Nutritionist Lyndi Cohen on what to do when your feeling fat

‘Feeling fat’ is something I know well. I spent many years ‘feeling fat’ and hating myself for it.

A number of things caused me to ‘feel fat’. For example:

Seeing a photo of myself where I looked much bigger than I wanted to.

Feeling uncomfortable in my clothes.

If a friend lost weight, and I didn’t.

Scrolling on social media and comparing myself to others.

Overeating or not exercising as much as I wanted.

Unfortunately, ‘feeling fat’ doesn’t motivate you to get healthy. When you ‘feel fat’, your knee-jerk reaction is to go on a diet or bury your head in a tub of Ben & Jerry’s.

Neither of those things will help you stop ‘feeling fat’ or get healthy in the long term.

But here are some things that can make a difference…

What to do when you ‘feel fat’:

Stop trying to lose weight. I mean it…

It may sound counterintuitive but hear me out. It’s the only way.

You’ve spent your whole life trying to lose weight, right? And be honest… where has that gotten you? Not far. Even after all these years. Here’s the thing you need to know.

Trying to lose weight prevents you from losing weight.

Here’s my story. You might know that I lost 20kg (45lbs) when I stopped dieting. What you might NOT know is that it took four years to lose that weight. Averaged out over the four years, that means I lost 100g (3.5oz) of weight per week.

So if my goal had been to ‘lose weight’, I would have given up when I barely lost weight each week. I would have thought “what’s the point?!” and given up.

Luckily, my goal wasn’t to lose weight. My goal was to change my habits and be healthy. It took me a decade of dieting to realise that as long as ‘weight loss’ was my goal, I would keep going around in circles, stuck struggling with my weight. If I wanted a different outcome, then I had to try something different.

So, I made health, not weight loss my goal. I stopped asking “Can I eat this?” and started reminding myself that, “Yes, I can eat this”. Then asked “but how will it make me feel?”. Food became a choice. When I stopped trying to control food, food stopped controlling me.

“But didn’t you still want to lose weight?”. Of course, I did!

‘Feeling fat’ sucks. The urge to diet is so strong. But if I didn’t invest in myself then – for the long-term – and make ‘health not weight’ my goal, then I’d still be struggling now. How many more years would I waste ‘feeling fat’ and stuck?

As long as you hold onto your weight loss goals, you’ll stay stuck struggling with your weight, yo-yo dieting and ‘feeling fat’.

Stop trying to swim to the other side – build a bridge instead

Trying to diet is like trying to swim across a river with a really strong current. You can only swim for so long before you get tired and end up back where you started, feeling like a failure.

Instead, I suggest you build a bridge. Sure – it takes much longer to build, but once you invest in getting solid foundations, you never have to swim across the river again.

How do you build a bridge? You build a healthy relationship with food. You re-learn how to eat, not for weight loss but for your health. You let go of food guilt.

I teach people how to ‘build a bridge’ and develop a healthy relationship with food in the Keep It Real Program. I always remind participants in the group that “even if it takes one year, if it means you never have to diet or worry about your weight again after the year, it’ll be so worth it”. And it really is worth it.

Shift your habits

If you “feel fat”, there is something proactive things you can do right now about it. Small habits performed every day add up to make a big difference, that make you feel healthy, stronger and boost your confidence.

I’m anti-diets and rules (because they don’t work) but I am a big fan of healthy habits and routines. And right now – you need a healthy routine.

Here are some ideas:

  • Stop drinking alcohol mid-week.
  • Eat a snack just before leaving work each day so you don’t arrive home ravenous.
  • Get 10,000+ steps a day.
  • Carry a water bottle with you.
  • Cook dinner at home on weeknights (from Monday – Thursday). Make twice as much so you’ll also have lunch.

Lock in enjoyable sweat time

Calories and weight loss might motivate you to sign up to the gym, but only enjoyment will keep you going. So, let’s get real about exercise.

  1. What type of exercise do you ACTUALLY enjoy? I like walking with a podcast, pilates, yoga and sometimes circuits. What do you enjoy?
  2. Book it in your diary. This helps you commit. I book myself in for pilates classes a few days a week (which I have to pre-pay and this helps me not cancel). On Saturdays, I arrange to meet a friend for a walk so that helps ensure that happens. For the other days, I go for a walk with a podcast I love (because I know that my mood is so much better when I get 10,000+ steps a day).
  3. Exercise is a choice, not a punishment. Which means you shouldn’t feel guilty for not exercising. Rather than seeing it as something you ‘have to do’, realise that it’s something you ‘get to do’.

Clear out your wardrobe

Get rid of those clothes that don’t fit you, including the too-tight skinny jeans that make you feel squished and bloated and feel fat.

Stop buying clothes in the smaller size. That is a sure fire way to ‘feel fat’.

If you want to look good and feel good, buy clothes that fit, regardless of the number on the label. No one else can see the size!

Learn how to love your body

Feeling fat has nothing to do with your weight. It’s got everything to do with how you feel about yourself.

You know I’m right because even skinny people ‘feel fat’.

You can spend the rest of your life ‘feeling fat’, worrying about your weight or you can decide that the best thing you can do for yourself is to love your body and be healthy.

And for the record… loving your body is not code for ‘giving up’. In fact, it’s the opposite. When you love your body, you start to take better care of yourself.

Lyndi Cohen is a media nutritionist, TV dietitian and the Nude Nutritionist. This article originally appeared on her website and was republished here with permission.