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how to take a bath when you're fat

As someone who’s on the larger side, one of my first priorities when I was looking to buy a home many years ago was the bathroom. All my adult life, I’d struggled to find a tub that was big enough and deep enough for me to actually enjoy myself (and clean myself) in the bath.

I absolutely love the water and honestly, there are so many benefits to taking a soak in the tub. Personally, I find it’s the best way to relax my muscles after a long day. I really enjoy pampering myself with aromatherapy, too.

That being said, taking a bath really does come with its challenges when you have some extra rolls. Like most of the challenges that you deal with when you’re chubby, though, there are also ways to overcome those challenges.

So what’s the best way to take a bath when you’re plus size?

It’s all about preparation and taking your time. I highly recommend long-handled bath tools to make everything easier along with installing a grip bar to make getting in and out easier. From there, take your time cleaning and drying off while enjoying your bath!

Below, we’ll take a closer look at each of these tips and a lot more- covering everything from hygiene and relaxation tips to the benefits of bathing. I’ll also cover tips for when you don’t have the option of upgrading your bathroom or buying a bigger bathtub.

After all, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to relax in the tub just because you’re carrying a little extra weight!

How to Take a Bath When You’re Fat

I’m going to paint a not-so-pretty picture of some of the things I’ve dealt with as a plus-sized bather. Let’s start with water levels. If you aren’t in one of those extra-large tubs, chances are it’s really hard to get most of your body under the water.

To soak all your different areas, especially if you deal with upper back or shoulder pain like I sometimes do, there’s a lot of shifting that goes on. With this shifting comes a lot of splashing and that makes it all too easy to make a mess all over the bathroom floor. There’s nothing really glorious or relaxing about it.

Fortunately, I’ve come a long way since that point and there are actually a lot of things that you can do to make bathing a lot more comfortable and enjoyable when you’re overweight. Here’s what I’ve learned.

Invest in Some Long-Handled Bath Tools

Flexibility is something that bigger people struggle with. While it is very possible for fat people to be flexible, it’s more the fact that we have to bend around our stomach to reach the different areas of our body. This is one of the reasons that most women struggle with painting their toenails so much.

Fortunately, there are plenty of long-handled bath tools. They might have been designed with the intent of making it easier for people to wash their backs, but they’re great for scrubbing legs and feet, too! Whether you prefer a brush-style scrubby, a loofah, or a softer sponge, there are plenty of choices. They even make long-handled razors for shaving those difficult-to-reach areas!

Get a Foot Scrubber

Some foot scrubbers are designed to grip the floor or side of your bathtub (I put mine on the side of the bathtub nearest my feet). They are great for boosting circulation, which I love after a long day of standing on my feet. Plus, boosting circulation is really helpful if your feet swell as mine do sometimes.

Another plus is how well this helps with exfoliation. Chances are, you have at least one area of your foot that gets calluses. Calluses generally form on whatever area of your foot where you put the most weight.

Exfoliating with a foot scrubber takes away all that dead skin. Then, I can put on some lotion and a pair of socks to lock in moisture and make my feet a little softer.

Install a Grip Bar in the Tub

It isn’t always getting in the tub that’s the hard part for me- it’s getting back out again. There is nowhere for me to really grab onto for leverage, so I’d gently roll over until my knees were on the bottom of the tub so I could shift to my feet and then stand up. Even then, there’s always the risk of slipping and falling into the water.

Traditionally, grip bars are made for the elderly and for people who are at high risk of slipping in the tub. Honestly, though, that doesn’t mean that you can’t take advantage of them, too! There are even smaller, stick-on kinds (which is the kind I have) that don’t take up quite as much space as the more traditionally styled ones.

Prep Your Bath Water

For me, before I even get in the tub, I like to turn on the shower head and give it a good, thorough rinsing. You never really know what hair or debris has been left behind in the tub from the last time it was used.

While bath time really is about cleaning up at the heart of things, it’s also a great thing for pampering and relaxation. Something I’ve found that’s made a big difference as someone who carries a little extra weight is taking the time to be kind to and pamper myself.

When you struggle with body confidence, you don’t always feel like you deserve to invest in yourself and the way that you look. However, that idea couldn’t be further from the truth. Find a scent of bubble bath or body wash that you love, invest in some aromatherapy salts or oils, or throw a bath bomb in there. Don’t be afraid to experiment until you find what you like.

Of course, prepping your bath water could also mean adding things with health benefits. A good detoxifier is an option or you can add Epsom salts to fight muscle soreness. I also love adding aromatherapy oils to the bath, though you will want to be really careful about slipping in the tub after you use them.

Decide on Water Temperature

The biggest factor when it comes to water temperature should be your own preference, especially since you know what feels good to your own body. Of course, you can also adjust your water temperature depending on what benefits you’re trying to get from the bath.

I’ve found that hot water is generally my preference because my major goal is relaxation and cleansing. I like that hot water opens the pores so it’s easier to get clean and exfoliate. Plus, hot water soothes sore, tired muscles that you might get if you work in a physically demanding job or when you spend a long day kayaking, hiking, or doing something fun.

For people that have eczema, dry skin, or other conditions that might result in dry, itchy, or irritated skin, heat can make the condition worse, whereas cooler water provides soothing relief.

Why the Timing of Your Bath Matters

Some nights, I can’t think of a better way to relax than taking a bath right before bed. Unfortunately, if you’ve eaten recently (think any time in the last 2 hours), it can actually do more harm than good.

A hot bath has the major benefit of working as a vasodilator, which means it opens up the pores and blood vessels, increasing circulation through the body. While this increased circulation has a lot of benefits of its own, the process of vasodilation takes heat away from your digestive tract and can make your digestive processes stop.

This is a problem if you’ve recently eaten because then that food is just left in your digestive tract. On the other hand, though, a cold shower forces your body to regulate its own internal temperature and can actually boost metabolism and digestion.

Be Thorough When You Clean

This next part makes some people uncomfortable so I’m just going to put it out there- fat people have rolls. That being said, it’s really important to make sure that you are cleaning everywhere, even if it requires a little lifting to get the job done.

One of the reasons that I enjoy the bath is that it’s easy for water to really get in there (plus, all my smell-good bath products). This makes it easy to do a really thorough job.

Don’t worry if you can’t necessarily manage the all-over clean like you want to while sitting in the bath. There’s nothing wrong with taking a bath for relaxation and then giving yourself a quick wash in the shower afterward.

Rinse with a Shower Afterward

This is something that you don’t necessarily have to do. For me personally, though, I like a chance to get any leftover bath residue off my skin. It’s not always dirt, but I don’t like it when my bath products just sit on top of my skin. It makes me feel a little itchy and weighed down. Plus, rinsing gives me a chance to get any hard-to-reach spots I might have missed while I was sitting in the tub.

Always Take the Time to Dry Off Properly

This next part also might be a little uncomfortable for some people. When you have folds of skin, it’s very easy to overlook them when you get out of the shower or bath.

Unfortunately, anywhere that is dark and damp has a high risk of bacterial growth and it’s not uncommon for obese people to develop sores in these areas. Drying properly is going to go a long way in preventing that.

Can a Hot Bath Help You Lose Weight?

We haven’t gotten to that section yet, but bathing really does have a ton of health benefits. That being said, more recent research has also indicated that the way a hot bath heats up your body makes it work harder to maintain a normal temperature.

According to a 2016 study carried out by Loughborough University on thermal therapy, an hour-long soak in hot water (around 104 degrees) burns around 130 calories. This is the same benefit you’d get by walking for 30 minutes. In the same study, participants also had lower blood glucose levels and blood pressure.

Research also shows that cold baths have a similar benefit. As the body works to maintain internal temperature, it boosts metabolism and burns calories.

Now, that’s not to say that your nightly soak alone is going to help you lose weight. While a hot (or cold) bath does burn calories, your other lifestyle choices play a big role in it, too.

What Are Some of the Benefits of Taking a Bath When You’re Fat?

For me, the real benefits come from relaxation and pampering. Taking a bath is a great way to unwind and get ready for bed, plus I can’t think of anything better some nights than taking a relaxing bath and then cuddling with my husband in bed.

It turns out there’s science behind this relaxation, too. Hot water bathing for just 20 minutes significantly reduces the amount of the stress hormone cortisol in your blood.

Research also shows that bathing is great for mental health and improves your quality of sleep. If you struggle with finding the most comfortable sleeping position because of your extra weight like I do, then this is a definite bonus.

Furthermore, bathing has physical benefits because of the way that it dilates the blood vessels and lowers blood pressure. It improves cardiovascular health and reduces the risk of stroke, fights inflammation through the body, and encourages the joints and muscles to relax.

Of course, personal hygiene is a great reason to take a bath, too! As larger people, we tend to sweat more when our bodies work to cool us down. Sweat doesn’t always have the most pleasant aroma and personal hygiene goes a long way in helping you make friends or impress at a job interview.

What If I’m Too Big for the Bathtub?

Bathtubs aren’t made for everyone and I’ve found they really exclude people who are taller or bigger around the middle. Like I mentioned earlier, a bigger, better tub was definitely something that I looked for while I was home shopping. But what if you don’t have the option of upgrading your bathtub to a larger size?

You can get a lot of the same relaxation and cleansing benefits from taking a shower instead. If you’d like to sit and relax, investing in a shower bench or seat is an option.

Another thing that’s pretty easy to install and makes showers a LOT different is a detachable showerhead. It makes it easy to rinse all your nooks and crannies without having to turn around and bend every which way. A lot of the products I mentioned earlier like long-handled shower tools and a foot scrubber work in the shower, too!

Final Word

Bathing is one of those things that is necessary, so there’s no reason that you shouldn’t enjoy it. Fortunately, they do make a lot of tools that make bathing fat-friendly and it can actually be a relaxing and enjoyable experience once you have some help.

For people wondering how to bathe when you’re fat, hopefully this has answered a lot of questions. You deserve to be able to enjoy a soak after a long day like anyone else!

If you have any tips that I might have forgot for the big guy or plus-size woman while bathing, feel free to drop them below. I’m always ready to try something new that might make life a little easier!

Camila R.

Camila is a body positive blogger and fat activist that's focused on helping people of all sizes live life big! That means accepting yourself at any size and just enjoying life! She lives in New Mexico with her husband and two chihauhuas.

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