“Ugh I’m so fat!”
We’ve all had this thought before, probably more times than we would like to admit. And while we are absolutely convinced that last night’s extra helping of desert has added 10 pounds to our frame overnight, chances are that isn’t the case. So when our friends tell us to chill out because we look just fine, why is it so hard to follow their advice and let go of the negative self image we have in our head?
Turns out, that’s precisely the reason: It’s all in our head. Really! Researchers at the University College London say feeling skinny or fat is just an illusion constructed in our posterior parietal cortex – that’s the part of our brain that integrates sensory information from the various parts of the body. Since we don’t have any specialized receptors that send information about the size and shape of our body parts, lead study authors Henrik Ehrsson, MD, PhD says “the brain appears to create a map of the body by integrating signals from the relevant body parts such as skin, joints and muscles, along with visual cues.”
What does that mean for us? If we spend the whole day sending the wrong cues to our brain, it’s going to give us a misrepresentation of our body, and that’s what we’ll believe.
But how exactly can you rid yourself of that feeling-fat thought once it’s in there? Prevention magazine provides some tips that will help you look fab, so you can feel fab. Here are our favorite ways to beat the self-defeating thoughts.
Sport some red
Whether it’s on a dress, your lips or on your nails, the color red instantly makes you feel bold and in command. Fashion editor and style expert Jacqui Stafford says “Wearing a rich, deep color like red gets you noticed and shows that you’re a risk taker.”
Additionally, the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that guys like a lady sporting the bold hue –and we all know getting some attention from the fellas boosts our confidence like few other things can.
Put on a belt
Belts aren’t the first thing we reach for when we’re feeling pudgy and big, but it turns out wearing one can help you feel better about yourself. Remember all that talk about sensory information? Well the author of Women, Food, and God, Geneen Roth says “Wearing a belt is a simple, concrete way of physically defining yourself. It allows you to circumscribe your body, to touch its boundary line.” This method of physically reminding yourself of your body shape will send the right kinds of messages to your brain.
Say bye-bye to the bloat
Sometimes your pants feel tighter because you are bloated. The artificial sweetener in your morning coffee or the gum you chew afterwards might be to blame, as they are known to bring on the bloat. Other culprits: rich and fatty foods. Ditch all those and head for the water cooler instead. Drinking more of the good stuff helps to prevent and reduce bloating.
Accessories, accessories, accessories
We all know accessories make the outfit. They also make a great weapon against feeling down about ourselves. Accessories are fat proof and will always look the same, regardless of how you feel on any given day. So grab a pair of great shoes, some knockout earrings or even a bold eye-shadow to detract attention away from your figure and on to the parts of your body you do appreciate.
Put on pumps
Speaking of great shoes, a pair of pumps can help you in your fight against feeling fat. By putting on some nude-colored pumps, you will instantly lengthen your stems – just make sure the color matches your skin tone. Also, wear a pair with three-inch heels or higher and get an even better slimming effect.
Get some zen
Wanna know why yogis never seem to feel down about themselves? Tons of research has linked mindfulness meditation and yoga to positive mood changes. Long-term meditators have been shown to have more gray matter density in their brain stem, which can lead to better self control and emotion regulation according to Stanford University’s health psychologist Kelly McGonigal, PhD.
Fake it till you make it
If nothing else works, just fake it.
“If you walk into a room feeling fabulous, then everyone else will think you are,” Stafford says. No one else needs to know you feel bad about yourself — that means keep the “I’m so fat” comments to yourself. Research backs this advice by showing that even those who aren’t the most qualified are likely to get ahead on the job simply by appearing confident.
Stafford’s advice: “You don’t have to be the prettiest or the skinniest. When you walk in like you own the room, you will.”
Main Image: Gettyimages.com