Is “fat” really a feeling?

Have you ever uttered the words, “I feel fat!”? That statement used to enter my mind on the daily, even after I had lost 60-pounds and was maintaining my weight. I still remember the first time I had the conversation with my health coach when she said, “Laura, fat is not a feeling!”

I felt it so deeply and it felt real to me, so how was it possible that I was getting it wrong? Many times, when I would look in the mirror those words would enter my head. If my pants felt a little tight, you guessed it! ‘I felt fat.’

Have you ever thought, ‘when I hit a certain number on the scale, I’ll finally feel good in my body?’ We often think when we reach our ideal weight, how we feel in our bodies will change. So why was it that even after I lost so much weight, I still consistently felt fat?

My coach’s comment stuck with me for a couple of years and then one day it hit me! ‘Ooooooohhhhhhh! That’s what she means. I get it now!’

What I learned is, “fat” is the meaning we assign to a feeling and how we feel about that meaning. There are many things we place meaning on that aren’t always the most accurate representations of what is actually happening, or the intended meaning. How many times has a friend not responded to your text and you made it mean they were mad at you, only to find out they read the text, got sidetracked and totally forgot to reply? The meaning you put on the silence and lack of response was you had done something wrong and in turn your friend was mad at you.

The same can be true with how we feel in our bodies, as it typically isn’t really about our bodies. (Side note: this is similar with how we feel about food. If you’ve ever felt out of control around food, it likely wasn’t really about the food. Was there anywhere in life you were feeling out of control?) When we’re focusing on how we’re feeling in our bodies, there is often some vulnerability or uncertainty also present. For me, that would show up when I felt uncertain or vulnerable as I was starting out in my business. Focusing on my body felt like a comfortable resting place, even though it wasn’t serving me. It felt like it was the one thing I could control when other things felt out of control (even though I wasn’t actually in control over it).

When having this conversation with a client, she realized that “fat” is a label given to encompass a collection of feelings. So, take a minute and reflect, what does feeling fat mean to you? As I mentioned earlier, for me any time I felt vulnerable for potentially being misunderstood, is when I would feel extreme discomfort in my body. For others it might mean you feel at risk of being inadequate, unvalued, rejected, exposed, etc.

Another way to think of this is, next time you start to focus on feeling uncomfortable in your body, see if you can pause and ask yourself:

  • What’s making me feel unsettled?
  • Where am I feeling at risk or vulnerable?

It’s OK if you aren’t able to identify it yet because it can be a process and take some time to get there.

The good news is, once you’re able to get to the bottom of what you’re really feeling, we can then start to work on ensuring you feel emotionally safe when perceived risks come up. If you’re curious about what could be triggering you to “feel fat” and you’d like to learn more, this is the work we do through the Truce with Food process I take my clients through.

Join our community!

You’re not alone in this process and there is a place to get support to help you explore your relationship with food and how you’re feeling in your body! The Behind Your Cravings community is a judgment-free, safe space for connection, support, inspiration and discussion about your relationship with food, emotional eating and self-sabotage. (No added willpower or discipline required!)

In the community you’ll gain an understanding of why you eat emotionally, mindlessly and when you’re not hungry. You’ll also receive inspiration, learn the triggers that lead you to eat and gain clarity as to why you self-sabotage. We’ll also celebrate wins and have some laughs along the way!

About Laura:

Laura is a Certified Holistic Health Coach and holds a certification from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN). She has supported over 100 clients who know what they should be eating but have a hard time sticking to it by helping them identify the familiar patterns keeping them stuck so they can radically transform their relationship with food.

Laura is a facilitator of the research-based Truce with Food® process, which helps clients achieve sustainable results by getting to the bottom of why they fall off track and aren’t able to remain consistent. She’s also the creator of the self-paced course, “Behind Your Cravings” and the creator and facilitator of the free, online Behind Your Cravings Community.

After successfully losing 60 pounds and working through her own emotional relationship with food, Laura’s mission became helping others get to the bottom of their self-sabotaging patterns.

Laura coaches clients one-on-one, in small groups, runs workshops, speaks at summits and conferences, and has been featured in Voyage Chicago. Laura can be contacted at or [email protected]


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