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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Oh No ... I'm Aware of My Fat!

I used to be a big fan of the Peanuts comic strip when I was growing up in the '70s. I could totally relate to Charlie Brown -- Mr. Outcast, Mr. Depressed, Mr. Can't-Get-No-Respect. I definitely felt like his female counterpart. Then, of course, there were all the other characters. We all knew someone who was a Lucy -- a pushy, loudmouthed, know-it-all. Thankfully, a lot of us also had our own personal Linus, a sensitive sort who'd always listen sympathetically to what we had to say.

I remember one Peanuts strip in particular that always stuck with me. I don't know why, but it did. It was the "Oh No ... I'm Aware of My Tongue!" strip. Does anyone else remember this? I have included it above. Unfortunately, the print is a little small, so I will reproduce the dialogue here for your reading ease:

Linus (looking very worried, with his hands over his mouth): Oh no! Not again!
Lucy: What in the world is the matter with you?
Linus: I'm aware of my tongue.
Lucy: You're what?
Linus: I'm aware of my tongue ... It's an awful feeling! Every now and then I become aware that I have a tongue inside my mouth, and then it starts to feel all lumped up ...
Lucy: That's the most stupid thing I've ever heard!
Linus: I can't help it ... I can't put it out of  my mind ... I keep thinking about where my tongue would be if I weren't thinking about it, and then I can feel it sort of pressing against my teeth ... Now it feels all lumped up again .... the more I try to put it out of my mind, the more I think about it ...
Lucy (arms in the air, walking away): Good grief!
Lucy (she is standing still)
Lucy: (now her hands are over her mouth): Oh no!
Lucy (going back and screaming at Linus): I oughta knock your block off!

I love this comic! Other than simply being hilarious, it is also extremely wise. It's a perfect example of how we can allow an unpleasant thought to overtake our minds and become an obsession. For some reason, this comic revisited my mind recently, and I started thinking: How often have we found ourselves being aware of our fat? What situations or settings make you acutely aware of your fat in an unpleasant way?

Maybe you were at a party, looked around, and felt like you were the biggest person there. I think a lot of us were aware of our fat in school. Were you the biggest one in class, or the next-biggest? How far up or down the fat scale were you? A dressing room in a store is a great place for becoming ultra-aware of your fat -- particularly if you need to buy something for a special occasion, like a wedding. How about at a swimming pool or the beach? Yeah, you're definitely aware of your fat there.

Then there are those of us who are ALWAYS aware of our fat, every single second of every single day. It's no way to live your life. If you kept track of every single moment that your fat entered your mind, what would the tally be at the end of the day? A day has 24 hours. Let's subtract 8 of them for sleep, leaving us with 16 hours of thought. How much of those 16 hours of thought is consumed by your fat?

An interesting experiment to try is to keep track of your "fat thoughts" in a journal. Every time you have a fat thought  (my ass is bigger than hers, OMG my stomach is hanging out, I have to try that new diet) write it down in your journal. Try to do this vigilantly for a few days. Then go back and take a look. If you have pages and pages of fat thoughts, those pages are taking up space in your mind and leaving less room for better thoughts to dwell (I feel wonderful today. I really want to take that class, it looks so interesting. I would be perfect for that job. I love the way my boobs look in this top.)

Wouldn't you rather live your life with these kinds of thoughts in your mind rather than critical ones?

One of the ways to learn how to deal with fat thoughts is simply to become aware of them. Try this "Tracking Your Fat Thoughts" exercise along with me:

Next week, we'll discuss what to do with these thoughts after we have become aware of exactly what they are and how frequently they occur.

I dream of living my life without awareness of my fat even entering the picture. It would be wonderful to live in a world where the fact of being fat is so insignificant that it's just a visual phenomenon that all humans take for granted, like the sun, trees, or grass. Our fat just simply IS, like all those other natural things ... something that we see every day and something that everyone has accepted as just being part of life on planet Earth.

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