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What nurses can do when we feel fat


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Dear Sean ~

I feel fat. I haven’t exercised in weeks. I’ve gone WAY off my diet too many times to count. I’m bloated, puffy, and I’m feeling…fat.

It’s gotten so that I can’t even motivate myself anymore!

— Frustrated

Dear Frustrated ~

First of all, we need to recognize that “feeling fat” probably happens to everyone. But you can fight the negativity by getting rid of the guilt.

Let me explain.

I’ve heard your lament from many of my colleagues, friends and family. And I not only ‘hear’ it…uhhmm.. err… I say it (let the snide jokes and comments begin). Yes, there are many times during a given day, or a given week that I feel like I’ve either gained ten pounds or I’ve bloated up and puffed up to an unreasonable amount of weight!

I have no idea why it happens, but I do know it happens. In fact, it happens to everyone! Yes, everyone – those who say it doesn’t’ happen to them are just to afraid or ashamed to admit it. We ALL have to battle with our minds on this one. For some strange reason our psyche is never fully satisfied with torturing us, it has to find other inventive ways to making us feel guilty about our actions!

That is exactly what this phenomena is – a manifestation of guilt. Either guilt about something we did or guilt about something we didn’t do.

These are the most likely culprits of ‘fat’ guilt:

  • Not making it to the gym at all (or not as often as you would have liked)
  • Eating something grossly unhealthy (take your pick on this one – fast food, sweets, candy, etc)
  • Spending too much time doing nothing (yes – being a total blob or couch potato for an entire day)
  • Cheating on your so-called diet (although you know how I feel about the word diet- grr)
  • Cheating on your activities at the gym, or your workout (yes – we call this ‘doggin’ it’ or simply going through the motions)

Those are just a few. I’m willing to bet you could come up with even more items to add to the list that activates your guilt. Guilt about how you feel, how you look, just you in general.

I’m here to tell you that a) if you don’t pay attention to how you eat, you will gain weight. But, b) it’s not as bad as your guilt sometimes tells you it is.

I’m living proof. OK, let me re-phrase that. I tested out the ‘guilt-theory’ by the numbers. In essence I wanted to see if I truly was getting ‘fat’ when my guilt was getting the best of me. I tested out my feeling of ‘feeling’ fatter or heavier, or slower when I didn’t make it to the gym, or didn’t get to workout for over ten days. During that ten day span I also had take out food on three of those days. I also ate fatty snacks late at night. I also took the elevator instead of the stairs, etc. (the list goes on!).

Turns out, I did gain weight. My weight fluctuated by three pounds. My guilt was telling me I had gained at least ten! Bare in mind, you can gain or lose up to five pounds of your body weight in a 24 hour period just from water alone.

My guilty psyche was torturing the living daylights out of me during those ten days! I would look in the mirror and my face would look rounder. I’d take off my shirt and I could see my belly getting bigger. I felt like I had to loosen by belt buckle, and don’t even get me started on how I actually ‘felt’ during the day. I felt ‘off’ – as if things that I had to carry were just starting to get heavier and the stairs I had to take were never ending. I couldn’t catch my breath!

So here is the take home message – even during the weeks when you really let yourself go, don’t let the guilt win. It’s not as bad as you think and all you have to do is take the stairs again, hide the stack of junk food take out menus, get back to your favorite exercise activity, and just slow down a bit to live a little more consciously.

Our mind is the most powerful weapon we have in our arsenal for true weight loss. So why not let it work for you and not against you?

Scrubs Editor
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