Thursday, November 7, 2013

Confessions of a chubby kid

Back in my dancin days
So here's the deal, I've never been skinny. Sure my body has been many different shapes and sizes, but none of those were what is considered "skinny" or "thin". Even as a kid, the truth is that I loved to eat. I wasn't considered overweight yet, but with each year I got closer and closer to that "danger zone".  It didn't matter what the charts said though, my fellow classmates weren't shy about their judgement.

I spent the early part of my childhood living in Mexico, attending a school with some of the areas most wealthy and elite families. This meant appearances were everything and my over consumption at parties didn't go unnoticed.  Apparently you aren't supposed to eat in public as a woman.   It isn't ladylike to take seconds.  The other mothers would look at me with such appalled faces that I dared to actually eat all of what was served to me. Thankfully, even as a kid, what others thought of me really didn't bother me much. In fact, my mom often jokes about the time I went to a party and ate almost 5 times as much as the other girls.  As an active kid I had a healthy appetite and didn't see anything wrong with eating when I was hungry.  That's what I was taught, and to always finish your plate.

6th grade, I loved sports
Throughout the years my love of food would always keep me at the area of those growth charts that doctors felt the need to mention but weren't overly concerned as long as I kept things under control. Again, it was kids at school who told me otherwise. One of my most memorable and shameful experiences was when I was in 6th grade.  A 5th grade boy hit me across the back with a tree branch and yelled "run cow run". As much as that hurt, both physically and emotionally, I didn't let it bring me down. I'm blessed to have my parents.  They taught me to be a fighter and survivor. That's exactly what I did, I fought back the tears and didn't give that bully the satisfaction of knowing how deeply his torment stung. Through it all I developed a huge personality with a heart and sense of humor to match.  That's how I survived, I would plaster a giant smile on my face and bury the pain.

Middle School, I was up to at least 4 sports by now

By the time middle school came around I felt immune to any kind of negative energy and found a place among the popular crowd.  If anyone had anything to say about my weight or appearance they sure didn't voice those opinions to me.  High school was sort of the same, the criticism now came from coaches (this includes my dad).  They would tell me that I needed to train more or push harder.  I think what they really meant was if you could just drop a few pounds you'll be a far better athlete.  It just so happens that around this time my mom and grandma started going to weight watchers.  They dragged me along to the meetings and weighs ins week after week.  I hated it.  As far as I was concerned, there wasn't anything wrong with my body.  I didn't feel the need to shame myself because I didn't fit what someone else deemed the ideal body type.  I was happy. 

Party girl days...oh college
Then college happened.  I no longer had seasons of sports to train for or the rigid schedule of high school to follow.  I partied too much, ate recklessly, didn't sleep enough, and certainly didn't do enough physical activity.  I overindulged in all the wrong things and starved my body of all the things it desperately needed.  Each year I would pack on a few more pounds and before I realized what was happening I had gained about 60 pounds.  It's easy to fall into.  If you've never been there you can't understand.  People always say well you must have noticed, couldn't you tell you were gaining weight?  No, I couldn't.  In all honesty, I didn't notice each time I had to go up a size.  I would tell myself, oh it's just the fit of these pants.  You make excuses for yourself. 

Nothing that happened or things that people said caused me to make a change.  It wasn't until I decided to run that first race and realized just how unhealthy I had become.  After struggling through those 3 miles I made the decision to change things around.  It wasn't to be a certain size or weight, I just wanted to be able to run 3 miles without stopping.  It sounds silly now, but that's what I wanted.  In fact, if I could've run those miles at the same weight I was at I think I would have been OK with that.  I was the only person who could make that choice and stick to it.  I didn't have anyone to hold my hand or lead the way.  I did it on my own because I wanted to.  I didn't take any pills or follow a crazy diet, I just made small changes that led to some pretty big changes.  You didn't gain those extra pounds overnight and they aren't going to magically fall off in a week.  It takes hard work and dedication.  I'm constantly learning which are the right decisions to make, and I still stumble and fall from time to time.  I don't stay down though, I pick myself right back up and keep pushing forward because I refuse to be defeated.  Getting healthy and fit is a journey, just remember to enjoy the adventure along the way.

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