4 Tips to Stop the Fat Talk for Good

By , Molly Galbraith
Fat talk.  We've all done it.  We have all looked in the mirror at one time or another and said negative things about our physical appearance. 

In fact, we probably do it so often that we don't even notice it anymore.

We pinch our bellies and grumble about our thighs rubbing together and look at the dimples on the backs of our legs in disgust for years. We say it in our heads, we share it with our girlfriends, and even when our partners complement our bodies, we argue with their assessment. We do it so often that it seems totally normal. 

But it's not. 

We aren't made to be filled with self-hatred, self-loathing and negative self-talk; yet somehow it has become completely acceptable to be our own worst enemy.
So how can you stop this kind of talk?  How can we go from bashing our bodies on a regular basis to thinking more positively and replacing those negative thoughts with loving ones? Start with these four strategies.
1. Recognize that you and your body are completely unique. 
You were born with a completely unique genetic makeup and predispositions to certain physical attributes. You can influence some physical characteristics with your lifestyle, but some things simply can't be changed. 

But you know what's really cool?  You hit the genetic lottery.  Yep, it's true.  Every single one of us hit the genetic lottery in something. Maybe you have gorgeous hair, or a stunning smile, or a killer wit.  So what if you don't have six-pack abs or "perfect" legs?  I can guarantee you have some pretty special qualities.

Maybe it's harder for you to lose fat or gain muscle than your best friend or your co-worker, and that can be frustrating.  But maybe they are coveting your awesome squat form or your ability to run 20 sets of bleachers without breaking a sweat.

Action step: Find your own sweet spot where your health, lifestyle, performance and aesthetics intersect. It might not look like anyone else's—and that's just how it should be.
2. Set goals that aren't about losing weight.
For most people, losing body fat is their number one goal related to their health, fitness or appearance.  If you have excess fat to lose, that's a great goal to have.  However, somewhere along your fat-loss journey you will hit an inevitable and frustrating plateau during which your weight loss stalls or stops completely.  This plateau may last a few weeks, or it may last significantly longer than that. 

The problem?  When your goal is body fat loss, and you're struggling (and sometimes failing) to achieve it, it encourages negative thinking and fat talk.  You're constantly focused on what you don't like about your body and how it's not changing.  You'll start to think that you're not dedicated enough, not good enough, or not working hard enough. 
Setting goals that aren't directly related to fat loss can be much more positive and encouraging (and psst: they often lead to fat loss indirectly!).  Plus, it's good to focus on something other than weight, especially if you tend to obsess or get down about what the scale says.

Action step: Choose one short-term goal (2-3 months away) and one long-term goal (6-12 months away) that aren't about weight, and commit to them fully.  When you've achieved them, acknowledge that you've achieved them and allow yourself to feel very proud.

3. Stop and ask yourself, "Would I say that to someone I love?"
You've probably heard the saying, "We are our own worst critics," and it's so true.  We say things to ourselves that we would never ever say to someone we love. 

We tell ourselves that we are fat, disgusting, gross, worthless, and hopeless.  We tell ourselves that we will never achieve our goals, that we quit everything we start, that we aren't worthy of being happy or loved.

It rarely sounds crazy or mean in our own heads, but when we see it in writing, it's easier to understand just how harmful that self-talk can be. With that kind of feedback, how could anyone succeed?

Action step: Start becoming more aware of your thoughts and internal monologue. Next time you catch yourself saying something negative to yourself, ask: Would you say that to your mother? Your sister? Your best friend? Your daughter?  If the answer is no, then do not say it to yourself.

Develop a positive mantra that you can repeat to yourself until the negative thoughts are replaced with positive thoughts.  Something as simple as, "I am beautiful and worthy," works perfectly.
4. Recognize that your thoughts and words impact everyone around you.
It's very easy to forget how much we affect the people around us. This is especially true with impressionable young children (especially girls). Some research shows that girls as young as five years old already have body dissatisfaction and express a desire to be thinner.

Where do they get these ideas? Sure, there are societal and media influences even at that age, but most often, they hear others (including their moms, sisters, grandmothers, aunts, etc.) talk negatively about their own bodies. Those flippant comments you make about your thighs, the way you react after stepping on the scale, and even your physical discomfort and shameful body language when wearing a bathing suit—kids pick up on all of this.

So how do we recognize and turn around a lifetime of self-destructive behavior? 

Action step: STOP immediately any time you notice negativity floating through your head or coming out of your mouth.  If you catch yourself saying something negative in front of a child, talk about it. Point out that it's not nice to say negative things about anyone including ourselves. Explain that we should be kind to ourselves just like we try to be to others.

Remember, you are beautiful and worthy right this moment.  Not 10 pounds from now.  Not two sizes from now.  Not two months of calorie-counting from now. Right now.  It's time you recognize this, and treat yourself like the amazing person you are. You deserve it.

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DIVAGLOW 5/26/2021
Thank you. Report
JUDY1676 2/24/2021
thanks Report
ROBINRS 12/4/2020
when one of my students says something negative about someone I have them state three good things about the person with an apology. I should probably start doing that with my own self talk. Report
OLDSKOOL556 12/4/2020
Morning! Thanks for sharing your article 👍 Report
CECTARR 12/4/2020
Thanks Report
MAREE1953 12/4/2020
So important! "Strong legs that carry me hiking and running" instead of "thunder thighs" Report
Thank you Report
SUNSET09 11/30/2020
Sometimes, we can be our owe worst enemy, SparkFriends. Embrace your beauty Report
JIACOLO 8/15/2020
Good reminders about self-care Report
Great advice Report
I would only ammend one positive statement: Linking beauty to worthiness doesn't always work when the face we look at has nothing beautiful about it at all. The thing is, whatever we look at, we can do things to make us appear more attractive, more appealing, or whatever, but the word "beauty" has too many immediate responses to be a good word. "Worthy" is a fantastic word, because even if we have a face covered with scar tissue or some malformation, "worthy" still works... it indicated character and worth. I have tried positive statements many times, and unless there's some intrinsic thing in the words that I can believe, it doesn't work. Report
This is encouraging. I sometimes explore my feelings about body image in artwork, allowing the positive and negative feelings come forth without judging. I like the idea of also developing affirmations when the negative thoughts come in. Thank you. Report
Thanks Report
Great advice. I have to work on this continuously! Report
not bad advice. following thru might be the problem Report
Good info, thanks. Report
Great info. Thanks Report
Great info. Thanks Report
Good need-to-know information! Thanks! Report
thanks. Report
Thanks! Report
For decades I struggled to love myself. In fact it was only last year through SP and SP members posts that I realized how badly so and became determined to change. It wasn’t easy and I never knew where to start but the tips here were and are invaluable. I’ve been doing them daily for months and only recently have realized how it has slowly changed me for the better. Everyday I fall in love with myself again and again. Great article, thank you! Report
Thanks for the info! Report
Appreciate the info, thank you Report
Thanks for these great reminders! Report
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It was important for me to read this article today. Report
Very good information, thanks for sharing. Report
Very good onfprmation thanks for sharing.
This was an article I REALLY needed to read!! I am terrible about trash talking about myself even after having lost 115 pounds! I should be proud but all I see is skin hanging and wrinkles forming where fat used to be. I am going to print this article and read it daily until I can be more positive. Report
GREAT Report
Even the most stunning women are critical of themselves. It's a waste of mental energy for all of us. Report
Thanks for the info Report
Great tips! Thank you! Report
These are great tips Report
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Good article Report
Good info. Report
This is the only body I have. I can not trade it in for a slimmer model but I can work at making it slimmer and healthier. Thank you. Report
Thank you Report
Thank you.... Report
Number 4, remember your comments affect others, just jumped out at me. I have a 3 year old grand daughter who is around alot, and I'll make sure that she hears good comments about my body, and her mothers, even though we're both working at becoming healthier. thanks! Report
Thank you for an excellent blog. I needed it today! Report
Excellent! Report
Good article and I really needed it today! Thank you so much! Report
Thanks for your blog. Ii needed it. I have been very hard on myself and I should be happier. I haven't lost the weight I wanted but I can breath easier. Thanks again for snapping me back to reality Report
The reason we say bad things about ourselves is because of social cues all around us, 24 hrs a day. Those feelings didn’t just pop into our heads suddenly. Kindergarten kids already feel those things.......looks are everything in our society. You can be a horrid person, but if you look good, you are forgiven..... Report