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Forum A- Compulsive Eating Workshop


This forum is based on exercises recommended in Susie Orbach's book 'Fat is a Feminist Issue'.

The aim is to examine your own feelings towards 'fat' and 'thin', and to find positive outlets for your feelings instead of turning to compulsive eating behavious.

By doing these exercises in a discussion forum you can both remain anonymous and offer each other help and encouragement. You will see how many other people feel the same as you and gain new perspectives. A new exercise will be posted each fortnight so that you can work through them in chronological order. Hopefully by the end of the program you will have a more positive attitude towards your body and eating.


exercise 1 - Fat Fantasy

* This is part one of an exercise is designed to help you understand how you use your body to express your different emotional states . . .

Please make yourself comfortable, close your eyes and relax . . . imagine that you are at a party . . . Imagine the type of party it is . . . It might be a dancing party, a talking party, a small intimate party . . . how you are feeling? . . What are you wearing? . . . How do you feel in these clothes? . . . Try and feel yourself in your body . . . Now notice your behaviour at this party. Are you an observer? . . . Are you actively mixing with other people; do you feel withdrawn? . . . As you observe yourself at this party; I’d like you to imagine that you are getting fatter . . . You are now quite large . . . How do you feel at this size? . .You may have both negative and positive feelings about being this size . . . What are you wearing and how do you feel about your clothes? . . . how are you interacting with the other people there? . . . Are you on your own or are you talking, dancing, eating with others? . . . Do you feel comfortable or would you like to leave? . . . Can you initiate contact or do you feel you must wait until you are sought out? . . . Now I’d like you to imagine your fat is communicating with the people at the party . . . It is saying something that I’d like you to put into words . . . What is your fat saying to others? . . Is there any way in which you feel it helps you to be this size in this situation? . . . When you are ready, turn to the questions below.

1. What positive aspects of fatness emerged that you hadn’t realised you felt?

2. What emerged about aspects of your personality that you express through your fat?

3. How might you express that part of you if you were your ideal size?


Exercise 2 - Thin Fantasy

* This is part two of the above exercise and designed to help you understand how you use your body to express your different emotional states. Since these meanings vary and different moods can illuminate different meanings, the more often you do the exercise, the more you will get out of it.

Close your eyes, breathe deeply and relax…continuing from the previous visualization imagine yourself at the same party. . . but now the fat has melted off you; you are now your ideal size . . . Can you see yourself? . . . Can you feel yourself at your ideal size? . . . Notice what you are wearing …What do these clothes say about you? . . . What do you see from the perspective of being your ideal size? .. . Do you view the party with different eyes? . . . What or who do the people at the party see when they look at you? . . . How do you feel? . . . Are you sure of yourself or do you feel vulnerable? . . . How are you getting on with the others at the party? . . . Are there differences between how you interacted with people when you were fat and how you are getting on now? . . . Focus on the positive feelings coming up in you about your being your ideal size .. . Are you being seen as you? . . . Are you being admired for your body? Now see if you notice any disconcerting feelings about being your ideal size at this party? . . . Is there anything scary unpleasant about being this size? . . . Now I’d like you imagine that you are fat once again, still at this same party … Does the atmosphere change? . . . How? How do you feel within yourself? . . . Can you contact any feelings of relief about being larger again? . . . See what messages this fat you is sending out .. . Is there any way in which it helps you to be fat at the party? . . . Are there any conflicts you seem able to avoid? Are there some very private feelings concealed in the fat? .. . When you are ready, I’d like you to imagine that once again, at this party; you are your ideal size . . . How do you feel? . . . Allow yourself to experience the many complicated feelings you may have . . . Notice how you are in your ‘slim’ clothes and how you feel in your body . . . Do you feel you? . . . Particularly note any difficult feelings that come up for you in being your ideal size . . . See if you can pinpoint any feelings that might have made it hard for you to stay at this size in the past . . . When you are ready, turn to the questions below.

1. What emerged about you at your imagined ‘ideal’ size?

2. What fears came up for you about being slim?

3. What aspects of your personality are you currently suppressing that you imagine go with slimness?

4. How might you express those aspects now?


Exercise 3 - Mirror Analysis #1

Sit down in a chair and close your eyes, follow your breathing for a moment and try to get a feel of your body from inside, and a mental picture of how you look sitting in the chair… Imagine yourself as you are now and sit in a position that expresses how you feel about your body . . Now strike a confident pose… now an eager one … now an open attitude to the world… now a withdrawn stance . Do all this with your eyes closed… Just feel the internal changes and the shifts you are required to make ...

Now I’d like you to imagine that you are your ideal size ‘What are you spontaneously expressing’ in this pose? … Now try a series of poses just as you did before, only at your ideal size ... open, withdrawn, eager, confident, reticent, and so on . Notice how rich a repertoire of physical expression you have …

1. When you have familiarised yourself with the various feelings, review what was different about them at different imagined body sizes...

2.  What aspects of the ideal size would you like to express right now? 

3. Did you discover anything at all difficult or surprising about feeling yourself into your ideal size?


Exercise 4 - Mirror Analysis # 2

 * This exercise continues from the previous exercise

...Now open your eyes, stand up and take a good look at your whole body in the mirror . . . Follow the outlines of your body and get a picture of the whole of you rather than focusing in on details ...Try not to judge, just look. Stand comfortably and try to project a feeling of accepting and liking yourself. . . Keep your back straight and turn sideways so that you get another picture of yourself. . . Just look, try not to judge . . . Now turn forwards and then to the other side . . . Just look, try not to judge . . Turn forwards again and, starting with your toes, look all the way up your body and, when you reach your head, look from your head all the way down . . As you look at yourself in the mirror, try to see yourself. with accepting eyes...

…Turn to your right, stand as though you are now your ideal size and look into the mirror . . Now turn to the other side . . . What do you see? . . . Now turn frontwards and resume your usual stance . . . What are the differences? . . . Now sit down on the chair as if you were your ideal size . . . What do you see? . . How would it be for you to hold this position regularly? . . . Would it express more clearly how you feel about the inner you? Would you appear to be too confident? . . . Hold this position for a minute and, when you are ready, go on to the questions below.

1. Were you able to feel comfortable looking at yourself? Describe what you felt. As you do the exercise regularly, notice the small changes in self-acceptance.

2. What did you notice when you tried to project yourself at your ideal size? What aspects of you came forwards? How did you hold yourself diferently?

Try incorporating the positive aspects of how you hold your body at your ideal size into how you are in your body now. Start off by doing it for a few minutes each hour...and let us know how you go!