Some days, I just feel FAT. I do not think I am the only one who has fat days, but it does feel odd for a guy to be saying that. Unfortunately, it is true.
On these days, I look around me and I feel like I am the largest person in the room. I have to frequently pinch my waist (an old habit) to make sure that every time I eat it is not instantly turned into blubber. I have to check myself in the mirror or measure my waist to make sure it is not true. The old voices of self doubt and belittling comments seem to get louder too.
Most recently I had one of these days last Thursday. Not only was I stressed from another hard week at work, but it was also the day of the Kona underpants run. For those of you who do not know about this tradition, it is where a bunch of incredibly lean and good looking triathletes, run down the streets of Kona in nothing but bikinis and speedos/thongs. While it started as a relaxed parody of the seriousness of triathlon, in recent years it has morphed into yet another showing of type A personalities with negative body fat percentages. When I started seeing pictures come across the social media wires, my day quickly devolved into a “fat day.” I felt bloated, out of shape, lazy and fat. It was another reminder of where I was not and of a dream deferred. I needed to take action quick.
While I am no expert, I have found some ways to cope with these days so that I do not go back to my old habits of calorie restriction, binging on food, or spending hours on the elliptical until the feelings subside.Many of these I got from going to AA meetings, which, while I never had a drinking problem, liked to go to because of the great community and the overlap between alcoholism and ED.
Firstly, I focus on prevention. One of my friends from AA, Herb, always told me that these thoughts and feelings just don’t pop out of nowhere; they are sparked by something. Moreover, we create the mental environment that allows the spark to flourish. For me, fat days typically come when I am stressed, tried, hungry, and frustrated about work or training. When I get like this, several things can set me off. While these trigger vary, for me, it can include fitness magazines, fitness related social media posts including looking at Strava, and eating highly palatable sugary food. Most days, I have no problem with these, but some days they can cause an avalanche of thoughts and emotions. What makes the difference is how I feel before I see these triggers, so I have to make sure I do not get to those levels by getting enough sleep and getting all the plant based nutrients I can blend.
When the spark flies though, I have to take quick action. I quickly turn off social media and try to find some quiet space. If it is in the evening, I immediately turn in and go to bed. If I am at work, though, it is a bit more difficult. I know I need to create some “head space” (a great by the way and highly encourage it) to re-center my mind. One mantra that helps is telling myself that:
By repeating or reminding myself of this, I am able to step off the rollercoaster of my mind and merely become an observer. I am not forcing my mind to think stop thinking but if “fat thoughts” do arise, I do not engage in them but comment that they are “interesting” then move on.
Fat days make me very aware that I will never be fully recovered from ED, so I have to be vigilant and not get complacent. ED has a way of twisting reality but only if you allow it and buy into the illusion…but that is just my two watts.