How Does It Feel To Be Called Fat?

September 13, 2010 at 2:20 pm 19 comments

Well it doesn’t feel good. I can attest to that.  

Recently on I got slammed for being too fat to have written an effective fat loss program in Ultimate You. It was upsetting of course, and I’ll admit, it was one of my biggest fears come true.   

I’m no athlete and I’m no model, so being part of the experts in the fitness community, at times I felt a little out of place. I’m a regular woman who eats well and workouts regularly….and I’ve had my share of body image issues. 

I’m only 5’3″ and have complained about my legs being too short. I’m curvy and have done my time hating my booty. And thanks to my Czech background, I’ve got a very round face and the cheeks to go with it. 

As I’ve grown from a girl into a woman, I’ve laid to rest most of my body image issues and reveled in the fact that I can lift weights with the boys, do a few pull-ups and have even come to appreciate the shape my curves give me. But I’ll admit, when I read “…the fat neck and cheeks of Dr. Kalanick…” – all those issues came flooding back. 

Now, maybe you’ve never had your issues called out on the World Wide Web, but most of us at one time or another has been the victim of someone’s nastiness – whether their words were true or not, it feels like crap.  
You can shrug it off and say “They are a jerk, so what”.  But let’s be honest, the biggest trash talk usually comes from our own heads.  Fat neck? Ha! What an amateur. I’ve probably done better than that in the last hour or so.  

So why can we look at what someone else says and see clearly that being nasty is…well, nasty, and not see our own thoughts so clearly? The nasty, negative chatter in our own minds is often so mean we wouldn’t utter it out loud to our worst enemy – and we really need to knock it off. 

But it’s on autoplay, it’s hard to stop and often when we get a handle on it and we’re feeling good something happens to trigger it all again. Our therapists will tell us, it’s been there for a long time – since childhood probably – and our adult relationships and experiences just add layer upon layer to our unhealthy and unhelpful beliefs about ourselves and our bodies. And let’s not forget the ever popular villain: the media. Most women feel they don’t or can’t measure up to images of the female body they see on TV and in magazines. But guess what ladies? I work with a number of these women and they have body issues too. 

Sowhat gives? Why are we all (or at least most of us) walking around most days hating this or that about our thighs or our bellies? Blame it on culture or the media or our mothers – but we’ve got a lot of hatin’ going on! 

The truth for me is that when Ultimate You was released I was in the best shape I’d ever been in, so to hear those comments about how I looked was very frustrating. But then I thought about it – was I feeling happy and completely satisfied with my body during that time? Well, yes I was happy with my body then but I’m not going to lie, I’d catch a glimpse of a trouble spot like the back of my thigh and think “ugh!”  And there would be days when those thoughts or the pressure I put on myself to look a certain way would get the best of me – and you know what? It’s BS. For most women our bodies are a work in progress, and that’s exactly what we do – we work on them. 

We work at the gym, we work to order a salad instead of a sandwich at a restaurant, we work when we pass up the dessert tray, we work not have another cocktail when we’ve gone out for just “a drink”. We work and we work – and most of the time it feels like just that: a lot of work.

How often do you order the salad with chicken instead of the slice of pizza for lunch and feel overwhelmed with contentment, satisfaction and joy (yeah, I’m using salad and joy in the same sentence)? With each bite you feel more and more satisfied knowing you’re eating something so good for you. Its fiber is filling up your tummy and aiding digestion, its nutrients reacting away in biochemical pathways, and the protein is balancing out your blood sugar so your cravings stay on an even keel. It’s sort of amazing actually – but how often do we feel it was easy and effortless to make the choice to feed ourselves very well?

How about at the gym – are you at the gym putting in your time, much like serving a jail sentence? Or are you there feeling powerful, strong, healthy and filled with self love when you catch a glimpse of your muscles in the mirror.

I am working on a new project called Nourishing Women (I’m working with some truly amazing women – these smart, strong ladies and their PhDs can bench more than some boys I know!). Since being asked to contribute, that word “nourish” has been stuck in my mind….nourish….hum…how often do any of us feel nourished by what we eat?

When we’re eating to lose weight or even to be healthy, we often feel confined or controlled by a plan – or there’s my favorite: “Dr Brooke is making me.”.  We’re usually not chewing on a mouthful of baked salmon thinking, “wow, I feel so nourished by this food.”.  Nourish is a good word, so is cherish.  How many of us cherish our bodies?  Cherish is defined as:  to treat with affection and tenderness; to hold dear.  How often do we act in ways that “hold ourselves dear?”

Eating healthfully, exercising regularly, committing to a weight loss goal – these are all wonderful things to do for ourselves, but if we are looking in the mirror, noticing every flaw and thinking critical thoughts everyday, well that’s not healthy – no matter what you weigh. 

So instead of just trudging it out at the gym or managing to somehow stomach some steamed veggies, try nourishing and cherishing yourself. While you’re doing that, I’ll be reminding myself that like most women, my body is a work in progress. Like yours, my journey to the perfect body goes on and on, and I can love myself on that journey, nourish myself, be healthy and not give in to nasty comments – including those in my own head – or dwell on the opinion of someone who clearly doesn’t cherish me. But you know what? That’s ok. It’s not their job to cherish me, it’s mine. 

And it’s yours – so while you’re working on creating your Ultimate You, love yourself a bit…it can’t hurt! 

Try these simple steps to start having more positive thoughts about your body: 

*List 3-5 things you love about your body, such as your smile, your skin, your feet, your biceps – anything. When you catch yourself having a negative thought about something you aren’t satisfied with yet, rattle of these things you like. You still had the nasty thought, but you can turn your attitude around with reminding yourself of the things you do like about you. 

*Stay focused on the process and appreciate the little goals.  If you can do a pushup now where you couldn’t before – that’s something to feel great about. If you’ve lost 2 pounds – well it may not be the 10 pounds you want to lose, but it is something and you did accomplish it.  Start each day listing all the things you’ve accomplished in your mind while you brush your teeth. 

*See yourself in your perfect body.  If you’ve been at your ideal weight and size, pull out a picture and place it on the fridge, bathroom mirror, car dashboard or somewhere else where you’ll see it every day.  If you have no idea what your perfect body looks like, just spend some time imaging it.  The more clearly you can see yourself in the body you want the more easily it will start to happen – thoughts do matter.  Thinking about your perfect body doesn’t make it appear overnight but it will help you feel better about yourself and your current body as you work your way towards it.  Spend at least 30 minutes a day (doesn’t have to be all in a row) seeing your fit, healthy, perfect body in your mind’s eye. And the sooner you can start to be the woman with that body, the sooner that body will show up. After all what does the woman with that perfect body do? She works out, she eats lots of veggies and protein and I’d venture to guess that she cherishes herself.


Entry filed under: Be Better, Feel Better, Look Better. Tags: , , , , .

Motivation…Is It Overrated? How Often Should You Eat?

19 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Cassandra Forsythe  |  September 13, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    Outstanding, Brooke!

    The funny thing is that even when a woman is at her “perfect weight” it’s usually still not perfect enough. But, that’s where Nourishing Women comes in: we will help women to love their bodies no matter what weight it is. The important thing is that you can move your body, love it for what it is and enjoy every minute you’re in it.

    And, what’s with the back of our thighs anyhow? 🙂 LOL!

  • 2. Perry Nickelston  |  September 13, 2010 at 8:14 pm

    Amazing article Doc! You are so right. Thank you for the great insight. By the way, I think you look awesome!

  • 3. Terri Trespicio  |  September 13, 2010 at 9:05 pm

    It takes courage to share something like this, Dr. Brooke. I commend you. A close family member of mine did enjoy some spotlight in mainstream media for a bit years ago–she’s a beautiful, talented woman, and yet she was ripped brutally by some really ugly-minded folks, on the littlest details of her appearance. Of course we always say “consider the source,” but sometimes it just plain hurts. But if we wait around for the world to love us first the way we want to be loved, we’re all in for a disappointment. We must learn to love ourselves first. And love isn’t an emotion: It’s an act.

  • 4. Joyti Bharaj  |  September 13, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    Woman are forever plagued by feeling what we do is “enough”…and enough is enough! Time for change! Thanks for writing this powerful piece and not just sharing your experience, but providing us with tools and suggestions on how to make ours a better one. 🙂

  • 5. Heidi  |  September 14, 2010 at 12:37 am

    Very nicely written!

  • 6. Joe Dowdell  |  September 14, 2010 at 2:15 am

    Awesome article!!!

  • 7. Cassandra  |  September 14, 2010 at 10:38 am

    Great article. Starting now, I am going to have positive thoughts about my body. After all, I put in the hard work at the gym to look fit and strong, and nourish myself to be healthy. I am going to love and cherish me. Thank you

  • 8. robert  |  September 15, 2010 at 1:32 am


    excellent info, keep it coming…

  • 9. Theresa Nesbitt  |  September 15, 2010 at 7:45 am

    This was a really compelling post. I think concern about our appearance is very evolutionarily rooted in the female gender. It is seen throughout history in a wide variety of cultures. As an OB-GYN I see so many women who “wish they didn’t care so much”. We struggle so hard to make it not matter. I think it will always matter and we all know it. We (as women) know it and we exploit it. We are aware how hurtful these little remarks are. Women are usually the ones “hitting below AND above the BELT”. Instead of trying to change our perfectly normal concern with our appearance and desirability we could be much more “socially condemning” about people who make such cruel remarks. It is a poor excuse to claim that you are trying to help people be healthier – they have mental and emotional health too – and I doubt they are unconcerned with their weight.

  • 10. Rickey Taylor  |  September 15, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    Excellent post Dr. Brooke. All women can relate and benefit from this post.
    Most of the negative feeling women get are from themselves. Those tips on how counteract those negative thoughts are golden.

  • 11. weighty  |  September 26, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    gonna send this to my mom

  • […] Lucky for me, our book was met with the highest praise from the big names in fitness which was great, but after all it was a smart, well done book. Things were going great…and then the worst happened: I got called fat.  […]

  • […] of course, I felt my eyes well up with tears as I remembered reading the review on Then I cried. I cried for at least the second time since I started this […]

  • 14. Margaret Ferrell  |  March 5, 2011 at 6:14 am

    Wow. Was just reading reviews on Amazon for your book. Saw the 2 star review and first thought the review was helpful, then I read all the comments and changed my mind. Plan on buying your book at BN tomorrow with my groupon. Looking forward to a good read. Yours will be the FIRST book on health/dieting/exercising I’ve ever read. So thank in advance. It’s neat to see your blog and see you are a real person. Thanks for sharing! 🙂 Hoping you’re going to give me the tools and motivation I need to continue changing my life!!!

    • 15. betterbydrbrooke  |  June 4, 2011 at 10:36 pm

      HI Margaret,
      Sorry for the delay in responding, somehow your comment slipped through the cracks on my end.
      And yeah, I am a real person, a real woman with a body image hang up….or two 🙂 I’m so grateful that in sharing that I’ve been able to be more helpful than I was before. I truly hope you are well on your way to your Ultimate You! And hope you are finding the blog useful and helpful on that journey – best of luck!

  • 16. Julia  |  June 4, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    Brooke – thank you so much for sharing something probably most of us would avoid like the plague. Your attitude and how you share that on “paper” is amazing! Maybe, just maybe, I’m not so bad after all! : ) You are a true beauty – inside and out!

    • 17. betterbydrbrooke  |  June 4, 2011 at 10:34 pm

      Thanks Julia! And it still amazes me how this post a year later is still read so much on my blog – I am so happy I wrote it and that women like you are finding it helpful. We are for sure our own worst critics – nonetheless it hurts when someone else is nasty to us. And I’m sure you’re not at all so bad after all 🙂
      Thanks for reading and I hope you’ll continue to find inspiration and good tips here 🙂

  • […] You….and criticized me for being too fat to have written an effective weight loss book.  My original response hit home with so many of you, so a year later I reflected on what I learned from this experience […]

  • 19. Samantha  |  November 2, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    I found this post after reading the reviews on Amazon.

    Thank you for writing this! At five foot two & three quarter inches, this Irish woman can attest to having body image issues too, even at a ‘perfect weight’. We definitely are our worst critics. I can remember feeling particularly chubby one day when one of my kid’s teachers asked me how I stay so tiny baking my kids all sorts of cookies?!

    Be grateful for your beautifully full face, it glows. A lot of women pay big bucks for facial injections to have a beautifully full high cheeks like yours.


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