Fat is a Feeling.

Steph Wagner

July 8, 2013

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Fat is a feeling

cartoon image for blog fat is a feeling bariatric surgery coaching from steph wagner dietitian

the mental game of weight happiness


A photo and a flashback

I posted this article “Fat is a Feeling” in 2013 when I was about 3 years into maintaining my own weight loss goal. I’ve thought about this idea through the years since then. The idea that you can feel happy with your body one day and the total opposite one day later.

This past week I ran across a postcard that had my photo on the front. I showed my husband (who knew I struggled with my weight before we met) and he didn’t recognize me. At this point, I have maintained my weight loss for 9 years! I don’t include my two pregnancies but I do marvel that I gained the recommended amount of weight and returned to my goal.

Below is the photo of that postcard. Read on as I share my thoughts on why fat is a ‘feeling’ and how identifying that can actually keep you from throwing in the towel on a bad day.


Happy, tired, bored, sad, stressed….fat

Yuck. “Fat” is such a dirty word. And I like to think as adults, we don’t really use it. Unfortunately, I know that’s not the truth.

Here’s the thing. In my mind…I believe that fat is a feeling.

Just like angry, annoyed, happy and funny. Yes, funny is also a feeling. I often feel funny. When I eat poorly, I feel fat. When I see a picture I don’t like, I feel fat (and will never wear that outfit ever again.) When I haven’t been exercising, I feel fat…and lazy.

Edit: now that I have two young children I laugh at the thought of feeling lazy. That actually sounds quite nice! :) 

Sometimes it’s such a strong feeling that we wake up feeling it. Or we fall asleep trying not to feel it.

But really, nothing has changed. Pants probably do fit the same even when they don’t feel the same. Also, love handles do not actually grow over the course of two days. We just swear that they did.

This is the mental game of weight happiness. Yes, I did make up a phrase called weight happiness. Is that even possible, to be happy in your weight? I believe that it is, however, something we are continually working towards just like we work towards staying grateful.


Negative feelings come easy

Staying grateful is something most of us have to work towards. Not always. Some days we naturally feel grateful. Perhaps you look at your loved ones and you feel so grateful. You might remember how far you have come and what your body has been through and instantly feel grateful.

Other days, life feels hard and it is easy to get overwhelmed and feel like you cannot catch a break. On those days, gratefulness is something you  have to stop and work on. It doesn’t come naturally when the car broke down, work is calling and you have been fighting a headache for days. (Or fill in the blank.)

Fat is another negative feeling that comes easier than feeling confident and comfortable in your skin. When you are in the groove and making great food choices, staying active and seeing results it is much easier to “feel thin” (also a feeling).

But how many times have you had a bad weekend and instantly felt fat just two days after you were feeling fantastic?

This is why I think it matters to realize that fat is a feeling. Feelings are what we can work on in a different way.


Weight loss takes time, emotions move faster

Weight loss is a journey. We all know this! The journey is never over really, although the hope is it becomes much easier to manage after long-term work. Nine years at my goal weight I can say the journey is not over but it really DOES become easier to manage. 

No, you did not really go from thin to fat in two days. It means your emotions changed in two days. When you have tools in your toolbox to work through your emotions, you can be more in control of the fat-thin feelings. When you can identify the negative feelings “I feel fat” you can spin that around and put an end to “stinking thinking” which helps you recover from a bad weekend of eating instead of de-railing your progress any further.

Let’s play this out.

Scenario #1: Have a bad weekend. Feel fat. Let the negative emotions get the best of you and come Monday you don’t say no to the donuts at work. The co-workers candy bowl is back in your life. You don’t fight the invitation to get out to eat instead of cooking.

Scenario #2: Have a bad weekend. Feel fat. Remind yourself that falling off track on a weekend happens to everyone and that makes you human. Make a meal plan for Monday, pack your lunch, brush your teeth and go read a good book.

Emotions are so powerful. When we can identify them and use positive self talk to work through it, we can get back to life and not let the cloud of negativity take the reins.


A personal faith note

As a Christ follower I have a few thoughts too about what God has to do with this message. If you are in the Christian faith I pray this message is God’s blessing to you.

Satan will use any foothold he can to get in the way of our life. He will place feelings of fatness on your mind in effort to distract and delay you. His speciality is to steal (and kill and destroy) so if you are on a path towards feeling good about yourself, focusing on your health and making choices that bring you to enjoy the body God gave you more fully – Satan will want to steal that.

The gospel says that we ARE weak. If you had a bad couple days and you feel so weak it’s because you are. We are human and our flesh is weak. When we acknowledge that weakness and turn it to prayer and praise for the one who is strongest when we are weakest, He can remind us of his grace and His power. Prayer has an important role in this walk towards freedom from weight and food.

So if I swear my love handles are growing, I will ask the Lord to remind me who I am. Then make a plan for a morning walk and pray over my day as I walk. Speaking of gratefulness, it’s another powerful practice in this journey. Thank God for all the ways you’ve grown since embarking this journey and humbly ask Him for more. He is the one who does far more than we can ask, think or imagine!

All my best,


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10 thoughts on “Fat is a Feeling.”

  1. Great Advice!!! When I was overweight I would constantly make fun of myself in order to beat the mean girls to the punch. (Fat Amy quote goes here) The only problem was I was the only one throwing punches! Once I came to grips with my weight issue I was able to use the word fat as a feeling. I often say “This is a story about how I became fat…” and it is not in a negative way but more or less how I had a love affair with food and how it played a big part in my life development. And I can say that now because I am in a healthy long term partnership with food AND exercise! And when I feel fat I just make sure to do something that makes me happy.

    DISCLOSURE: If you feel fat it is not wise to pop in the Notebook DVD or you will 100% feel ALL the feelings! just saying.

  2. Thank you for being so transparent. It does feel like I’m alone in this struggle.

  3. Needed this today! Thank you!! I’ve felt “fat” today with no changes on the scale for several days….really has me down. Good to remember that it is only a passing feeling…such a mind and heart game.

  4. Yes it is! Do something that makes you feel something else :) Like…inspired or intelligent or just happy!

  5. I’m so glad I took the time to read this email this morning as I woke up felling like you said even tho the scales say I lost another .2. I’m leaving on a business trip in a few minutes but now I will leave with a different outlook and mindset due to your heartfelt words! Thank you so much for the time and effort you put into your emails. I’m faithful to read them and to share them. Keep it up!

  6. Steph, thank you for re-posting this article. It truly has spoken to me, but you know that. I must thank you for helping me late last week when I reached out to you after having quite a few “bad” days. You may not realize just how much you helped me. This is a good read for everyone!

  7. Six years and these words are so helpful! Thank you for “digging them out.” I’ve been struggling so badly this week. I needed these sooo much.

  8. I so needed this kind of positive advice..

    I am well aware of all I have accomplished but this filled me with a feeling that i can feel.more in control of those negative feelings that s eak up on me.

    Thank you so much. I am sure this estate hit hp.e withany of us.

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