Have you ever stood in front of your closet and just felt fat? Me too. I am learning five ways that I can fight the feeling and make my closet — and my body — my friend.

One of the most everyday things in my life can be the very thing that causes me the most frustration — shopping for clothes or even selecting them out of my closet! Finding something to wear can take me on an emotional rollercoaster. Some clothes are flattering, some promise to be forgiving, and others are an ambush waiting in the closet to slash my self-esteem. The worst outfits are those that scream, “YOU ARE FAT!”

It’s often unpredictable when those mean thoughts strike. They sometimes start as a whispering accusation. You are so big. How did you let yourself get like this? And before I know it, they turn into you are going to be so huge, and there isn’t a thing you can do about it. Next, the thoughts escalate to a prophetic-like cursing, and about that time, my structured mind begins to come up with some strategic plans.

I start thinking that a new diet, a work-out plan, and even some techniques that I know full well shouldn’t even be thought of, are the solutions to my unhappiness. In the past, this disheartening thought process is something that I often allowed to hinder me. As I discovered how incredibly debilitating those thoughts were, I began to look for ways to rise above them. I realized that I was often trying to work my way out of the despair once I was deeply into it.

Sometimes, fat is just a feeling.

As I thought about it, I realized something interesting — on one particualar day, I didn't feel fat even when I had gained weight from the day before. Recognizing this told me there was somehting else that was bothering me. And if I could get to the root of the real problem, I knew I would feel better.

Changing your thinking is not an easy thing to do, but the time to conquer the fear of fat is when the very first thought strikes! Take a moment to deal with what you are feeling.

1. Admit that you are feeling fat.

Regardless of what you weigh, the despair you are feeling begins in your mind, and that is where you need to begin. Acknowledge how you are feeling, but don’t nurse those thoughts for very long. By admitting to yourself what you are feeling, you give yourself the chance to deal with it.

2. Ask yourself clarifying questions to discover what you are struggling with.

When we feel out of control or stressed, we often internalize it and begin to feel unattractive. Ask yourself, “What is really bothering me?” As you reflect on that, you will realize that your “fat feelings” are often internalized frustrations about something entirely different. Are there other sources of stress bothering you? Did someone say something hurtful? Ask yourself where you are in your monthly cycle. It could be that you are feeling low for a very good reason.

3. Take your thoughts captive.

You may have so many thoughts running through your mind that you no longer know what is true and right. You may even have thoughts that contradict each other. Take a piece of paper, draw a line down the middle and write “Truth” as the heading of one column and “Lies” as the heading on the other column. Then begin to write. In the Truth column, write out those things you know to be facts. What aspects of yourself are you most pleased with? Even if you are not the size you’d like to be, what is your best feature? What you weigh does not determine who you are. What do your friends say about you? Write it down.

Then, in the Lies column, write the things you sometimes believe to be true, like “I’m not worth it” (you are). As you write out the many points, you will be amazed at the contradicting messages that are in your mind. Each time you have a thought that you know to be negative, add it to your journal. Then begin to pray that you would learn to believe only the items in the Truth column. In the early days of using this method, you will probably do a lot of writing and sorting of your thoughts. Once you become used to labeling your thoughts as truth or lies and then taking your thoughts captive, you will be able to do this without paper. It can become a new way of thinking that can renew and strengthen your mind every day! There is huge freedom in this.

4. Move forward on what you know to be true—not what you feel.

There are times to ignore your feelings. If you are feeling afraid of being fat or possibly feel that you are fat and unacceptable because of that, do something that is the opposite of what you feel. Call a friend and do something meaningful for them. Instead of internalizing your feelings, the key here is to take a negative, self-destructive thought pattern and reach out to encourage someone else. Don’t engage in crash diets or binge eating because you think you are already too overweight. Make an effort to eat healthily and take care of your body; remember that you are worth it. Tip: Take a card and write on it “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14a). This is a verse from the Bible which has really helped me.

5. Make the effort.

On the days you feel particularly unattractive, wear something that you know you look good in. Take extra effort to do your hair and makeup in a special way. Remember that a huge part of how we feel about the way we look is in our heads and hearts, not our hips. Promise to be kind to yourself. There are many voices in our society telling us that we have to look a certain way to be acceptable. Make sure that your own voice isn’t one of them. You have extraordinary worth; no one in the world who is as beautiful in quite exactly the way that you are.

Have you ever felt like losing five pounds? I have... and it turned out to be the beginning of a 10-year diet which nearly killed me. I spent many years of my life agonizing over my weight, feeling like no one could love me because I was too overweight. I’m a recovered anorexic and have learned the secret of taking each thought captive. I enjoy the freedom I now experience in knowing true love isn’t earned by having a perfect body and a perfectly organized life. While I used to think that love equals thinness, I now know that true love and security come from a relationship with God.

You may need help to retrain your thinking, but it is possible – one thought at a time!

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This article was written by: Karen Schenk

Photo Credit: Lauren Rushing