You Are Not Fat

Many people confess to me when they think they’ve gained weight. They truly feel bad about their suspected transgressions but their guilt is misguided. Since I don’t have the time nor the patience to climb into everyone’s head and figure out why they think or feel this way, I always to resort to the time-tested sledgehammer method of solving their problem:

“You don’t know what you’re talking about so shut up. You. Are. Not. Fat.”

It sounds mean and more than a little rude but it’s necessary. As a trainer, the mainstream thought is that I should be empathetic, let them express how they feel and what they’re thinking. I don’t buy that. Being nice means sometimes having to derail their train of thought so violently that there is no hope for it ever running on those rails again. For the record, let me state that in none of these cases is the person obese, or even carrying significant levels of bodyfat. It’s just a feeling they have that becomes internalized as “I’m fat.” And that’s something I can’t allow them to do.

Being upset that you weigh 5 pounds more than you did last week does not make you fat. Not fitting into a pair of pants that have been washed and shrunk countless times does not make you fat. Eating an extra serving at dinner does not make you fat. Feeling guilty that you skipped the gym 4 days in a row does not make you fat. Reality doesn’t change just because you feel a certain way (if it did, we’d all be in trouble). Learn how to differentiate between emotions and reality. When the lines blur between the two, you’re headed for trouble.

Being “fat” has become a catchall expression for anytime you weigh more than you think you should, or are of a bigger dimension than you’d like, or even for a day when you just don’t feel pretty/handsome/whatever. Don’t fall into that trap. The mental and emotional connotations are far out of sequence to the descriptive aspect of the word. The word “fat” tends to set off alarm bells in many people’s heads. Even the technically more precise “I’ve gained some extra fat over the holidays” has the same capacity to send people into panic mode as the less polished “Look at me, I’m so fat.”

While fat can describe a person of significant adipose mass, for your purposes, I’m only allowing you to use it to describe the substance. You can refer to fat as the layer of stored energy that it is. You can refer to in reference to a percentage of your body mass. But that’s it. No calling yourself fat or saying you feel fat or anything like that. You know what, while I’m handing out decrees, quit weighing yourself too…that probably isn’t helping things either.

So no more being fat, no more feeling fat and no more weighing yourself. If I catch you doing it, you already know what my response is going to be.

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