What Does Fat Mean to You?
Have you ever looked in the mirror and only noticed how fat you are?
Have you ever turned to the side and felt your eyes go straight to that part of your body that you hate?
Have you ever looked at that “problem area” and desperately wondered what it would be like if the fat under your skin just disappeared?
Have you ever chosen to eat less food or over-exercise because of what you saw in the mirror?
Have you ever had a good day because you thought you were skinny that day? Have you ever had a bad day because you thought you were too fat that day?
What if how you felt about yourself didn’t depend on what you saw in the mirror? What if you treated yourself with respect no matter what shape your body was? What if you started living a full and complete and fulfilling life today, in the body you have right now?
If the shape and size of your body determines your body image and your fat dictates how you treat yourself, understanding your beliefs about fat is vital. Why? Because if what you believe isn’t true, then your suffering is false and you’re living small…when you could be living a big, happy, dream-seeking life instead.
In order to live big, we’ve got to excise small thinking. And it starts with recognizing and questioning your beliefs.
We’ll start with answering the question What does fat mean to you?
Pause and take a moment to answer this question. It might take some bravery, so in order to get us started, I'll go first.
To me, fat, at its root, meant I would never be loved. (Since I've been doing this work for so long, my answer is in the past tense. Maybe your answer will be in the past tense soon, too.)
That was the core of it for me.
When I ask women I know what fat means to them, they say fat means taking up too much space. Fat means lazy. Fat means ugly.
Now it’s your turn: What does fat mean to you?
Got your answer? Okay.
Now that you've identified your belief (or beliefs!) about what fat means, it's time to examine it (start with the first one if you’ve got a list) and make sure that what you believe is true. Because if it's not true, then it's not real, it's not helpful, and it's keeping your life small.
How to examine beliefs? I recommend Byron Katie’s method, which she refers to as The Work. Here's how The Work works (pun intended, thankyouverymuch):
Let's try The Work with the belief "Being fat means I'll never be loved."
1. Is it true?
Is it true that being fat means I'll never be loved? Yes, for sure. Only thin people are loved. I see it all the time. Thin, pretty people get love. Fat, ugly people don’t.
2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
Can I absolutely know that being fat means I’ll never be loved? Well, if that was true, all fat people everywhere would never have love of any kind. They wouldn’t have friends. And they sure wouldn’t have partners. I actually do know fat people with partners and friends… In fact, some of my friends are fat, and I totally love them...
I guess it’s not really true that being fat means I’ll never be loved.
3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
When I believe that being fat means I'll never be loved, I start to hate myself. I start to live in fear. I punish myself with exercise, don’t eat enough, and feel hungry all the time. I start comparing myself to other women. I put my goals and dreams on hold. I refuse to accept love that’s offered me because I don’t trust that I deserve it. I mistrust those around me who claim to love me. I feel isolated and alone.
4. Who would you be without the thought?
When I reject the idea that I'll never be loved because of fat, I am willing to live my life fully, in the body I have. I pursue love in all the ways it's available to me, in all the ways I want. I feel grateful for my body and the ways it serves me. I want to take care of it by giving it fuel and movement and love. I accept other people's love and care. I feel supported by my family and my chosen family. I have a strong community on whom I can depend.
Turnaround: Being fat means I’ll never be loved → I am loved.
Evidence: My parents love me. My son loves me. My partner loves me. My dog loves me.
Further evidence: My fat friend is happily married. My fat aunt’s children love her. My favorite actress, who is fat, is loved the world over.
Repeat this process for every single thought or belief about fat that you have. What do you learn? I’d love to hear.
There are a couple of huge takeaways here:
First, not everything you believe about fat is true. In fact, after several years of doing The Work, I find that most things I believe, include most things I’ve believed about fat, are not actually true.
Second, when you recognize that what you believe about fat isn’t true, you are liberated from small thinking. You no longer believe you don’t deserve love. You appreciate the beauty in your body, and the beauty in bodies all around you. You no longer wait to live a big life until your body is smaller. When your small beliefs are shattered, your life starts to get big. When you recognize that what you believe about fat isn’t true, you can live a happier, fuller, bigger, and more amazing life.
About holland Hettinger
Hi, I’m Holland Hettinger, and I help women stop binge-eating. I believe your life doesn’t have to revolve around food. Your mind can think about something other than what you eat. You don’t have to shrink yourself and hide your body. There is an alternative to food guilt and body shame. And none of it includes dieting, meal prepping, weighing yourself, or forcing yourself not to binge-eat for just one—more—day. (Insert sigh of relief here.) Through training videos, coaching emails, and one-on-one work, I teach women to stop binge-eating for good.