04 Feb The Jolly Fat Person Persona and What it Has to Do with Keto and Banting
Santa Claus is a very fat and jolly man indeed. The whole world knows him for it and, better yet, loves him for it. At all the Christmas parties (which are all year round for Santa) he is the centre of attention, telling his stories about near slay malfunctions and reindeer disasters and the party goers roar with laughter and cheer Santa on.
Santa has figured out that people love his anecdotes about all the milk and cookies he eats and how his red suit is getting a little snug. He ends with the punchline: either he is getting fatter or the chimneys are getting smaller; people love that one. He tells it with a chuckle and a big smile on his face (incidentally the more eggnog he drinks the funnier he seems to become). When party goers leave they will pat his belly and wish him farewell.
However, when Santa is finally in his own bed, next to Mrs Claus, he doesn’t feel so jolly. Still fat, but definitely not jolly. It is hard work to keep up this persona especially because he is not feeling so good. He has cut down on the cookies and he only drinks skim-milk, but is still struggling with feeling hungry, unsatisfied and generally pretty lousy (unfortunately he has not yet heard of Keto / Banting). He doesn’t tell anyone though, not even Mrs Claus, because he is a jolly guy and jolly guys like him are not meant to feel down.
Deep down, he knows he is unhappy, but every time he goes to a party the drinks seem to flow, the guests delight in his stories and the cookies taste good, and so he carries on. He feels that if he appears to be happy on the outside no one will know what is really going on for him on the inside, and this way he doesn’t have to face things and make the necessary changes.
If he is really honest with himself though, he feels lonely, even as the centre of attention, and very unhappy with his weight. Santa feels utterly ashamed about how the world sees him, yet at the same time it is the perfect diversion to hide behind: “He had a broad face and a little round belly, that shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly”. He could ring the neck of the guy that wrote that poem (lucky he is long past dead).
Many of us are like Santa Claus, pretending to be ok on the outside and actually struggling on the inside. We create different personas (kind of like wearing masks) that we use to protect ourselves. Santa uses the “fat and jolly” persona but there are others.
Another similar one is the “self-deprecator” persona. This is the person who makes self-deprecating jokes about themselves in order to seem relaxed and easy-going. What this actually achieves is putting their own insecurities out there first, before anyone can think them or point them out. What appears to be a carefree or humorous statement is actually an indication of their most painful flaw: “Pass me that cookie, after all the only abs I have are abnormalities”.
This can come across as casual and nonchalant but for this person it is actually like taking a sledge hammer to their own self-esteem. It is a form of self-protection, but not a healthy one. It only reinforces and simultaneously avoids the pain that that person is experiencing. Avoiding emotions is never a good thing, it only means that they eventually find their way out in some other way (for example, emotional eating). There are many different personas, from the “people-pleaser” persona to the “everything is just fine” persona (a blog for another day).
Being the social beings we are, we all need to adjust to fit into different situations and with different people – we can use different personas in different situations if we need to. You might be an anti-authority heavy metal enthusiast with a mohawk but if the queen invites you for tea and scones, you are likely to smooth down your mohawk and curtsy/bow, because that’s just what you need to do.
While personas can help us to manage many different aspects of life, the problem is having that persona with all people and in all situations. Instead of adjusting and still being able to express yourself and be the authentic version of you, it’s like the setting gets stuck. Imagine if your “shift” key on your keyboard was permanently stuck. You would be typing “!@#$%” (excuse my language) instead of typing 12345 (or vice versa). Now imagine this is all the time! You can see how you start to lose yourself and become less authentic in who you are.
“The initial goal may be to lose weight, but in fact learning to express your emotions, ask for what you need and put yourself first, are the first steps.
Authenticity and integrity are a fundamental part in improving health and learning to take care of your body. The initial goal may be to lose weight, but in fact learning to express your emotions, ask for what you need and put yourself first, are the first steps. It is about learning to make better and healthier decisions for yourself, no matter what situation you are in.
If the queen happens to invite you for tea and scones, you can politely decline the scones and jam but accept the whipped cream instead. You can still be polite while remaining true to what is good for you. Santa is in the position where he feels he can’t ask for help because he would have to expose who he really is, and so feels pretty terrible about himself… it is a lonely place to be.
If Santa uses the internet and ends up reading this blog, he might experience some relief in knowing that he is actually not alone. If he was to join the RMR Coaching Program and Hero Group Support Program, he would be able to ask for help, but also learn more about himself. His authentic self. He could also have his very own support group (the elves are nice but they just have no concept of personal space) of like-minded people who can cheer him on (in a healthy way) and remind him that he no longer needs a persona to hide behind. He no longer needs to do himself the disservice of pretending to be the life of the party and boasting about his weight gain, when it is the very thing that brings him the most shame.
So, time to get real and authentic and drop the personas. Shout “!@#$%” if you have to (or 12345 if that is more your style)! If you happen to have a killer sense of humour and tend to be the life of the party, that is great, just make sure you enjoy yourself in a way that is healthy and authentically you.
Also, if you do celebrate Christmas, put out some full–fat milk and ‘not a biscuit’ for Santa. He won’t even have to pretend to be jolly.