How I Began to Love My Body, Part 2: Unraveling My Weight Issues

This is part two of four-part series on body image—how I hated my body for a long time, learned to love my body eventually, and how you can achieve a positive body image as well.

A Problem I Could Not Hide From

Pulling Skirt

Life presents itself with countless potential issues. Weight is simply one of the many issues one can face in life.

However, unlike most issues which can be stashed to the back of our minds, hidden from public view, and dealt with when we are ready to, weight can’t.

For weight has a very visual component to it. For every second which I was awake and not shrouded by darkness, I would be reminded of my hateable body, from my fat thighs, to my huge hips, to my fat face, to my slabs of fat. As I mentioned in part one, the mirror was one of my biggest enemies as it would reflect my non-thin, non-ideal body back at me.

Personally I didn’t care much about what others thought about my body nor me. My biggest issue was that I wasn’t able to conquer my weight loss goal despite my persisting efforts, hence leaving it as an unresolved intention in my mind. I felt like a failure; a loser.

The fact that I would be reminded of my failure every time I looked down at my body or looked into the mirror didn’t help. My weight was a problem I could not escape from no matter how hard I tried.

Attempts to relieve my pain through binge eating only worsened the situation, for overeating would only result in excess calorie consumption which would in turn result in extra weight being packed onto my body. This would make me hate my body even more, which would result in more binge eating, hence perpetuating the situation. It was the epitome of a catch-22 situation—a problem in which the factors leading to its occurrence are the very reasons why the problem is not resolvable.

Being Caught in the Cycle of Weight Loss and Weight Regain

Clearly, something was wrong.

Why would I keep facing difficulty in losing weight, or rather, in sustaining my lower weight? It is not as if losing weight is some profound problem like cancer or AIDs; it is simply a matter of eating lesser and working out more. Theoretically I understood this; logically I comprehended it; physically I had even achieved the goal numerous times. So why did I keep losing and regaining weight I had lost?

This was a question, a problem, which I would keep hacking at over time. From addressing my emotional eating problems, to employing my best goal-achievement strategies, to working on my self-discipline, to educating myself on weight loss strategies and healthy living tips, to experimenting on different diets including fasting, I kept addressing the barriers that were preventing me from achieving a lower weight for good.

Each time I resolved one barrier, I would be successful in losing the weight… initially. I would then face a new blockade in the goal where I would gradually regain the weight after a while. It seemed that there was a deeper factor driving my weight regain… a deeper factor which I was unable to pinpoint at that point.

Arriving at the Root of the Problem

After years of barrier resolution and issue-processing, there came a point a few months ago where I had cleared all the barriers I knew were blocking me from sustaining my weight loss.

And yet, I still continued to face the problem of being unable to sustain my weight losses. I continued to overeat, though this time consciously rather than unconsciously. Unconscious overeating would be akin to the eating sessions I had when I was still suffering from emotional eatingwhich I have since overcome—where I would overeat in an uncontrollable manner, only to regret after the binges. Conscious overeating would be akin to me overeating with full awareness of the folly of my actions but still doing it anyway.

I was absolutely baffled. Perhaps my body was haunted. Perhaps this (being fat, not being thin) was my path in life and there was no way I was ever going to escape from this issue in this lifetime. Perhaps the only way I was ever going to be thin was if I was reborn. Perhaps this was my fate, my destiny, and this was what I had to live with for as long as I was alive in this lifetime.

Imagine my exasperation one fine night when I reached out for food again—large quantities of food, and the worst possible kinds of food such as junk food—after already having my dinner. I should rightfully be full and in a way I was indeed filled, but yet I still reached out for food, junk food, like a soul possessed.

As I ate away in sorrow and pain, I knew there was no way this eating episode would go down but in hell as I thought about the countless overeating sessions I had before and how they ended—with me feeling intense guilt and anger at myself. In fact, as I bit into the food, I could already feel deep regret. I wished that I could stop right there and then.

In between my bites, I began to mentally talk to myself:

  • Myself: Celes, why? Why am I eating… yet again?
    • Inner self: Because you want to.
  • Myself: But why? I just had dinner. I just ate something. By right I shouldn’t be hungry. So why am I eating again?
    • Inner self: Because you are using food to feed yourself.
  • Myself: But we’ve been through this before. I have already overcome my emotional eating. I have unchained my emotions from food and eating since a year ago. I know that; I can feel it. By right, I should not be under the influence of emotional eating anymore. Why am I still overeating?

Girl hugging her body

…The Secret Desire To Be Fat

No wonder I could never lose the weight. No wonder I would regain the weight every time I lost some weight, including the various times when I achieved my ideal weight (such as during my 21-day fast, or in 2008 after I embarked on a year-long healthy eating regime).

It was because I secretly wanted myself to be fat.

What worse reason could you ever get for not being able to achieve a goal, other than a self-sabotaging one? To have your subconsciousness go against you in your personal wish, then openly betray you by counteracting all your very actions to realize that wish in your life—this was the most heartbreaking thing I could ever experience.

As I heard those words “Because you secretly want to be far” echo throughout the walls of my mind, and as the message of those words sank into my heart, I could not help but weep in the quiet space of my room—silently, and softly.

Unraveling the Reasons Behind My Desire to be Fat

While I was upset by the revelation of my self-sabotaging intent, I knew that it was fruitless to hate on myself for it.

By hating myself for this self-sabotaging intent… I would only be worsening the situation. No matter how ridiculous it might have seemed, I was sure that my inner self had a genuine reason—a genuine, well-intended reason—for harboring the intent to be fat. I knew that I was not born to suffer, and my inner self have always had nothing but the best intents for me in my life. If it was wishing for me to become fat… I was sure that it had valid reasons for wishing so.

It was thus my job to discover the root cause behind this seemingly outrageous desire.

So I opened a dialogue with my inner self, asking the central question of “Why do I want to be fat?” Low and behold, I uncovered the following answers:

Firstly, a Fear of Being with Others

“Because you are afraid of being with others.”

I realized that one of the reasons driving my secret desire to be fat was that I was trying to keep all my romantic prospects at bay.

I realized that I was absolutely petrified to be with other people; I probably had been since young but just never had the chance to explore this fear. Being “fat” (or rather, not being thin, since I was never truly overweight) meant that I would (theoretically) repel guys away, since fatness is largely seen as being unattractive in today’s world. This would mean that guys would naturally not like me and not try to pursue me.

I’m not sure how well it worked for I still had guys who would express interest in me from time to time and semi-often pick up encounters, but I’m sure that the number of guys interested would have been more if I was model skinny, had sharp angular features, and was always dressed up. I was never the former two (save for after my 21-day fast) and only at times dressed up.

My “fatness” was thus my “shield” to protect myself from guys out there. By being “fat”, I would not have to deal with unwanted male attention, and I would not deal with the potential pain and hurt that would come from being in a relationship. My “fat” was my solace, my comfort, and my grace from having to deal with my innermost fears.

Secondly, Anger at Myself for Constantly Berating My Own Body

“…Because you don’t deserve to be thin.”

On another level, my subconscious self was absolutely angry at myself for constantly berating my body. Rather than appreciate my body for all that it had done for me throughout my life, all I had been doing over and over again was berate it for not matching my idealized body image.

The funny thing was that had been the very reason why my body did not conform to that mental image all this while, for had been the one overeating and causing my ensuing weight gain. My body was merely reacting to my actions, and my larger body weight, largely the result of my overeating habits.

As such, my subconscious self became absolutely peeved at myself for my ridiculous, self-contradicting behavior. It felt that I did not deserve to be thin, since I had obviously never been appreciative of what my body had done for me all these years. Hence, to “punish” myself, it harbored the intent for me to be fat, such that I could suffer and never be truly as thin as I would want to be.

Lastly… A Deep Level of Self-Hate

“Because… you hate yourself.”

Last but not least, I realized that I hated myself. I really hated myself a lot.

From constantly pressurizing myself to do things that I didn’t want, to putting my life on hold for other people, to doing things at the expense of things I believed in, my subconscious self was angry at how I had been living my life all this while. I had never been fully conscious of this anger though; it had only been brewing underneath the surface, deep in the recesses of my soul.

So what better way was there to make my life miserable and a pain to live in, than to sabotage the very personal goal I had yet to realize—to be thin? In fact, the fatter I was, the more miserable I would be. It was the perfect way to kill myself spiritually

This hatred for myself thus branched into the secret desire to be fat. The more I abused myself through the “reckless” way I led my life, the angrier my subconsciousness would get at myself, the stronger my secret desire to be fat. This would then fuel my surface-level behavior, where I would do anything from eating a lot, to eating poor quality food, to procrastinating on my exercises, just so that I would speed up the “fattening” process.

Moving into Resolution

Uncovering these three main reasons driving my secret desire to be fat was extremely revealing. This would be the start to my recovery of my negative body image and my natural resolution of my excess body weight issue, which I share in Part 3: Overcoming My Negative Body Image.

This is part two of a four-part series on body image—how I hated my body for a long time, learned to love my body eventually, and how you can achieve a positive body image as well.

Images: SkirtGirl

  • Mollie

    I’ve been between a US size 10 and 12 as long as I can remember and I have hated my body, too. I’ve never wanted to drop too much weight, maybe get to a size 8 or so – it doesn’t SEEM like a lot to ask, but has been impossible to achieve! I’ve been able to maintain my weight and not gain more, but I continuously fail to lose any. I’ve spent a lot of time hating myself and hating my body, feeling like a failure and then just hating myself all the more.
    I am married, and my husband thinks I am beautiful just the way I am. I know that he would like me to be fitter for health reasons and he wants me to be happy with myself. But, aside from the fact that he married more than my clothing size, he fell in love with and married a size 12 and is perfectly content waking up every morning and seeing that size 12. Often he tells me that I am beautiful – and my mind has in the past somehow decided that he lied! And no matter how ridiculous that assumption is logically, my heart goes on and believes it!
    And now, even after I have come to love myself more, I still find it difficult to lose weight. I never thought that it could be partially due to my subconscious, inner-self being angry at me for not appreciating the blessing that my body truly has been for me… :/
    It’s a tough pill to swallow, but it really opens my mind to a whole new avenue of things to consider. I think that I will need to sit down with myself and work through some more things – dig deep!
    Thank you for posting this, Celes. I look forward to the rest of this series.

  • Bob

    Hi Celes,

    Re “…my subconscious self was angry at how I had been living my life all this while” – I can really relate to this, because not feeling 100% in my body gives me excuses/leeway for other areas of my life. I’m thinking and reviewing how I look at myself now. As you say quite rightly we all set our own limits and our body is a constant visible reminder of how in control we are or not.

    • Celes

      Hey Bob, you are totally right. Our body is definitely a constant visible reminder of how we are doing in our life. One can be incredibly wealthy and “successful” in conventional terms but be heavily overweight, and it becomes pretty clear that the person’s psyche is out of sync. I believe a truly aligned person is one who is doing well in heart/body/mind/soul, so no matter how wealthy or accomplished one is, if one’s body isn’t of optimal shape/size (e.g., severely overweight, disease laden, etc.), it shows that the person is not truly living a full life.

      • Bob

        Spot on Celes :)

  • Violetz

    Thanks for sharing Celes. You have shown me insights which I have not thought applicable or relevant previously. The inner dialogue that we carry out is very powerful with the amazing coverted results we will discover, realizations we have never known before.

    Most of the time I over-eat was because there was a void that I needed to fill, when I have nothing to do and needed to do something and hence, reaching out for junk food eventhough I was not hungry. I refrained myself from buying these foods so that the urge to snack would be minimized, but it only works as short term resolution. Internally, I knew I had to fill my time with more meaningful works so that my focus to food would be diverted (I have tried and it worked).

    I do also agree that our self-worth affects us internally and externally as well. However, this is just one of our limiting beliefs that we have to work on as I have seen ladies of much bigger size enjoying great relationships, because they portray self confidence. Self-sabotaging our diet is a way of non-love towards ourselves. Then again, the more I focus on my weight, the harder it is to lose them. The next best thing I could do is to divert my focus.

    The pros of being ‘lighter’ instead of ‘thinner’ appeals to me more than anything else. I would say the emotional aspect plays a great part when I lost weight. I feel lighter, less grumpy, less breatheless, slimmer and of course, more confidence in myself.

    • Celes

      Hey Violetz, I hear you that being “lighter” definitely lends itself to a lot of emotional benefits.

      I feel it myself as I’m losing the weight. At the same time, I’ve found that the instrumentality of it all is addressing my emotional baggage, after which the physical self will shape itself accordingly to fit with my inner self. My past attempts at weight loss have all failed because I kept working on the issue from outside in (trying to lose weight through hard methods such as curbing my eating, hard exercising, etc.) rather than the internal reasons (e.g., understanding & addressing what was driving my erratic eating, learning why I was eating junk despite not wanting to do so). By working on the problem from inside out, I’ve now created a permanent change, rather than continue in the loop of weight loss and weight regain like in the past.

  • Lina

    I definitely didn’t expect that! At first, after reading “I secretly wanted to be fat”, I thought “But that’s silly, who wants to be fat?…”. So I continued with the 3 reasons you listed and, at some level, they do strike a chord, but I’m just so surprised to read that, lol. It’s like a huge slap in the face for I have never thought about it as being one’s desire to be fat just in order to feel shielded.

    I can totally relate to this: “Attempts to relieve my pain through binge eating only worsened the situation, for overeating would only result in excess calorie consumption which would in turn result in extra weight being packed onto my body. This would make me hate my body even more, which would result in more binge eating, hence perpetuating the situation.” And there’s another paragraph which sounds painfully familiar “As I ate away in sorrow and pain, I knew there was no way this eating episode would go down but in hell as I thought about the countless overeating sessions I had before and how they ended—with me feeling intense guilt and anger at myself. In fact, as I bit into the food, I could already feel deep regret. I wished that I could stop right there and then.”

    I’ve been overeating and binge eating for years, and although logically I knew I should stop, I knew I could stop because “hey, I’m the one stuffing food in my mouth although I’m not hungry so I’m guilty of making myself unhappy”, I didn’t do it. I just kept eating. Now I haven’t binged for 1 month after I started keeping a journal, but I still struggle with overeating.

    • Celes

      Hey Lina! The funny thing is that pretty much everything we *aren’t* getting in our life can be summed up to an internal self-conflicting dialogue. Most people will probably go kittywampus and jump on what I’m about to say next, but I’ll say it anyway – it includes how people remain single despite saying they want to be with someone (because they don’t think they deserve someone), how people remain poor despite saying they want riches (because they secretly do not want to be rich or deal with riches or think they don’t deserve money), and so on.

      I think resonance with this dialogue takes a certain conscious level, so I’m glad that you feel that the reasons strike a chord at some level. At the same time those 3 reasons (driving the secret desire to be fat) pertain directly to me and may not be fully relevant to everyone else. The first 3 parts of this series are more of sharing of how *I* overcame my body image issue, while the second half of this series will share tips/steps which will apply for everyone at large. (As with the general pattern of all my series.) I’m glad you are finding the first two parts of the series helpful in some way and hope you will stay tuned for the subsequent parts. :)

    • Bob

      Hi Lina,

      Re. “Now I haven’t binged for 1 month after I started keeping a journal, but I still struggle with overeating.” I find that keeping a record of what we do helps enormously.

      Something that might help Lina. Divide an A4 sheet up as follows – put a header column for each category (going from left to right) days of the week, breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, weight, comments, then 7 rows for each day of the week (going down the left hand side). At the end or during the day make a list of everything you’ve eaten and a comment. To lose a kilo a month, eat 35g less per day, or for men to gain a kilo a month eat 35g more per day. If we live to be 75 years old and eat 3meals a day we will have eaten 82,125meals.

      • Lina

        It helps, indeed.

        While I’m thankful for you taking the time to write that, I have to say that I’m trying to move away from “plans” and tables as to how to lose weight. I’ve had a pretty bad relationship with food, exercising and my own body for years, so now I’m trying to distance myself from the weight loss mentality and hopefully heal myself a.k.a. remove the obsession with weight and how I’m not feminine enough.

        Not thinking about losing weight and not counting calories or grams of nutrients etc. has proved helpful for me when it comes to feeling more comfortable around food (especially when eating out with friends).

        • Celes

          Hi Bob and Lina, I have to agree with Lina on this one. Charting and tables help for those who lack the theory and knowledge behind weight loss. This usually applies to those who have never tried to lose weight before and need some regimentation and structure to approach their weight loss goals.

          However, once one has trekked down their weight loss journey and find that they are still unable to lose weight despite their regimenting/tracking (pretty much most of the people who are still stuck with weight loss goals despite years of trying), it’s usually because of deep psychological issues, some of which I have highlighted in my emotional eating series and this body image series so far. It doesn’t matter if one reads some one hundred weight loss books or has five trainers working with him/her to lose weight; the deep psychological issues will always prevail to cause the person to regain his/her weight in the end, after these external forces are removed. (This was what I was alluding to when I said I kept regaining the weight no matter how many times I lost the weight; it wasn’t that I didn’t know “how” to lose weight; the psychological factors just kept causing the weight to return, like a body possessed.) Uncovering and addressing these issues are the key to sustainable, effortless weight loss, which I’ll be sharing more in the next few parts of the series.

          • Lina

            “…it wasn’t that I didn’t know “how” to lose weight; the psychological factors just kept causing the weight to return, like a body possessed.”

            Indeed. Exactly my experience and feelings when it comes to this.

          • Bob

            I agree Celes & Lina, I sent my reply before refreshing the page. Look forward to reading more in series!

        • Bob

          You are closer than you think Lina. Just by writing about your over/binge eating will help, because it is out of your head – just like brain dumping. Sort out what is valuable and what is not. Exploring your feelings and persistently ask yourself WHY? Then you will arrive at a greater understanding which will help you to master the situation. It will probably take some time, observe, persevere, analyse – as soon as you determine that you want to conquer this, you will.

  • Erial

    Hi Celes,
    WOW! What an inspiring and thought-provoking article about body image and weight loss. I never considered that some of us do in fact want to be fat and I do not understand why, but yet again, the statement sits well with most of us.

    Before I married my husband, we had an ultimate goal: too look and feel amazing on our wedding. I can remember the pain of workouts and the nagging of one-self to eat perfectly everyday for 2 years straight. I hated every moment of it :/

    Looking back now, I know what I must do get my body back and how to do it. But… I do struggle with my weight and the comfortably of it. Thinking deeper, Celes, I do secretly want to be fat because it hides all the other demons and emotional baggage. In saying so, I’ve come a long way from a size 16 (AUS) to a size 12 (AUS).

    Overall, I have used determination to push through but I still emotionally eat occasionally and I think I may need to dig even deeper to find the real reason why I sabotage my body.

    I can mention a few:
    a) I believe I am maybe not beautiful or attractive in the face esp
    b) I believe rejection sexually has limited me in someway – from past experience when I was in public school
    c) I believe I have a gorgeous body – one I seem not to look after :/
    d) I was told some things about my body that are wrong with me and I am carrying that baggage. I am changing those things now like getting bracers and augmentation – from being overweight in the past during high school. I defo want a better smile!
    e) Emotional eating helps me through the pain when I start thinking negatively – doesn’t always happen, may happen once every 2-8 months
    f) I feel as though when people stare or are looking at me, I think they are comparing or I want to look amazing for them – perhaps acceptance..? Maybe appearance means something to me…!

    I think that’s all of them really… :)

    FYI – I’ve been working out since Aug ’12′ and love it. I love being active and eating healthy except on the weekends. I never missed a beat until my sports injury in the last 8 weeks :/ Getting better everyday and now I can run 5km with a smile.

    What do you think Celes, any advice?

    I hope this reaches you and you are smiling.
    xx E

    • Celes

      Hey Erial! I think it’s great that you have gone down from a size 16 to a size 12. That’s really awesome.

      Emotional eating can be the result of multiple factors, and the factors you have nailed down are probably true for you. I’ll recommend you or anyone interested to overcome emotional eating for good to grab the How To Stop Stress Eating Program if you haven’t — it contains the complete system I used to overcome my emotional eating, wrapped up in a four-week program. I always see our “excess” weight as a representation of the baggage we are holding in our consciousness, so the more baggage one clears off, the more “excess” weight gets eliminated. At the end of the day, the complete removal of one’s baggage will result in the natural shedding of all of one’s “excess” weight, symbolizing an equalization of one’s spiritual and physical self.

  • Migs

    Unfortunately weight loss and exercise require a massive change in lifestyle (apart from the genetic component – which may be insurmountable). Most people are unable to make these lifestyle changes happen for more than a few weeks at best. So, In my opinion, weigh loss and exercise are “exercises in futility. I say these things out of personal experience. The secondary aspect is the onset of depression and loss of self esteem when neither of these goals is reached.

  • Daniel Pelzl

    It is difficult to feel accepted by others if we do not accept ourselves. It has not been mentioned how poorly we value physical work. Few good jobs require significant physical effort. Why is it so difficult to balance mental and physical work in our lives? Talking and writing well propels one into the world of the economically comfortable. Gardening has the closest balance. Few consider it to be a serious road to wealth. Building homes could be if we chose to do it differently. Your exploration of these issues is inspiring. Thank you.

    • Celes

      You’re very welcome Daniel. Thank you for your kind words. :)

  • Susan

    I can relate to this struggle. Right now I am trying to move to the next level of consciousness to find a better solution. By contemplating the concepts in Power vs Force by David Hawkins, I have concluded that, for me, using force to lose weight does not work. Forced exercise and forced starvation are not sustainable. I am now meditating on the use of power instead of force. Power draws on inspiration rather than motivation, which is at a lower consciousness level. I am inspired to attain my goal by my love of a healthy body and a healthy lifestyle. Inspiration based on love is stustainable, and I believe this will be the answer for me.

  • max

    love this article! so much insights… truly inspiring! i am happy that this blog exists! you are a wise person, would love to know more people like you in personal life! :)

  • Sayaka

    I just wanted to say, that this post really hit me hard. (In a very good way.)
    The part when you said, maybe I want to be fat…It really made me realize something about myself. I have been struggling with emotional/ binge eating since 2009, and like you I have been up and down so much with my weight. I too felt that I will never be thin. I will always be fat. (I would like to add that I unfortunately ended up being overweight, and at one point obese due to the frequent and long periods of binge eating.)

    There is so much I want to say, and I really suck at writing and I prefer to talk it out loud….but please believe me when I say this. I have been through many counselings for this emotional eating, but what you said here in this post really made me understand myself more. Thank you so much. My eyes were tearing up as I was reading this article. I felt like something was lifted from me…I felt free.

    Obviously, to break the binge eating habit is going to be very very hard. I am currently on a water fast by the way. I was inspired by your 21 day water fast. I am learning to love my body. And yes I would like to lose weight, I am trying to tell myself that its not because I hate my body, its because I want to take care of my body and be more healthier. And of course I am not going to lie, I want to look good. I am new to all this self care and having a better personal view of myself and others, but I really want to learn. I want to learn because I know I will live a more happier and exciting life if all these negative thoughts, my social anxiety, my need to look good for so and so, and my need to compare to others just to end up bringing my self esteem even lower, would just disappear.

    I know no one is perfect. But I believe that as long as I am content with myself and I feel loved and I feel happy and I enjoy giving happiness to others, my self esteem would gradually return to normal. I want it to be normal. I don’t want to set high expectations for myself, because I am not really good with that, but I want to challenge myself.

    Most importantly I want to love myself for who I am as a person, and be able to share that with the rest of the world. My family, people I encounter in the future, my friends, etc. I want them to see me as the real Sayaka. Not the Sayaka that tries to mold herself into someone else. I think they already seen enough of that, and I for sure, am tired of pretending to be someone other than myself. I am fed up with feeling like I rather be someone other than me. Because I do have a personality. I am worth it. I dont have to be perfect. I know that deep down inside me somewhere, a bright light of HOPE shines.

    Thank you so much for taking your time to read my post. I am already loving your blog. Thank you so much, words cannot explain how much relief and appreciation I feel right now. I just want to give you a BIG virtual hug!


More in Self-Awareness
How I Began to Love My Body, Part 1: My Deep Hatred for My Body

This is part one of a four-part series on body image—how I hated my body for a long time, learned to love my body eventually, and...