Fat is Not a Feeling


As many of you know, my path to becoming a Health Coach was a long, messy road. Like many young girls I thought I was too fat and jumped on the dieting treadmill by the time I was in middle school.


My innocent attempts to lose weight developed into bulimia. I spent months working with the a therapist who always asked me the same seemingly simple question; “how do you feel?”


My answer was always “I feel fat.”


His response would always be- “Michelle, FAT is not a FEELING…how do you feel?”


He would gently push me to answer, and I would mostly shrug or cry. I struggled to verbalize my feelings because I was so out of touch with with myself.


Flash forward many years later…

Now I am a mom with a child who struggles with dealing with his emotions. He gets into cycles of anger and frustration that he cannot control.


This past Spring I realized I needed to reach out and get support. His anger issues were affected the whole family. His younger brother was most often the target of his frustration. I was miserable and could no longer handle the situation.


We started going to an art therapist who helped him start to name his feelings. She gave us a chart with over 20 different feelings such as angry, happy, excited, sad, frustrated, surprised, puzzled, etc.


The whole family joined in and did a daily check-in on how we were feeling. Over time it has become easier for him to identify his feelings and what to do when anger and frustration arise.


The art therapist helped him create Coping Cards for when he is having a “Red Light Moment.”


Here are some of examples of the coping skills:

Take a few deep breaths

Melt a piece of ice in your hands

Flick rubber bands across your room

Read a book

Suck on a sour candy (I was not a fan of this however I was told that the sour flavor can help change mood….and it works for him.)

Build a fort

Bounce a ball


Identifying his feelings and using coping skills has improved his ability to handle his anger and frustration. I would love to say that all is well and we have it figured out…but that would be a lie. We all know that change takes time.


When the art therapist introduced us to these strategies I was almost grateful for the struggle. What a gift it is to learn how to discuss your emotions and know how to deal with frustration without screaming or pounding on your brother.


The whole experience made me wonder what my teenage years would have looked like if I was able to verbalize “I am angry” or “I am frustrated and scared.”


I strongly believe if  had been able to identify my feelings, instead of just saying “I feel FAT”, my recovery process would have been sooner. Perhaps I would have learned how to effectively process my feelings instead of bingeing on ice cream and overdosing on laxatives.


Although I cannot go back, I can and do use coping strategies now. I know when I think I am “feeling fat” there is something going on underneath that statement. It usually means I am scared or upset.


If I am depressed or anxious, I reach for my journal instead of a box of cookies. I let myself cry. I reach out to a friend. I go for long walks in the woods. I take a bath. I focus on what I am grateful for. These are a few of my coping strategies.


We all need a few good coping strategies in our bag of tricks. Take a few minutes to think about what you could do when you are feeling frustrated or anxious and longing to find the nearest doughnut shop. Write your strategies down and keep them with you. You never know when they will come in handy.


One Response to Fat is Not a Feeling

  • Stephanie says:

    Oh I never thought of it that way but it is so true – fat is NOT a feeling. I see fat as feedback telling me what’s happening with me. I’m learning to see my body as my advocate.

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Michelle's style of coaching during the cleanse was informative, nurturing and supportive.

Jen McGown
One Yoga Philly