Many of you do not realize, I was an overweight child in a normal weight world. Childhood obesity was not the norm, nor was it a concern. The children of today will not live past the age of their parents and that is scary. Yes, I ate Little Debbie’s, Twinkies, Doritos and had food-dye laden juice boxes and fruit roll-ups. I was not always an overweight kiddo, but it all changed when my parents bought a pizza place to start up a business. My mom cooked homemade meals every night from scratch, but she became a working mom and many of my meals now was pizza puffs (remember those?), cheeseburgers, cheese fries, pizza and well more pizza a few nights per week. In fact in one year, I can see the difference in my face in my school pictures. I was thin one year, the next I was well, “chubby”.
Every Friday night, my dad brought home pizza, so I ate pizza for breakfast or Cheerios (laden with about a tablespoon of white sugar). My mom refused to buy sugary cereals, so I took it upon myself to give it the sugar it needed and I loved drinking the milk from the bottom where all the sugar sank down into. Those were my good ole days. You get the picture.
However, the weight came with a price in the 80’s. Not everyone was overweight…not like today where it is becoming the norm. Yes, I was picked last in gym class to be on teams and I dreaded the Presidental Fitness Test, because I failed every single one of them. I wished I could have my name on the gym walls where those who got top scores in their fitness classes. I could hear the kids giggling at me when I was last or second to last in my one-mile timed run or got one second in the flexed arm hang. I HATED gym class. I wanted to go roller skating with my friends and I did, but was hurt one time when a good friend didn’t ask me to go, I seriously thought because I was too big to be skating, which made me slow and cautious. I looked on with envy to those who were fancy on their skates. In junior high, I ended up being made fun, even had Twinkies smeared on my locker (girls are cruel at this age) and my home life was violent and full of lies home, I thought about suicide…more than once because I honestly thought no one would miss me, but something Greater than me pulled me through in which I did not understand at the time. That was 8th grade.
I was a hurting child. My parents fought, a lot. They separated and got back together. My dad worked nights on top of their pizza business, when I did see him, I feared him. He knew I was overweight, and whenever he caught me snacking, he would tell me I was getting too fat. So I sneaked in snacks, carefully counting chips so I didn’t eat too many so no one would noticed it would be gone. Eventually, food became a way to control what I ate, it wasn’t a source of comfort at all, I remember crying a few times eating some 15 Doritos chips because I didn’t want him to find out.
My mom tried hard to have healthy snacks in the house, but when you are a latch-key kid, who wants to eat grapes or apples? I did though and I ate lots of fruits. I tried to diet as a little girl and would step on the scale almost every day, something I still do to this day. It keeps me in check now, before it was an obsession.
The viscious cycle of dieting my family goes back to my great-grandmother, Nana. She was always trying new fad diets well into her 70’s. My grandmother was on the TRIM team back in the 60’s, she too worked hard at keeping her weight down. I remember her having the “Stewardess Diet” (she worked for the airlines) which was a 600 calorie per day diet that was for those scheduled to be in air and had to be of certain weight or else they could not fly (I tried following that diet, seriously dangerous). My mom too: Herbalife, Nutri-System, Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers. We tend to pass on down our bad cycles to our daughters. This cycle was first brought to my attention when a good mom friend recommended to me, Mother, Daughter Wisdom by Dr. Christine Northrup. I recommend this book to all mothers who have KIDS, boys and all, you will never grow out of it. She points it out to you and tells you how you can stop any bad cycle in your family.
After my parents divorced (finally) I was in 8th grade. My dad eventually left the picture and I was into my freshman year of high school. I moved in with my mom’s best friend to finish out the last 4 months so it wouldn’t disrupt my year. The summer before I transferred my mother put me through Jenny Craig (I just recently disclosed this to my husband, so this is a big deal for me). She did not want me to go through the name calling or being left out because of my overweight stature. I lost 20 lbs, no longer drank pop (I was a childhood soda drinker) and starting a new school with a new look was the confidence I needed back then because I had NO self-esteem. I experienced first hand how it was to be treated in a thinner body and I didn’t want to get bigger again. I made the dance team, joined various organizations and played soccer. Going to a new high school was the best thing that happened to me in my teen years. However, I gained half my weight back by my senior year and made better efforts to lose weight by eating better.
Being an overweight child and the stresses of my childhood has affected my health today. Good in a way that I eat way more healthy than I did even 10 years ago, but bad in the fact that my “gut” health has suffered and why I have so many food sensitivities. And I still carry a few of my own childhood food issues with me into my adulthood. I am in a really good place now. I thankfully have a very loving and wonderful husband who loves my curves, belly fat and all.
I write this because there is an assumption that I don’t understand what it is like to be overweight, the struggles, the body issues. Coming from a lonely place in childhood has made me a stronger person today. I still fight my own inner issues, but with age comes more wisdom and I care less than I did in my 20’s. It is about inner health and a peaceful heart. I thank God for having my back even though I did not know Him back then.