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What “I feel fat” really means

In honor or today's topic, behold my much-bemoaned lower body.

“I feel soooo fat!”

Have these words slipped out recently? Have you heard anyone say them about themselves?

I haven’t said these words in ages, but the other night while getting ready for bed, I caught a glimpse of myself in the full-length closet door mirror and thought “Whoa, when did that happen?” Suddenly my stomach felt enormous and my thighs were huge. I felt like an elephant.

Here’s another question, what else was going on that day or that week? You might have been eating more than usual, or not exercising, but why?

If you’re anything like me, you were probably under a boatload of stress either worrying about something or you were super busy and feeling you were about to be crushed under the weight of that to do list, or maybe you’re relationship with your partner or a friend wasn’t going so hot.

In When Women Stop Hating their Bodies, the authors discuss how women speak in code, saying how fat or ugly they feel when what they’re really feeling is emotional distress. For some reason, our society accepts body-bashing more than the admittance of actual emotion, and talking about how awful we look is easier than actually acknowledging how we feel and addressing the real problem. Fat isn’t an actual emotion, and bemoaning saddlebags is much easier than facing whatever is really bothering us.

“I feel fat” might be any of these:

“I’ve got so much going on at work, I don’t know if I can get through this week!” or “I’m overwhelmed.”

“My kids are driving me insane! I need a break.” Or “I’m drained.”

“My husband is mad at me. I can’t stand it when we fight.” Or “I’m angry.”

“I’m never going to get my career off the ground.” Or “I feel inadequate.”

This has been one hell of a week and I still haven’t shaken the feeling, so I’ve decided that my statement, “I look like a beached whale waiting for Greenpeace to show up with buckets” really meant “I’m overwhelmed” and “I’m exhausted” and “I feel inadequate because I’m overwhelmed and exhausted.” Hopefully, I can pull myself out of this one, hopefully with a restful weekend and a renewed attitude.

Remember, “Fat” is not a feeling, so the next time you’re about to launch on a body-bashing session, take a step back and see what’s really going on, then take steps to fix the problem, or learn to just sit  with your feelings. I’m still getting over my “do something! Anything!” mindset, but hopefully one day I’ll be able to acknowledge and embrace my feelings, though this is as hard as eating intuitively, which I’m also working on.

Well, I’m off for few days of R & R, and I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!


Stress busting toolkit

I feel kind of stupid writing a post about stress relief when I spend half my time on the verge of exploding. I’m surprised my cortisol levels aren’t shooting out my ears. Obviously, this is something I need to work on, so why not write a post?

As a bona fide type A personality, I like to write lists and set goals. If you don’t believe me, check out my Happiness Project and my Handprint List.

I’ve been an emotional eater all my life, and though I’m getting better stress is the one emotion that causes me to hunt down the nearest chocolate bar while practically foaming at the mouth. Today was just one of those days, so now I’m collapsed on my couch with my laptop perched on top of my food baby. Time to find a better plan.

I compiled a list of simple techniques to try instead of causing a world chocolate shortage:

  • Listen to music (Dave Matthews seems to work pretty well.)
  • Do some Ujjayi breathing. Preferably when I’m alone so I don’t scare anyone.
  • Sneak into an empty room and do some stretches
  • Journal
  • Talk to someone
  • Go for a walk, or a furious run. If I can’t leave maybe hop on the stationary bike and pretend I’m riding away to a sunny beach somewhere.
  • Stick my face in a pillow and scream (I haven’t done this for awhile, but I remember it feeling pretty good) then I can pound on it if I want.
  • Watch an episode of the Muppet Show. If I don’t have time, watch that clip of Beaker, Swedish Chef and Animal singing Danny Boy. (Yes, this is the kind of stuff that makes me laugh. Don’t knock it.)
  • Clean or organize something. Better yet, get rid of something.
  • Play with Louka or Meeko (my calm kitty and my cousin’s psycho kitty)
  • Take a bath
  • Sing.

I taped this to the back of my notebook in high school. I might have actually used it once.


I must still be stressed. I can tell because my writing gets really snarky, but I’m not in a bad mood or anything. Hopefully when this posts in the morning, I’ll be refreshed and calm.

Do you have any tricks to manage your stress?

Happiness Project: Mindfulness

Wow, it’s Monday already! I hope everyone had an awesome weekend, because I sure did.

This past week, I worked on being more mindful as part of my Happiness Project. If you’re a new reader, check out these links:

Learning to be Happy parts 1, 2, and 3

My Happiness Project: Health

My mindful guidelines:

  • Be here now: I think everyone who isn’t a Buddhist monk has a hard time with this, because our minds are spinning out of control and we’re always thinking about everything except where we are and what we’re doing right now. For me, this usually means worrying about the future and wishing for the past. This week, I made an effort to rein in my thoughts. When I started to stress out about money, I pulled my mind back to the present and focused on what I was reading. I tried to pay attention to each bite of food I put in my mouth and describe it to myself. What does the sky look like today? How warm is it? Are the leaves any redder than they were yesterday?
  • Sing like I mean it- To be honest, I kind of forgot about this one. I took voice lessons for years, but I quit and now my voice is in pretty bad shape, but singing is such a freeing thing. However, last night at my family’s house, I did decide to play my little brother’s guitar and sing Alanis Morrisette’s “Ironic” at the top of my lungs. By the way, I’ve never played guitar in my life. My husband was pretty amused and there’s probably a video on the internet somewhere.
  • Keep better track of spending- Also, still need to work on this. I  check my account every day and keep a general total in my head, but I really need to write everything down. I used to be a stickler for checkbook balancing, budgeting and coupon clipping. No need to be extreme, but I need a little more discipline.
  • Honor my emotions- By this, I mean not using food to handle emotions, but to embrace them. Also, not feeling bad about the way I feel (wrap your brain around that one for a second, but that’s what I do) I stopped to think about what I was doing before I dove into the M&M bowl I hide in our room.  I write about what I’m feeling, gush to my aunt and cousin, and take breaks when I need them. Surprisingly, I don’t feel anywhere near as overwhelmed as I did a week ago.
  • Limit screen time- I started off trying to limit computer time to 45 minutes a day, but I realized I don’t waste much time on the internet watching videos or playing games. I spend a lot of time researching and reading useful information, writing, promoting my blog, networking, etc. I did limit the idle time watching videos and stuff like that, but now I’m much more mindful off what I’m doing on the computer and I realize it’s not a bad thing.

Though I wasn’t perfect, I feel I made significant progress this week, at least with managing my emotions and living now. Now just for managing my money…

Next week: Attitude


Decide to have fun

-Dress nicely. And shower every day.

-Don’t let myself off the hook

Act the way I want to feel

My Happiness Project: Health

Continued from Learning to be Happy: Part 3

Happy Monday everyone!

I’ve spent the last week on part one of my personal happiness project, and I’ve focused on improving my health through a short list of guidelines I made for myself.

Here’s how I did:

–          Do a little yoga each day– Didn’t happen every day, but most days. I’ve noticed on the days I did practice, I had more energy and I felt all loosey-goosesy instead of my usual achey upper-back and tight hips. I’ll keep working on this one.

–          Learn to move more– Being a full-time nanny is draining sometimes, so instead of sneaking out for a cookie-dough shake in the evenings or diving into my hidden pint of chocolate hazelnut fudge ice cream, I took walks in the evenings, which helped me unwind and calm down much better than a sugar jolt.

–          Take my vitamins– I remembered about 70% of the time. Whole food vitamins are usually multiple pills taken several times a day. I remembered in the  mornings, most of the time at lunch and only a few times in the evenings. I didn’t used to believe in supplements because I reasoned that good food should have all the nutrition we need, but healthy food isn’t what it used to be and I’d have to eat a ton to get everything I need. I currently take a women’s  multi, herbal iron, fish oil, and an herbal complex called MindTrac to help with anxiety. Also an herbal tincture when I feel overwhelmed or panicky. I plan to add a B complex soon and D3 during the winter.

–          Honor my hunger and fullness– this one is always hard for me, and I’m still working on it. Most of the problem is that I rarely feel hungry. I’m a snacker, so when I feel a glimmer of hunger, I eat and don’t get hungry for awhile. Sometimes I just nibble throughout the day without giving myself a chance to get obviously hungry. I can’t decide if this is a good thing or not. Also, I’m a textbook emotional eater. If I’m stressed out, you can bet I’m searching for the nearest chocolate bar. I’ve been trying to take walks instead.

–          Treats should stay treats– I’m the kind of person who loves dessert every day, so I try to stick to a couple pieces of dark chocolate or a scoop of chocolate hazelnut butter when I want something sweet and then have a real dessert twice a week or so and really pay attention to it.

–          Spend time outside every day– Also hard sometimes, because when I get a break, I usually plop down on the couch to write or read and only go outside to dump the compost bucket, feed the dogs or throw away dirty diapers. I take walks outside though and try to enjoy the time I do spend out there. Maybe I’ll throw in a few park visits with the kids this week.

Nobody’s perfect, but progress is much more important than perfection. I’ll continue to work on my health.

Next week: mindfulness

-Be here now

– Sing like I mean it

-Keep better track of spending

-Honor my emotions

-Limit screen time

PS: if you’d like to join me in the Happiness Project, leave me a comment and/or post it on your blog!

Emotions aren’t emergencies

One of the hardest lessons I had to learn about intuitive eating is that while it’s important to honor your hunger, hunger isn’t an emergency. Food is available everywhere and I’m in no danger of starving even if I’m not able to eat at the moment.

A lesson I learned today is that like hunger, emotions aren’t emergencies either. They may feel immediate and like the most important thing in the world, but they pass. Sadness, anger, or boredom isn’t the end of the world. While it’s important to acknowledge our feelings, we don’t have to scramble for a distraction or a solution if we’re uncomfortable. Sometimes, you just have to wait it out. Take a walk, do something with your hands, read something uplifting, but all you can really do sometimes is wait. Also, don’t make the mistake I did today and compound garden-variety melancholy with guilt. Everyone feels that way sometimes, even if it’s totally unreasonable.

It passes. Feel it, embrace it, don’t worry about it.

Filling Needs with Food


First off, I have to confess something: I struggle with Intuitive Eating. A lot. I still eat emotionally often enough that I rarely get the chance to feel real hunger. I’m still working at it though, and I’m committed to a diet-free life in favor of learning to listen to my body’s signals.

I spend a lot of time reflecting on why I feel the need to eat when I’m not actually hungry. I need something, but it’s not food. What is it?

I’m the kind of person that needs a lot of solitude. Several hours a deal is ideal, but that’s a rare luxury for a full-time nanny for six awesome, involved kids. Between cooking, cleaning, driving around to school and lessons and planning Harry Potter-themed birthday parties, I’m lucky if I can sneak up to my room for an hour a day or stay awake to read a little before bed. I need to recharge my batteries with some silence and time to think, but if I get a few busy days in a row (like this week) I get extra munchy. It’s like I think “I can’t go to my room and read right now, but I can eat this cupcake! Nom nom nom!” or “Waaay too much stuff going on right now, I bet a sandwich would calm things down.” Nope. Doing my job with a food baby is super uncomfortable. I love my job, but I get overwhelmed easily because I need solitude.

So that’s what I need, not food.

If you eat emotionally, I urge you to examine your life. Pay attention to your thoughts when you’re about run to the welcoming arms of a milkshake. Consider the factors that could have triggered the impulse. Write it down if you need to, do some soul searching, and above all make sure you take care of yourself. Take some time for yourself to figure out what you need, and if you’re someone like me, time to yourself may be all you need.