We all have those days...you know the ones I'm talking about....where you feel frumpy at best. Where your clothes seem too tight and it feels like people are judging you wherever you go. Those days where you just wish you could look like (insert ideal body here).
A long time ago I nicknamed these days "fat" days. Why? Because these were the days where it felt like I had gained 10 lbs over night and all people could see was how ugly I was.
These were the days where I just wanted to stay home and wallow in the broken record of insults playing in my head.
Over the months and years of learning and growing in my ED recovery, I learned some helpful tips and tools to combat these fat days. Fortunately, as my self-love and self-awareness grew, the fat days diminished in frequency. I spent a good deal of my early 20s learning what works and doesn't work to slay the dragon that is a "fat" day and I'd like to offer some helpful tips to you.
Below you will find some tips to slay that fat day and get back to feeling like the incredible human being you already are!
1. Separate Yourself From The Chatter
Our inner committee's love to have an opinion and on these tough days, it seems like there is no difference between the mean chatter of your inner critic and your inner voice. The first tip I have for you is to learn to separate. You can't escape the broken record of insults if you don't recognize that it is the inner critic and NOT you hurling them faster than a toddler throws cheerios during a tantrum. Start to notice the difference between your voice and the voice of your inner committee. There is a difference and the sooner you can separate the two, the better.
At the beginning, I found it helpful to make a list of all the things my inner critic was telling me. Next to that list, I would then list out what my true inner ME had to say. This is a super helpful exercise because it will allow you to more easily differentiate when your inner mean girl is running the show or it is truly YOU doing so. On fat days it can be hard to differentiate the two, so I recommend that you practice separating and recognizing the difference sooner rather than later.
Lastly, give that inner critic a name...it helps you see how it is not YOU whenever it runs its dialogue of meanness. One of the names I used to give mine was ED (it stands for eating disorder) but you can name yours anything that pops into your head. I've had people name it Ms. Perfectionist, Ana, Asshole, and more....just go with what feels right to you.
2. Wear Clothes You Feel Good In
This seems like something so simple, but let me tell you...I seemed to have a penchant for making myself feel terrible because on fat days I would gravitate towards clothes that were tight. It was almost like my inner critic wanted me to look in the mirror and see proof that it was right. Even if the clothes looked good to the average onlooker, to me, I would criticize every roll, bulge, or "bad" part of my body in these clothes. Do not be the glutton for punishment I was.
Wear clothes that make you feel good. For me, that meant clothes that were flowy, that I had room in and that were comfortable. This is a highly individual thing but I know you have something in your closet that you feel totally YOU and comfy in. Do not give that inner committee extra ammo to make you feel worse about yourself. Save the other clothes for times when you are feeling better and more confident in the fabulous body you have.
Another good tip here is to spend a little extra time on your appearance. Show yourself some extra love on these days. Sometimes that means doing your makeup and/or hair when you feel like an ugly duckling...but the thing is...no matter what your inner committee is saying, spending that little extra effort on yourself is an act of self-love AND total defiance of the mean rhetoric it is spinning. Can anyone say "heck yes!" to giving that inner critic the middle finger?! In the famous words of Elizabeth Taylor "Pour yourself a drink. Put on some lipstick and pull yourself together."
3. Avoid Shopping...Or Anything That Involves a Body Focus
This tip kind of piggy-backs onto number 2. Do not put yourself in situations where you are forced to focus on your body, weight, or size. It seems like common sense, but I used to, again, love to torture myself. I would head straight for the mall and my fat talk would only get worse as I tried on things. Let's be honest, dressing room lighting is already unflattering. Why subject yourself to that on a day where you are vulnerable?
It is A LOT harder to remember that sizes differ from store to store when your brain is off on another rant about how big your tummy or thighs are. My inner committee used to be soooo sneaky. It would tell me that I should go shopping just to prove that I hadn't gained any weight or to prove it wrong. BIG MISTAKE. All it became was more fuel for my inner committee and another form of self-sabotage. Do yourself a favor and just save the dressing room trips for another day...ok?
As a side note to this, shopping isn't the only activity that should be avoided. Basically anything that is going to make you feel even more uncomfortable in your body should be avoided on fat days. For example, if you are planning on heading to the beach and all you hear is the fat rhetoric as you are putting on your swim suit, leave the beach day for another sunshine filled date. If you absolutely must go somewhere that is body focused, be sure to practice tip #2 no matter what the "usual attire" is.
4. Change The Channel
Another self-sabotaging behavior that seemed to be a favorite of mine during these days was focusing on those with a "perfect" body. I would somehow manage to see women everywhere with the fit, toned, body, that I deemed perfect and I would spend forever comparing myself to them. It would only fuel the body shame and all the chatter about why I was such an incredible failure because I didn't look like them.
On fat days it is important to really protect your space....and I mean...FIERCELY protect it. Take a social media break...leave the reality TV for another day...and put those magazines away...GASP I know. The thing is, each of these modalities are designed to make you feel like you lack something. Even if you innocently start off searching Pinterest for an inspiring quote, I can almost guarantee that the innocent search will morph into scrolling through fitness programs, diet plans, and how to make your body look _____. Don't even give your inner critic the added fuel.
While I know it can be tough to step away from these things, especially social media, it is so important to turn inward and focus on YOU today instead of the idealized version of others. Will the extra time with yourself be uncomfortable? Maybe...but it also gives you an awesome opportunity to see the deeper things that are happening inside. If you simply try to numb out with social media, tv, shopping, etc, you play into the inner critic and deprive your higher self of a great opportunity for healing. Instead of scrolling through your Instagram or Facebook, write in a journal, take a walk or even just sit and breathe. Sit through the discomfort of just being with yourself.
5. Treat Yo Self
Now this last tip can be a tricky one. There is a grey area between treating oneself and engaging in another form of self-sabotage. In general, I like to say that indulging in something that is good for your body is a good thing. And hey...sometimes that means indulging in that ice cream cone when your inner critic is screaming at you about how it will go right to your thighs (le sigh...). However, this is not permission to go nutso with this. Don't go and get drunk or eat an entire gallon of ice cream because "treat yo self."
While there are some general rules of thumb you can follow with this tip, really only you know when you might be going a little overboard. Maybe you decide to treat yourself to a manicure or to some new makeup. Perhaps it means that you treat yourself to that walk at lunch time or the massage you have been wanting to get. I tend to say, avoid treating yourself with food here because it can easily be a backhanded way your inner critic sabotages you.
For me, I loved to treat myself to a nice long bath with some essential oils and candles. That, or reading an especially delicious book and spending extra time cuddling with my puppy were definite wins here. The inner committee loves to convince us that we don't deserve to be/do/have _____ because of our body but allowing yourself some luxury gives a big middle finger to this belief. If you are unsure about how to treat yourself, ask the following questions "If I was my ideal weight, what would I do just for me today?" or "If I loved my body, what would I do today?" Then go out and do it!
There...those are 5 tips that have really helped me bust through those fat days. While there are many more tips and tools, these 5 are great ones to start with. Most importantly of all, remember that the days where you feel yucky, gross, fat, etc. will pass and YOU get to decide how long you allow them to last. Make yourself and YOUR inner voice a priority and you will slay those fat days like the incredible queen that you are.