You look great! Have you lost weight?
You think you're fat - look at me!
I can't wear that swimsuit, I'm too fat.
She shouldn't be wearing that shirt - its way too tight.
Crop my arm out of that photo - it looks huge!
I wish I was as skinny as you.
Fat Talk is Negative Energy
So why even dedicate a blog post to Fat Talk? It is pervasive throughout our society - there's no way we can squash it. The stereotypes of women that the media engenders into our minds don't have a negative effect - that's just researchers looking for something to write about.
Just kidding. Fat Talk is an extremely detrimental phenomenon that affects every facet of our society - not just our young girls and women.
Fat talk leads you into a downward spiral of self-deprecating behaviors in multiple areas of your life. The negative energy generated by fat talk - exacerbated by its contagious nature - will encourage you to over eat instead of fuel your body, to skip your workouts instead of move for joy, and to remain in toxic relationships instead of seeking to surround yourself with love. (2)
Internal Fat Talk generates guilt and shame, and these are not motivators to work out or eat better if that's what your excuse has been. Guilt is counterproductive and makes you feel shame - it doesn't make you feel healthy and normal and confident. Guilt is a waste of time - time you could be spend doing other things. How does your eating impact you in the grand scheme of life? Indulging in one dessert will not tank your health for life; you aren't weak because you were hungry; you are more than the food that you eat. (2)
And believe me when I tell you - it's negative effects don't just reach you. Even if Fat Talk is a habit of yours, and you don't think it even penetrates the layers of your brain that process insults - it is just as negative as "debby downers" and "party poopers" and has the same effect on those around you - your Fat Talk brings everyone down.
How to Stop Fat Talk
You can stop Fat Talk with cognitive-behavioral techniques, the same way you stop negative thoughts in your head.
Every time you think "my thighs are so huge", "if only my legs were longer", "I have such flabby arms" - take a moment - pause - and acknowledge that thought. It might be difficult at first - Fat Talk is something many of us do without thinking, and so those thoughts just fly around in our head, often without us recognizing them. But in order to change your behavior, you have to recognize it and do something to stop its trajectory. (2)
To stop the Fat Talk, you need to replace the negative talk with positive talk. It can go like this (all in your head!)
A good rule of thumb for internal Fat Talk is - would you say it to your friend - "Your thighs are huge!" No, you wouldn't! Because that's mean. So don't say it to yourself.
This technique also applies to comparing yourself to others. "If only I had abs like her." "Her arms are so toned." "She's so thin." Look around - all women look different and if you put that media-induced definition of beauty out of your head for a moment, you'll realize that the woman with curves and a beautiful smile when she laughs is also beautiful, and the student athlete with a stocky body is beautiful because she knows all that her body is capable of. And remember - those women likely experience Fat Talk, too, and maybe they're looking at you and thinking you're beautiful.
The Healthy Ideal
Fashion models aren't the norm - they're the 2%. If mannequins were real, they'd be too thin to bear children. Healthy looks different for each woman - we shouldn't consider models and celebrities the be all-end all of beauty. Your brain has it's own idea of beauty - tucked back there, squashed by what society and media has tried to tell us about beauty - so put that preconceived notion of beauty out of your mind for a minute, and look around. Look in the mirror. What do you see?
(1)'Fat Talk' Compels but Carries a Cost. NY Times. http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/05/27/fat-talk-compels-but-carries-a-cost/?_php=true&_&_r=0
(2)'How to Become Fat Talk-Free'. Operation Beautiful. http://www.operationbeautiful.com/release-form/how-to-become-fat-talk-free/
a blog about health, wellness, nutrition, and fitness from an epidemiologist / dietitian with personal trainer experience
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