You’re Not Fat!  You’re Frustrated, Anxious and Tense

Let’s borrow this acronym for the reason you may be holding on to extra weight.

Photo courtesy of Pexels for Canva

I actually heard this acronym in a meeting today.  One of the participants said, “I’m feeling FAT, you know, like frustrated, and so on.”  I had never heard that before, so I looked it up.  It’s actually an acronym used for learning disabled students. (The video by F.A.T. City Workshop is a very interesting video, by the way.) It stands for frustrated, anxious and tense.  It got me to thinking, isn’t that the reason many people hold on to weight?  

Of course, I understand that there can be other factors, genetics, medical diagnosis, bad habits, etc., but most people hold on to weight because of feelings that cause stress, fear, or worry which, raise your cortisol and ghrelin levels.  Raised cortisol levels cause inflammation, and ghrelin causes us to eat food for comfort, and raises cravings for sugary and fatty foods.

There are a few times I’ve put on weight in my life.  First, I put on weight in college because I had freedom to eat whatever I wanted, but also because I was anxious.  I was in a new town, with few female friends, and living alone because my roommate left to live with her boyfriend after one night in our dorm room.

The second time I put on weight, I was stressed at my job, there was tension at home between my new blended family, and I had recently lost my mother, who I was very close to.  

The third time I put on weight, was a worldwide pandemic, a home renovation after a flood, and marital tension.  

I would say, each time, I was frustrated, anxious and tense.  When I reached out for support, focused on self-care, and got busy doing things I loved, I lost the weight again.  (Well, okay, this last time, I’m still working on it.)  

Could Your Weight Gain Have To Do With Frustration, Anxiety, and Tension?

You might be feeling FAT too, (frustration, anxiety, and tension).  Ask yourself these questions:

  • Did my weight gain begin with a stressful situation?
  • Is there a relationship in my life that is causing bad feelings?
  • Have I been through a recent trauma, where I comforted myself with food?
  • Are there certain times of day that I reach for food, even though I’m not hungry?
  • Was using food as a coping mechanism taught in my childhood home?
  • Did I go through trauma as a child that made me put on weight as a protection?
  • Am I lonely or bored?
  • Is there someone in my life that tries to control me?

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, your weight could be a symptom of negative emotions.  It’s time to reflect on feelings that you might literally be stuffing down with food.

Stop Feeling FAT

Carrying around extra weight just adds to the frustration, anxiety and tension.  None of us really want that to be our coping mechanism.  Food just happens to be one thing we can control in our lives.  It often brings back memories of happy times, and celebrations.  

One of my comfort foods is Dr. Pepper.  We never had Dr. Pepper in our home, but we did have soda.  My mom would often pour a small glass of soda after dinner.  She would let my brother and I have a little bit too.  We would sit beside her on the couch and enjoy our soda while we watched evening TV together.  

The Dr. Pepper part came in when we went to restaurants, which was usually some type of celebration, or special treat.  I drank a lot of Dr. Pepper that first year of college, and again after my mom passed.  It took a coach friend, Claire Ketchum, to help me connect the Dr. Pepper to comforting times with my mom.  No wonder it has been so hard for me to give up!  I’ve given up every other type of soda.  I can’t drink any of it.  It’s either too sweet, or has artificial sweeteners that I can’t stand.   (Yes, I know Dr. Pepper is really sweet too.  Funny how the subconscious mind works.)

These things have helped me when I feel frustration, anxiety and tension:

  • Get busy doing something I enjoy, whether it’s learning a new skill, doing a job I love, or participating in a community group or service.
  • Get support from other therapists or coaches.
  • Spend time with people I care about.
  • Exercise outdoors.  The sunshine and fresh air help renew my spirit.
  • Practice lots of self-care by spending devoted time reading inspirational books, meditating, and exercising.
  • Journaling

I’ve also had to tweak some things I was eating, like removing gluten from my diet.  My digestion issues cleared up right away after that.  There is some controversy over whether that is a mindset thing too, but for now, when I try foods with gluten again, I have stomach issues.  The jury is still out on that one for me.  For now, I will avoid it.  

My point in adding that part is, if there is a food that is causing you obvious issues, don’t feel bad about not eating it.  That is your prerogative.  However, when I personally noticed I was cutting out more and more foods, I knew that there was something else at play.  We could go into all kinds of arguments about pesticides, depleted soil, intestinal bacteria, etc. etc., but the bottom line is, when we are in a good place emotionally, not feeling FAT (frustrated, anxious and tense), foods don’t seem to bother us as much.  And, we don’t hold on to all that extra weight.  One could make the argument that the real physical symptoms we are experiencing from food, begin in the mind, with stress and negative emotions.  

What do you think?  Are negative emotions causing you to hold onto extra weight?  Do you experience cravings for comfort food during stressful times?  

For support with stressful relationships, boundaries and self-care, I invite you to check out some of my resources here.

*This information is for entertainment purposes only.  These are expressly the opinions of Lori Moulton Booty.  Speak to your doctor before making any dietary changes. 

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