Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Challenge with Avoiding Fat Talk

Originally posted October 18, 2011

I know, two posts in a row. What is going on? I don't know either. The creative juices are flowing again or something. Anyway, I wanted to talk briefly about avoiding Fat Talk because, let's face it, it's not always as easy as we would like. Let's paint a picture:
You have decided to stop fat talking. You know that it creates negative energy in your life. It damages the way the children around you see themselves. You no longer want it. It's been two days and you are doing great. Then you go out for lunch with your girl friends. The menus come out and guess where the talk goes? Straight to calories, diets, and other talk concerning weight. Inevitably someone says something negative and the whole group joins in. What do you do? Do you join in? If you don't you're weird. You don't want to insult your friends, but you also want no part of this talk. How do you deal with this situation?
Well, I don' t have all the answers. In fact I have very few answers, but I do have a little life experience here. I thought since this week is the week to stop fat talk that it would be a good place to let you all in on a few techniques that have worked for me.
1. Avoid the subject at all costs. This is easier in small groups, but whenever possible I just steer the conversation away from anything having to do with body bashing and fat talk. If I think the conversation is heading in that direction I generally try to insert some comments on living a healthier lifestyle. Sometimes that means talking about yummy food that is healthy and amazing. Sometimes that means telling people why I don't engage in fat talk anymore. I find that many people are receptive to the idea of talking about better health, and if you are careful it can be a very loving conversation without the bashing.
2. Get your friends on board with you. This doesn't always work. It is important not to interrupt a body bashing session to preach about how good you are to never do it again. That just doesn't come off well in my experience. Rather, when the moment is correct I tell people about what I have researched and now believe. I try to be kind and loving to all view points. A large number of people I love are currently on a diet that I do not agree with. It's not something I would do, and I have expressed as much. But it has not stopped us from sharing. They are comfortable telling me about their diet, and I am comfortable telling them my feelings toward food and body image. It is all done out of love. We all approach health differently. Our choices concerning health are incredibly personal. They come through much experience, research, doctors' opinions, and other such life circumstances. Even if we think we are right we should be wary of telling others they are wrong. Share your opinions in love and leave it at that. Those you like what you say will join in. Others won't. Those who don't will generally respect your perspective in the future. Thus the fat talk can stop.
3. Change the subject. Have you ever picked up a friend and had her tell you how such and such makes her look fat? The natural response is to soothe her feelings by telling her that she looks great compared to you. Right? I know many of us have been there. Rather than putting yourself down to elevate your friend tell her she looks amazing and move on. If she persists in feeling down about whatever it is point out all of her great qualities making sure to include things that are both visible on the outside and those that aren't. She'll get the pick-me-up she needs, and you can keep your own integrity.
4. Don't participate or put a positive spin on it. There have been times where I have found that I have no power to change the subject, interject a contrary opinion, or otherwise influence the drift of the conversation. In those cases I generally just sit quietly until the conversation moves on to something I can get behind. It's not my favorite, but sometimes there is just no other way. If asked for an opinion I usually put in a little comment about how I feel that negative thoughts do not create positive change and then shut up again. It's my mini protest.
Now don't get me wrong, my record is certainly not 100% since I have started to avoid fat talk. There have been plenty of slip ups. There have been days I just didn't care and wanted to be negative. There have been days that I just wasn't really thinking and got sucked into the talk. It happens to all of us. But the key is to move on and forgive. When I realize I have been negative I notice how it makes me feel worse. Then I forgive myself for my weakness and commit to try harder in the future. Getting down on yourself is maybe the worst thing you can do in your quest to become Fat Talk Free. Take it one day at a time, and remember the key is to be loving to yourself and others.
What are other things that have worked for you? How do you avoid fat talk?