Let’s talk about Fat Days.
On one hand, fat is not a feeling. Fat is a physical substance which all of us have more or less of. So having a Fat Day isn’t a rational thing because in a literal sense, you are not appreciably more or less fat today than yesterday.
And yet, you knew what I was talking about when you read the title of this post, didn’t you?
If I dig deep enough, when I am having a “Fat Day,” what I am really having is a “bloated and disconnected day.” Blame it on the fact that I’ve eaten more Boursin cheese and Thai food recently. Blame it on an upcoming menstrual cycle. Whatever the reason, none of my clothes seem to fit right, my whole body feels a little bloated, and I feel a bit more disconnected and numb in my body than usual.
When I’m in the middle of a Fat Day, it’s like I don’t know the dimensions of my body anymore. My body feels less like “mine.”
I could have called this essay “advice for a bloated and disconnected day,” because that would be more accurate. But, for purposes of this post, I’m going to call it a Fat Day. Not because fatness is bad (it isn’t), but because in talking with a lot of people about their bodies, I know that’s how many people refer to these types of days. I want us to all be on the same page.
People have different experiences of what a Fat Day is, and what is helpful. But I wanted to share with you a couple of things that really help me during these times:
On a Fat Day, it is very, very tempting to extrapolate — either in the direction of restriction and dieting (I need to nip this fatness in the bud! No carbs for me today!) or in the direction of indulgence that doesn’t ultimately make us feel good (I am so frustrated with my body and so exhausted from trying so hard…I give up. I’m going to binge for the next four days.)
The most important thing you can do on a Fat Day is stall. Don’t make decisions about your future. I promise you that you will feel differently in 24 hours. Not that you won’t have any problems or dissatisfaction in 24 hours — but you will feel differently.
What if the Fat Day was a sign that you and your body needed a bit of extra loving and kindness?
That’s a rhetorical question. You and your body definitely need some extra love and kindness on a Fat Day. In fact, a Fat Day is basically an invitation from the universe to slow down and connect with what’s going on for you. So don’t just stuff down a couple extra cookies in frustration and push through your to-do list today. Instead, I urge you to feed your kids frozen pizza, tell your boss that you’re going to get her the presentation tomorrow, and take an extra hour or two to slow the heck down and chill out in a way that sounds nice to you.
If you are a busy person, it’s easy to skim over this piece of advice. But please don’t.
- Use kindness to decide on movement.
For most people, one of the causes of a Fat Day is feeling disconnected and maybe kinda weird in our bodies. So one of the most powerful things you can do is move in some way that helps you reconnect.
I’ll be honest, though. When I am in the throes of a pretty intense Fat Day (or even a Fat Hour), the last thing I want to do is exercise. So, for me, some form of purposeful rest can be a very kind first step.
But please know that eventually it will be helpful to physically connect to yourself in some way. Stretching or a gentle walk around the block is a great way to start. For some reason, doing a hilariously small number of push-ups (like, three) often helps me start the process of reconnection without overdoing it.
The key here is to listen to yourself and to be gentle, while also keeping in mind that movement is a great way to reconnect.
- Eat lightly and deliciously.
I’ve found that if I eat a lot of food, it is harder to feel my body. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing — sometimes I want to eat a lot because that slight numbness feels nice or heck, because I just feel like eating a lot.
But, again, one of the biggest symptoms of a Fat Day, for me, is that I’m cut off from my body. So it’s not a time, for me, to eat a TON of food — I’ll choose to eat a little more lightly instead. I won’t go hungry, but I’ll probably more consciously choose to be “lightly full” than I might on a different day, because I want to let the sensation in my body back in.
But I also believe eating delicious food that genuinely makes you happy is important on a Fat Day. It’s easy to get angry with yourself and pledge to basically go on a mini-diet or restrictive series of days (see above). I hope you know by now that a restrictive path usually makes things worse. So focus on making yourself feel happy and good, whatever that means for food selection.
- Gently attend to your appearance.
The crazy thing about this whole Fat Day thing is that in reality, we don't look particularly different than we did the day before. And yet, we feel completely different. If you looked inside my brain on a Fat Day, for example, there would be a lot of negative thoughts about my appearance. On a Fat Day, I do not feel cute.
One thing that works really well for me on a Fat Day is to gently attend to my appearance. I don’t mean that you need to adhere to any particular set of beauty standards, but I do mean that it can be helpful to put in a bit of effort to look nice in a way that pleases you.
For me, Fat Days tend to be correlated with days when I’ve been wearing my pajamas all day, my hair is in a strange bun on top of my head, and I haven’t showered since Tuesday. (I know, it’s shocking that I might not feel great in my body on those days). So just taking a shower or dealing with my hair or putting on my nice leggings or even a dress (!!!) can make a world of difference.
- Be more indulgent with yourself.
This is very similar to #2 above, but it is so important that I want to say it again. If you are having a Fat Day, or a Bloated and Disconnected Day, you might be feeling frustrated, sad, stressed, confused, or anxious. This is a day to be extra kind, rather than extra critical.
If I were to give you a one-sentence prescription for these days, it would be: Cut yourself waaaay more slack, do some gentle things you enjoy, and check back in with yourself in 24 hours.
I’d love to hear: How do you usually treat yourself on a Fat Day? What helps, and what makes the whole thing worse? Leave a comment below!