11 Feb

I originally started this blog to talk about my struggle with food and weight, and then from my writing my realisation that drinking was the real problem emerged. It was a real shock. I was originally focused on quitting drinking as a means to weight loss: in the space of 18 months I’d gone from an emaciated underweight person to a healthier looking shape, but one whose weight came from the increased booze intake, not necessarily a better relationship with food.

My relationship with food now is probably the healthiest its ever been- I don’t restrict myself too much and don’t have huge guilt over eating sweet things or not existing off vegetables alone. But the reality is, I feel fat.

 I’m marathon training at the moment, and completed a race last weekend where some photos went up of me online. I look really heavy. I nearly cried when I saw them. I’m used to looking thin and elegant and in my running clothes I looked squat and a bit dumpy.

But my body is stronger and fitter than its ever been, it’s more nourished than its been in years and mentally, my relationship with food is better. I’m really struggling to reconcile these two opposing things- on the one hand feeling stronger and healthier and on the other hand feeling really fat and unattractive.

I’m not quite sure what to do. I don’t want to launch myself into a diet plan, because quite frankly, I don’t have the energy to get caught up in thoughts of restriction and rules. I’m running huge amounts, but I’ve learnt that for me, my body no longer responds to running because it’s so used to that kind of exercise. I’ve been running for 8 years and at first, weight dropped off but now it never does.

The most obvious solution to make a change to my body is to eat clean, nourishing food and to employ the “listen to my body” strategy, fueling it as needed, but I don’t yet trust myself to do that. If I did that, I think I’d just want to eat all the time. I can’t yet distinguish between hunger, emotional hunger and just wanting a sweet treat.

I don’t actually need to lose very much weight at all to look slim, so it’s not something I should be thinking so much about, but I haven’t lost anything at all since stopping drinking and definitely gained over Christmas when I was drinking again. I feel completely powerless over my weight, which isn’t necessarily true, but I don’t feel I can change it without some dramatic regime I’m not willing to do right now. This probably isn’t true, and some small daily changes could start to make a difference over time, but the idea of doing anything at all feels exhausting.

 I know I have to be patient and put sobriety first and not get too hungry (being hungry really makes me crave alcohol) but I’m finding it really hard to look at myself in the mirror every day. Sometimes I feel like I literally shift shape before my very eyes as I look at my reflection.

I hate the self-absorption of worrying about weight, but the truth is, I see my shape now as a symbol of my alcoholism and shame. If I hadn’t started drinking, I probably would still be very thin, and my body just feels like a product of my binges. But at the same time, it’s strong and toned, just carrying a little more fat than I’d like.

Why do we focus on our bodies so much? I’m the strongest I’ve ever been emotionally, and yet I dwell on this external manifestation of self.

I’m going to try this week to make small steps, just focusing on each food choice as a nourishing one, a bit of a “day at a time” approach to food, not starving myself, just trying to make the best possible choice available. We’ll see how that goes. 

34 Responses to “Fat.”

  1. wren1450 February 11, 2014 at 1:56 pm #

    Even though I “liked” your post, I don’t; I hate it. I, too, have severe self-image problems. All I can say is that you could look like the top model in the world and you know you would still say, “I hate thus-and-so about my body.” I have read in interviews that Julia Roberts hates her hands. Angelina Jolie hates something about herself. Seriously?? Women are really ripped off in the area of self-esteem. Men get sexier and more distinguished as they age; women do not. I could starve myself for a month and I still will have big hips.

    I agree with what you wrote. Worrying about your weight now (and, hey, you are training for a marathon, so it can’t be that bad) is just piling anxiety on your shoulders. Revel in your sobriety and give the finger to your eating (who is, perhaps, Mrs. Wolfie??).

    Joan B.

  2. primrosep February 11, 2014 at 5:19 pm #

    goodness, this is a tough one. It is difficult to balance the need to stop your weight making you sad (and thus more liable to drink) and taking your eye off the ball of staying sober by focusing on your weight issues. It is interesting that you say both that your relationship with food is the best it’s ever been, and that you can’t distinguish between hunger, emotional hunger, and wanting a sweet treat. Are you saying then that these are underlying issues which exist independently of your issues with alcohol? If so and you can be all male about it and keep them in nice tidy separate boxes in your head perhaps that would help? Also as a fellow runner I would say that my weight has gone up whilst my size has gone down or stayed the same. Your eyes are the least accurate possible judge of your true size. I recently lent a pair a friend of jeans which I was convinced would be hanging off her – in fact she could barely squeeze into them, which left me gob-smacked. My weight went gradually up during days 0 -60, then plateaued, and is now gradually edging down again as I crave sugar less. I’m talking a couple of pounds over four weeks, but it’s heading in the right direction. Lots of protein, lots of being kind to yourself. Our bodies knows what they need even if our fuddled minds don’t! xxx

  3. Chris H February 11, 2014 at 9:49 pm #

    Can I suggest you check out a couple of resources:

    Read some of Amber’s posts at GoKaleo, for example https://gokaleo.com/2014/01/08/what-is-a-healthy-weight/ or


    Also, check out the Facebook group Eating the Food




    • FitFatFood February 11, 2014 at 10:13 pm #

      Thanks so much Chris- these are great! Really appreciate you posting.

      • Chris H February 11, 2014 at 10:37 pm #

        Cool. Amber’s blog is great and full of sensible moderate advice.

        Keep blogging. And take it easy on yourself. I bet you look great.

      • FitFatFood February 13, 2014 at 9:26 am #

        Thank you.

        In true addictive style, I can’t stop reading Amber’s blog- I love it!

  4. Birdo February 12, 2014 at 8:22 am #

    What if you could come to the acceptance that you, or I, or anyone, cannot ‘control’ their shape entirely? We can tinker with some things but ultimately our bones have already decided what general shape we are going to be. Our organs, changing day by day, will take more or less out of us, and our brains will be busier and more energy demanding some days than others. And then the rest, yes, we can opt to shovel in chocolate or focus determinedly on not eating, but it will make a difference of 0.00001% physically (and about 10% in our heads). I say this as someone who has been anorexic, bulimic or orthorexic for 20 years, and I control food not to control my body but to control the world – and my notions that controlling food controls the world and keeps me safe are completely illogical – but the same applies to your body. And I say this also as someone completely failing, day after day, to change what I do. But I keep going, and more recently I keep being kind to myself with my struggles. I didn’t ask for this messy brain I have, the skewed way it sees things, but I have to keep recognising that for some reason it keeps doing this, and that the best I can do right now it be kind to my suffering and keep trying to listen to logic.
    When you got stuck in focusing on your body, perhaps bear in mind these few things:
    1) step away from the mirror / looking at yourself. When did anyone who looked in the mirror for longer than a few seconds feel better about themselves? The longer we look, the more ‘faults’ we see. The more things we pick at. Every inch becomes a mile. So step away!
    2) Your body is more about what it can do, not how it looks. Your body is doing some awesome things – enjoy it, because it won’t be able to do what it is doing now forever.
    3) Your body is also about how it feels. Notice the nice feelings you get from parts of your body, and pay attention to the lovely bits that get forgotten or neglected.
    4) Your body loves you more now than ever, now you are taking better care of it. Don’t make it pissed off at you again!
    Good luck 🙂

    • FitFatFood February 13, 2014 at 9:23 am #

      I love this so much, thank you thank you thank you. My body IS doing something awesome and I need to appreciate it more.

      I look at my old clothes and wish I was that size again, but then I remember I was miserable, hungry, emotional and knew that living the way I was living was unsustainable.

      Maybe I focus on self care and nourishment and see where my body gets to and that will be my new Sober Size, whatever that ends up being, which is a reflection who I am when I’m my best self.

      x x x x

      • Birdo February 13, 2014 at 2:13 pm #

        well done you, I really liked reading your post today (Happy & Sober) as it shows you that you can be good to yourself and it can genuinely feel good!
        Perhaps you could take photos of your old clothes, make an album and give them all captions of how you felt at the time you were wearing the clothes?
        I’ve had a day off today and I walked around Asda this morning (other supermarkets are available) with a bottle of Morgan’s Spiced Rum in my trolley. I got to the checkout and realised the one thing I had gone for (milk, ironically) I had forgotten. So I went off to find it and thought, from some mythical, God-like station, FitFatFood was giving me a chance to put the rum back. So I got my milk and the rum ended up in a cardboard tray of banana milk (sorry Asda). So if it was you, thank you – and if it wasn’t, well, I had a lucky break. It is one trial after another, but your blog gave me a reason to change my mind – so you’ve done something awesome, thanks 🙂

      • FitFatFood February 13, 2014 at 11:19 pm #

        Wow, how amazing to read. We all help each other so much in this blogging journey, sometimes without even realising it- your comment really brightens up my day. Well done for staying sober- so happy to read it 🙂

  5. lucy2610 February 12, 2014 at 7:33 pm #

    If you’re marathon training I’m tempted to say don’t worry about it until you’ve done the event. Food is energy right now and you don’t want to upset your training schedule by trying to tinker with your calories. Just my 2p’s worth 🙂

    • FitFatFood February 13, 2014 at 9:23 am #

      True Lucy- I need to focus on performance x x

  6. soberjournalist February 12, 2014 at 11:48 pm #

    Debbie at Dangling on the edge wrote an interesting post about dieting and the effect it had on her cravings and thoughts. I agree with you that the rules and restrictions of a diet might not be the best thing to try at the moment. What about focusing on training in a different way? Swap some of your training runs for other things like circuit classes or spinning? It might give your body a bit of a shock/change?

    • FitFatFood February 13, 2014 at 9:25 am #

      I saw Debbie’s post and can totally relate to that- I crave alcohol so much when I’m not eating properly or being overly restrictive.

      After this marathon is out of the way, I’m going to start doing some proper weight training- you’re absolutely right, my body does need a shock, and I’ve seen people have some really positive transformations switching from cardio to weights, both mentally and physically.

      • Chris H February 13, 2014 at 3:06 pm #

        Amber at https://gokaleo.com/ would say: Eat All the Food….Lift All the Things!

      • FitFatFood February 13, 2014 at 11:18 pm #

        Thanks for your support Chris- I saw the post amber made on the Facebook group and the response and kind words has been amazing x x x x x x x x

  7. 2bfabfit February 13, 2014 at 10:01 pm #

    So many thoughts went through my mind while reading this. All those thoughts were ones of identifying with the feelings you express about your relationship with your body and with food. Your body is an awesome machine and your value and worth are not limited, confined or defined by its size. You have made amazing progress just in acknowledging your issues and addressing them!!!

    • FitFatFood February 13, 2014 at 11:15 pm #

      “An awesome machine”, I love it!

  8. Brittany Glidden February 13, 2014 at 10:08 pm #

    I think the real issue is not her weight, but the constant inundation of what healthy is supposed to look like. It’s fighting against all the gross media messages carved into our brains from the moment we’re able to see our reflections.

    If you feel healthy and strong, odds are, you are..

    • FitFatFood February 13, 2014 at 11:14 pm #

      So true Brittany about the images changing how we feel- even though intellectually I know it’s ridiculous, I still really struggle with it emotionally.

      • Brittany Glidden February 13, 2014 at 11:24 pm #

        Yes ma’am. That is all it is. It’s large scale brainwashing.

  9. 2bfabfit February 13, 2014 at 10:09 pm #

    Several thoughts ran through my mind while reading this. Most of them were ones of affirmation and understanding of the struggles you are experiencing. From my heart I want you to know that you are not confined, defined or limited by the size of your body, your value and worth are not found in your weight. You have already accomplished so much in your journey to healing your relationship with food and your body. Keep focuses on your best health, not obsessive pursuit of some fantasy of perfection. Celebrate this version of you now, don’t wait for ‘someday’ or ‘when I reach this goal’. No, celebrate now!

    • FitFatFood February 13, 2014 at 11:13 pm #

      *shakes celebration pom poms* Seriously, so much wisdom here, thank you.

  10. Malinda February 13, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    This is a beautiful blog. Acknowledgement of our issues is a HUGE step to being a healthy person. You are an amazing athlete! Marathons are WOW accomplishments in my book. I agree with Chris H. Come hang out with us for a little while in the Eat the Food Group on Facebook. We are an amazing group who are supportive and learning to love our bodies for what they can do and give us. You are not alone in your struggle. Sending you much positive and loving energy!

    • FitFatFood February 13, 2014 at 11:12 pm #

      Thank you Malinda, I checked out the group and love it already! And thanks for reminding me marathon running is a pretty cool thing to be able to do 🙂

  11. MNGirl February 13, 2014 at 10:55 pm #

    The paradigm shift of appreciating one’s body for what it can do rather than how it looks is sooooo hard. (This coming from a girl who just had to buy new clothes for a warm weather vaca because my summer clothes are too small.). Your body is doing awesome things (Marathon training?!?!?!? You are spectacular!). Love it, nourish it and it will thank you. Eat the food and lift the things.

    • FitFatFood February 13, 2014 at 11:11 pm #

      Thank you MN Girl. If only our clothes changed shape in line with our bodies 😉 Thanks for stopping by and such a lovely comment x x x

  12. bellybuttonlint February 13, 2014 at 11:44 pm #

    My drinking and eating all wove together to create a wet blanket on my soul. It comforted me in the moment, but led to many consequences physically, mentally, and with my relationships. Then, I’d eat (binge) and drink more to hide the shame. I wish I had a light switch to turn on the love and release my emotional demons, but it truly takes time. Praise yourself for all of your victories each day. Nourish your body with sleep and food and self love. Run that marathon because you trained your ass off and because it’s AMAZING at any size. Big hugs to you xoxo

  13. Dionne February 14, 2014 at 1:36 am #

    I’m going to echo what others have already said: you run marathons? That is seriously badass. As far as why we focus so much on our external appearance, I think at least part of the answer is a toxic culture that places a HUGE emphasis on how women look. (Google self-objectification if you can want to just get spittin’ mad.)

    However, there is hope. Learning to view yourself with self-compassion is a skill, it can be practiced and learned. One thing that helps is to surround yourself with social media that celebrates diverse bodies and realistic ideas about what health really is. Related to that, welcome to Eating the Food, I think it’ll be a great fit for you.

    • FitFatFood February 14, 2014 at 1:18 pm #

      I love it when people share what they really eat, like REALLY eat. I love looking at real women’s blog who I admire.

      Thanks so much for the encouragement Dionne and hope to see you round these parts again 🙂

  14. onestepatatime February 14, 2014 at 10:19 am #

    I absolutely loved this blog! So glad I found it through Amber on her ETF Facebook page. You are so awesome and I felt like I was meeting my soul sister. I could have written this blog (although I only ran one 1/2 marathon). I enjoy weight training, boot camp, and kick boxing much more than running. I have a pretty good diet, except when I drink. Then I feel bad, I eat more and make very poor choices. That makes me feel even worse! I work out so hard (6 days a week) and I love it, but I do not like the extra “fat” that only I seem to see. I know alcohol is the reason but I struggle with giving it up completely. I have cut it down quite a bit, but I’m trying to recognize what emotional triggers are out there for me. I am definitely going to be following your blog. Best of luck to you in your training and with everything else too. You’re seriously badass and I hope that I can be more like you very soon!

    • FitFatFood February 14, 2014 at 1:17 pm #

      Oh this just chimes with me so much- I felt like I was consistently undoing my own hard work in the gym with alcohol!

      For me, alcohol got to the point where I’ve had to cut it out completely, but if you don’t think it’s that serious, your approach of recognising emotional triggers sounds spot on.

      Go you! *gets pom poms out*


  1. Weight Weight Weight | FitFatFood- Blogging to Stay Sober - February 14, 2014

    […] I wrote about my body image struggles the other day, I’ve felt so much better. I’ve been so focused on alcohol of late, I […]

  2. Why sober? | FitFatFood- Blogging to Stay Sober - March 23, 2014

    […] blogged before about my issues with weight, and eternally feeling fat even though I’m very athletic and reasonably slim. I was frustrated at not dropping weight […]

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