Stop the Fat Chat Already!

Have you ever noticed that in a group of women the conversation inevitably turns to dieting and losing weight? I shouldn’t eat this! I need to lose 10 pounds. My thighs are huge. I am on this new diet. It seems like this is the number one topic women talk about besides their families. Why is this? We have become obsessed with weight loss and dieting as a culture. It seems that the more we talk about it, the more weight we gain. So what is with the obsession? With all of the magazines and billboards telling you how to drop 10 pounds by the weekend, eat “fat burning foods” or lose inches without changing anything, how do we focus our attention on anything else? Don’t even get me started on lasers that melt away your fat!

60+ Billion in sales! That is the profit figure for the US diet industry in 2011. We are spending more and more money on quick fixes. Sure, they work in the short-term, but rarely do people find lifelong success. Why? The extreme behaviors around these diets aren’t sustainable. The restriction surrounding them sets us up for overeating. Our bodies like other animals are built on a feast or famine principle. Biologically, we don’t know that we have restaurants or grocery stores on every corner and can walk into our kitchen to eat whenever we want. When we restrict and starve ourselves, our body will override any willpower we may have and try to eat as much as possible because our body does not trust us to feed it again in the near future.

We are continually bombarded with messages that tell us that we are not good enough as we are. We are constantly faced with advertisements telling us that we would be better and happier if only we bought this product or that. Mostly, we are told we would be happy if we lost weight. Many people would agree with this statement. However, the fact is that as diet products have emerged, our weight has as well. We have obsessed to the point that we think of nothing else. We eat, sleep and breathe dieting. It seems as though we hate our bodies. If we have such dissatisfaction about something that is so much of a part of our lives, then we can’t feel good about ourselves. I am not saying that we shouldn’t make changes to our weight if we are at risk for health issues, but this overwhelming dissatisfaction leads to a dangerous cycle of binging and overeating which further increases the body hatred and further damages our self-esteem. We continually beat ourselves up for lack of progress or eating something we tell ourselves we shouldn’t.

Let’s talk about the work should. How often do you hear someone say they SHOULD do something? What that really means is that they feel like they are expected to change, but don’t really want to. This is a recipe for failure. When we place those expectations on ourselves, but don’t really want to follow through, we set ourselves up to feel disappointed, guilty, and ashamed. Over time, it can even lead to feelings of depression and hopelessness because we continually feel like a failure when we don’t meet these expectations. When we consciously make the choice to change our eating or activity habits because we want to feel better rather than obsessing about how we SHOULD behave, we are much more likely to make changes because it is change for the right reasons. If you aren’t invested in this,Stop the Fat Chat Already!! If you do truly want change, then stop talking about it and start doing it, but start slowly. Small changes add up over time and are much easier to maintain. If you try to do a complete overhaul, you will feel overwhelmed and give up.

Stop obsessing and start living!

Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis has a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Weber State University and a Master's degree in Social Work from the University of Utah. She has been working in the mental health field since 2001.

One Response to Stop the Fat Chat Already!

  1. Mary Moonen, LCSW, CAP September 16, 2012 at 8:11 am #

    Michelle…I loved your article…..First of all, it’s great to “meet” another LCSW.
    Most importantly, your article resonated quite deeply with me.
    I have been on both sides of this coin…trying to diet..talking about dieting…telling people what I would “like to look like”…etc…Then, having trouble with body weight, body image, shame, guilt, and remorse from overeating after a period of time from “trying” to restrict certain foods from my “diet.” What a viccious cycle. I am NOW no longer willing to subject myself to that psychological abuse that I receive from the media, radio, magazines,tv,,,computer……it’s really out of control!
    I will no longer subject myself from my OWN psychological abuse of negative self talk, or “hating the way I look.” Today, I work on taking care of my body….trying to eat healthy…I dont eliminate any foods. I go to the gym….minimum of 2x/week…try to pack some healthier lunches..I stay away from the self “attack” and re-direct my thinking. If I am with others, I ask them to pls do the same, can we PLEASE talk about what is validating to our self esteem? And this nation is at an all time HIGH RISK of medical issues due to so many people having obesity. So, I agree…we can “talk about hating the way our thighs look….etc…talk about our NEW diet..” And stay miserably unhealthy and overweight., or take small steps to GET healthier, not only in relation to weight issues, but overall wellness. I often think, someday, if I new how to go about the process, I would love to research the LASTEST amounts of media bombardment that WOMEN predominantly experience in an average week. There has been research, but I would love for it to be updated. Even if many people don’t watch hours of tv, or read magazines, being on the computer many hours can still have a serious influence with these adds. Just for today, I will exercise. It won’t be to compensate for the empty calories I eat, it will because I want a strong, healthy body. I will exercise for the stress reduction. I will enjoy some of the ways I used to play as a kid…go biking…toss a volleyball around…but MOST of all, I will not engage in “Fat talk”, and hurt anyone or myself with neagative messages…I will only honor and encourage self care and healthy living. Peace to you!

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