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Why Do I Feel Fat?

By Janie McQueen
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Roy Benaroch, MD

foot on scale

My clothes don’t fit anymore.

My thighs look chubby.

I feel fat.

Maybe you’ve had a thought like that, or heard your friends say it. It’s totally normal. When you compare yourself to other teens, models, even the beanpole that you might have been as a kid, you can end up feeling bigger.

But just because you know you look different than someone else, that doesn’t mean you’re fat or unhealthy. Instead of obsessing over a number on the scale or the tag on your clothes, focus on the way you live your life.

Change Happens

Let’s face it: Your body is going through a lot of change, super-fast. That means your weight will change, too.

“The most shocking period of weight gain may be right after the beginning of puberty” when your body matures, says Kristi King, RDN, a dietitian at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston.

So don’t worry that you weigh more than you did when you were a kid. It’s natural. The trick is not to gain extra weight.

Your life has changed, too. You don’t do the same things you used to do when you were younger. And some of those changes can affect your weight and your health:

Have you quit sports, dance, or karate? When you hit your teens, the active stuff you used to do can be first to go. That means you’re not using up as many calories as you used to. But even if you’re burned out after all those years of soccer practice, you need to find another way to be active instead. After all, fitness is power for your body and your brain.

“Remember, it’s about being physically active, not necessarily ‘exercise,’” says psychologist Sheethal Reddy, PhD.

Do you skip meals? When you finally get around to eating again, you’re so hungry that you’re likely to overeat.

Are you loading up on sugary drinks and junk? All that sugar is just empty calories. It won’t fill you up for long, so you eat more later. It also doesn’t give you the energy you need to make healthy choices, like exercising.

Do you get enough sleep? Late-night studying, gaming, and texting take a toll. A tired brain means a sluggish body, a bad mood, and big-time cravings for fattening foods.

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