I Lost That Lovin’ Feeling

15 Jan

Last week I had that old, familiar experience, of “feeling fat.”

hello my name is

Forget, for just one moment, that it’s not really possible to feel “fat.” Fat is not an emotional state. It’s not happy or sad or lonely or excited or angry. It’s not something we feel, per se, just something that is a part of all of our bodies, some more than others. We don’t really feel fat any more than we feel brunette, or we feel 5’8”. Fat is just a part of our physical make-up, and it’s not, therefore, an emotion.

But, of course, it’s become a de facto emotion for tens of millions of women all over the world. Probably hundreds of millions, really.   Because “feeling fat” has become shorthand for the stuff that’s harder to admit: I’m feeling self-conscious, I’m feeling vulnerable, I’m feeling singled out, I’m feeling disappointed, I’m feeling afraid of being judged, I’m feeling exposed, etc. All of those statements are so much harder to explain and say, out loud, with our big girl outside voices, than “I feel fat.” As women, especially those of us who have said it before, we all know exactly what that means.  So we don’t bother to ask what the actual emotion is, because we already know. Or we don’t know but we don’t care. Or we suspect, but don’t want to get in to anything too messy, like real, honest-to-god feelings. Yuck.

feelings on off


But last week, in my favorite yoga class, I found myself “feeling fat.” I need to stress how much I adore this class. It has been my main grounding tool for the past 6 months or so, and I look forward to it every week. The poses are sometimes soothing, sometimes a bit challenging, but no matter what we’re doing with our bodies, my mind and my spirit has always felt 100% safe in that classroom, with that instructor. Until this past week.

At the very end of an otherwise- lovely class, the instructor had us do this pose in which we sat on bolsters, one leg bent behind us and one leg in front, knee bent and foot on the ground. So far, so good, although I couldn’t help but notice that I needed 2 bolsters instead of 1. Then we were invited to lean back, to stretch through the thighs. (For those yogis out there, the pose was Reclined ½ virasana.) I barely moved before I felt the stretch, and would have been content to hold that posture all day had I not made the mistake of looking around the room at everyone else, and then looking down at my own thigh, spread out and pressed against the bolster, seemingly stretching the boundaries of gravity and physics, pushing maximum density.

reclined half virasana

NOTE:  This is not what I looked like doing this pose.

The thing is, I’m normally somewhat proud of my thighs. I have what one friend affectionately calls “thick” thighs, and I have a bit of a quad fetish in the gym; I spend far more time lunging and squatting and leg pressing than I care to admit. I love having strong thighs, and I want them to be seen as such; I want to look like a woman who could kick somebody’s ass with ease and grace. So it was jarring and weird to look down at my thighs and realize I was feeling, yep, there it is, “fat.”

Really, I think I was feeling disoriented and confused. And I was also feeling those other things: singled-out, afraid of being judged, exposed, vulnerable, etc.

But here’s the really fucked-up part: nobody in that room was singling me out or judging me, or even noticing me, really. That was all me. That was nothing but the mean-spirited voices that apparently still rent out a slice of my brain, ready and willing to pounce on my self-esteem with the slightest of opportunities. I have spent decades trying to silence those voices (thanks, Dad!), and for the most part, I have. But sometimes, when I least expect it… I feel fat. And that’s okay. It really is. It just serves as a reminder that there is always more work to do, always more self-love to be had, always more trust to be given and gained, to and by myself.

feelings math


I texted a friend after that yoga class, someone I knew would understand what had happened. She said all the things you would want a great friend to say, and also sent me a link that was perfectly-timed. I’m including it at the bottom of this post. It’s a reminder that at some point, we owe it to ourselves, as women and just as human beings, to stop worrying about the superficial shit and focus on being happy and healthy, whatever that looks like for each of us, as individuals. It’s not easy, and in our culture, it’s not intuitive. But it’s the best and most we have. And it’s the best and most we can do for ourselves, to really feel whatever it is we feel, and to identify it honestly and bravely.


Lily-Rygh Glen, Certified Personal Trainer




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