worked. So…back the pounds came, usually with a few extra, just for good measure. Call it rebellion, call it self-defense, call it a desperate attempt to be ‘big enough’ to handle all the responsible feelings I’ve carried my whole life long.

    One of the last times I lost a good amount of weight was in the early 1990’s, just before I entered seminary as a mid-life student. I became a pastor four years later and just retired last December after 17 years in the ministry. And I pretty much kept that extra weight on, almost as a means of self-protection and a boundary/barrier from not only the responsibilities that role entails, but also from the difficult, painful journeys I was privileged to witness and walk with others, some of whom were in my own family.

    But a funny thing happened late last year. First of all, I read an excellent book that somehow began to seep into my unconscious. It’s called “Addiction and Grace” and it’s written by Dr. Gerald May, a psychologist and spiritual director who has written a list of fine books. He is now dead, but his books will be around for decades, I am sure. And then I got sick – pretty seriously sick for the first time in my adult life and I couldn’t eat much for a few weeks. Then, as the truth of Dr. May’s writing, and the nearness of my own retirement came through to me, I slowly began to feel things shift inside. I started eating when I was hungry – and not before. And stopping when I was full – and not after. And I started moving a bit more. Since last September, I have very slowly lost about 45 pounds and am now walking about 2 miles a day 5-6 times a week. It’s not a lot, but it’s a slow, sure movement in the right direction.

    And something feels very different about this. It feels deeply, deeply spiritual. It feels like God has granted a small miracle. It feels like God is walking this journey back to myself right with me. I am praying that this is a journey I will continue for the rest of my life and I am learning that all that ‘stuffing’ kept me from feeling a lot of things. So, I am learning to deal with anxiety – because I am now allowing myself to FEEL anxious. Instead of reaching for something in the pantry or fridge when I get anxious or overwhelmed, I let myself feel it. And I say the Jesus prayer A LOT.

    So…my prayer for all of you who have written, and all who will read this post and these comments, is that you will find your way to letting the feelings – whatever they are – surface and then release them to the grace of God. If you still need food for comfort, for support, so be it. Don’t beat yourself up – rest in the truth of God’s unconditional love for you. Learn to trust your husband’s love for you. And learn to love yourself for who you are RIGHT NOW. That’s when the change happens. I am convinced of it.

    Sorry this got so long, but as you can tell this is my life story – for 40+ years, this is my story. It’s a huge part of being female in this culture (and many other western cultures) and it’s not going away – so thank you again for writing so transparently about your own struggles. I think you’ve opened a floodgate.

    • Wow, Diana…I’m honored that you took the time to share your story. I will definitely look up the book you mentioned.
      Reading your comment, it seems to me that you are now in such a peaceful place when it comes to food and exercise. You have discovered how to temper your bad habits and start some new good habits without feeling like you need to deny yourself of all foods that you love and kill yourself with workouts. I’m so very happy for this change that you’ve been able to make, and how it is making you healthier physically, emotionally, and spiritually! Blessings on this new path you are walking (no pun intended 🙂 )!!

  3. Kim
    I totally get what you are saying. I weigh the most I have ever weighed in my life. I have no ambition to exercise. I plan on walking but it just has no appeal to me. I have felt overweight from high school. I have always had a little belly that made me look about 4 months pregnant. Even before I ever got pregnant. I always wanted to be able to wear a shirt tucked into my jeans but that has never happened. I get used to what I see in the mirror and even okay with it. Then some one snaps a picture and I am shocked by all the “extra baggage” around the middle. I made excuse for years because since 1994 when I had my first I have either been pregnant or taking care of a baby. Well I realized this year my baby is going to be five and I still haven’t lost the wight I had gained with her.

    I am about 20 pounds over what I should be. I no longer care about tucking my shirt in but I am concerned about my health. I am not trying to loose weight but to change the way I eat and why I eat. I started a bible study called 1st place 4 health and it really makes me think. I got excited because the 1st week I didn’t do that great with eating. You know things like 3 ice cream sandwiches because it is so hot out. In my defense I used them as meal replacements. It wasn’t like I had them all in one sitting. my Bible study leader is also a nutritionist, so that didn’t really work. She kind of frowned upon it. I showed her though, I still lost three pounds! At least that was what I felt until my Dr told me my thyroid was Hyper instead of the usual Hypo, so…those Ice cream sandwiches aren’t a miracle weight loss after all.

    So yes I know how you feel and I am praying that God gives me what I need to change my eating habits and increase my desire to at least walk for some exercise.

    You look fine, I think you are being to hard on yourself. I wish I had as little “Fluff” as you!
    I am glad you brought this up and shared. It is nice to remember that we are not alone.

    • Thank you, Kimberly, for sharing so honestly. I remember when I could tuck in my shirt…oh the good ol’ days! 🙂

  4. I definitely can relate…thank you for sharing your thoughts and letting me know I’m not alone. I struggle with worrying about whether my husband feels “cheated” because I don’t have a great, thin body. I know he loves me, and it frustrates him that I am so insecure about this, but there it is. By the way, I think you look great. 🙂

  5. I can relate!! I’m in a good enough place right now that it doesn’t stop me from doing things, but I’ve totally been there many times in my life. What a prison in our own minds! Still criticize myself with every glance in the mirror. Oh to be free… Philippians 4:8 🙂

  6. Thank you for this post – it was exactly what I needed to wake up to this morning!

    During my pregnancy, I over-ate and gained almost 80 lbs. I was already a little chubby, and the weight pushed me well into the “obese” category. Since then, I’ve lost 35 lbs, but still struggle with believing I look any healthier (never mind that I can FEEL the difference).

    I will always be that girl that wakes up in the morning, looks at herself in the mirror, and thinks, “How can I lose 5 lbs today?” I’ve started monitoring my BMI, since it can tell me what an actual healthy weight is, and I pray that once I enter a normal range, I will be satisfied, but it’s hard to imagine myself as anything but fat.

    My best friend is losing weight, and while I’m happy for her, I can’t help but think that soon she’ll be too thin to be my friend. My weight plays a large role in all my relationships. I rarely make friends with anyone that ISN’T overweight, and have purposely avoided thinner people because I don’t want to ‘drag them down’.

    I hope this gets better for you, and for all of us. Our body weight is so trivial in the grande scheme of things.

    • Krista, you are so right about the grand scheme…I have never been at a funeral and heard someone say, “I just loved Mary so much because she was so thin…that’s what I’ll remember about her…that’s how she touched my life.” Thank you for sharing with such honesty! I greatly appreciate it!

  7. I live in a Latin American culture where weight sits closer to the surface – women freely comment on weight (you’ve gained weight; you’re looking skinny; can I win?); men affectionately call their wives “gordita” (little fatty); people are overweight because of what they’re NOT eating more than because of what they are eating. Every time I hear a weight comment I turn for the rebuttal or the offended response, but it doesn’t come.

    So I’ve been asking why my culture, why I, give such power to weight and to food.

    Personally, weight is an area I feel like I should be able to control, so I seek that control. I should be able to say no to certain foods, so I put restrictions on the food I eat. In my attempt to take power away from the overwhelming feeling of feeling overweight, I give that power directly back to…weight.

    When I realize that I’m at that point again, the point where I’m bowing to the weight god or exercise god instead of my Creator God, I prayerfully and intentionally relax into my body, enjoy and not overindulge in both exercise and food, and seek to live a healthy lifestyle.

    • It would be interesting to look at different cultures, how each of them addresses weight issues, and how that effects body image issues within that culture. We lived in Abu Dhabi, UAE for 18 months, where there is an incredible number of different cultures represented in that one city. For some people from poorer countries, being fat means that you are wealthy…you have extra food to consume.
      Thank you for sharing!

  8. I can absolutely relate! I can remember when I was about ten or twelve crying because my cousin lost weight and I didn’t. Looking back, I wasn’t fat, I just wasn’t bone thin like everyone! Even today I compare myself, like you do. Even today, after losing 25 lbs. and getting down to my pre-pregnancy and marriage weight, I still think I could lose another 10 to 20. But I’m trying hard not to listen to the voices in my head or to what society tells me. When I look at you, I see me. You’re not fat, and therefore neither am I! I’m trying to look at myself as a whole and not just focus on my figure flaws, and I’ve learned to buy clothes that flatter my body type. Now when I look in the mirror I still think I could lose 10-20, but I also think I look pretty good for a mom of four! You look pretty good too! Embrace the body you’re in, don’t let it keep you from enjoying YOUR life!

    • Thank you Gina. It’s always “just 10 more pounds…then I’ll be happy.” It doesn’t work, though. Let’s work together to embrace the bodies we’re in!!

  9. SERIOUSLY! I’m with you! It’s such a stupid way to feel, isn’t it? But you are not alone. Not even close! Even my super-skinny friends go through this (whatever, right?). Thank you for writing this post.

    I’m going to share this. I think a lot of ladies really need to read this. Body image is such a struggle for our generation and those following us. I honestly don’t remember my Grandmas and Great Aunts going for a jog to get the saddle bags down. You know?

  10. Girl…you are not alone. I feel that way every day as well. Even when I was working out every day, I still felt the same way. I’m trying to convince myself that I’m just fluffy in some areas…not working. It is nice to know that I’m not alone :).

    • I love “fluffy”…that’s a great word that puts a bit of humor into the whole situation. I sure do appreciate knowing that I’m not alone!

  11. First, I’ve struggled with my weight my entire life…in my head. I’ve never been “tiny,” but two years ago I was so skinny I stopped having periods (I’m only 37) and that still wasn’t enough to make me think I was thin or to make me stop looking at other women and wishing I could look like them.

    I’ve put on a few pounds since that time, but when I feel lousy I think of all the accomplishments I’ve reached. I’ve written four books, I’ve run nine marathons, I’ve qualified for Boston, I’ve raced a Half Ironman, I’ve given birth to two brilliant and beautiful children, I’ve raised an autistic child and helped her become amazing…ten pounds and your opinion of my ass can’t take those away from me.

    The real clincher for me this year was going to the pool and seeing all these happy, confident moms, many of the carrying far too many pounds to walk around in a bikini. They didn’t stop their bodies from letting them get in the pool with their kids while wearing their favorite swimsuits. If they can do it, so can I.

    Good luck, and love yourself.

    • Thank you so much for your transparency. Your accomplishments are an inspiration. I pray that you (and I) can begin to see the amazing woman that you are, no matter how you look or feel in a bathing suit! Blessings on you.

  12. Oh my gosh. You are TOTALLY not fat! But, you’re right, it doesn’t matter what the truth is. It’s about how you feel.

    I definitely feel fat, but the difference is, I am. Oh, wait a minute. I felt that way just before Mindy’s wedding, nine years and twenty five pounds ago. And I felt that way thirty years ago after Megan was born, many more pounds ago. And …

    You are so right on.

    Thank you for shaking me into reality and reminding me that:

    1. Feeling fat, all the time, is not helpful. It’s destructive on so many levels.

    2. The question for me is, “Do I feel healthy?” Am I doing things for my body and my mind which make me feel ALIVE and vibrant? THAT is where my focus needs to be. Not on some mis-placed, self-absorbed, self-loathing place. When I am doing things that make me feel fully alive, the body image (and reality) will change. That’s the way it should be.

    Wow. Thanks again for reminding me of a truth that I had forgotten.

    Question for Self, “What’s ONE thing I can do today that will make me feel fully alive? (Definitely not beating myself up.)

  13. First, you are definitely not alone. As a husband and father of five daughters, women that don’t feel fat in our culture are a very small minority.

    Second, it is mostly this thin-crazed culture that makes you feel this way. Abnormally thin people are on the covers of magazines and hosting television shows. Because the mass media saturate us with these images, we think they are the norm. They are not. They are the exception—exponentially multiplied. (Imagine if albino deer were all the rage and they started showing up on magazine covers and television shows. How would the non-albino deer feel?)

    Third, you are definitely not fat. You are not even chubby. You are just not anorexic. In any other time in history other than our own thin-obsessed one, you would be considered NORMAL.

    Fourth, I love that you shared this. You have just given a gift to thousands of women who will now now that they are not alone!

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