I remember always being a little chubby as I was growing up. My two older sisters were a normal weight and so was my brother. My dad was always a healthy weight but my mom was a little chunkier after she started having kids, but never obese. My mom cooked meals for me just as she did when my siblings were young. She cooked healthy, well balanced meals that I was required to finish before I left the table or had desert. I never liked sweets that much anyway, so I never had a so called “sweet tooth”. I played dolls and danced around to music all the time and I played outside quite a bit. My brother had an Atari and later a Nintendo but I don’t remember ever playing any of that until my teen years probably and even then, not a whole lot. I was a normal kid in the 80’s, just a little bit chubby, not really fat and definitely not obese.
I remember getting sick with a virus or something right before 5th grade when I was 9 and dropping about 25 pounds in no time. I still wasn’t skinny but I definitely wasn’t fat then. Later that year, I ended up meeting an older girl who was what you would consider fat or overweight, but that sort of thing didn’t matter to me. I was friendly and would be friends with whoever was a nice person. I remember the girl coming up to me and asking if she could borrow some money to get some lunch one day. She told me she had forgotten hers, so I let her borrow some. I didn’t care. Later, I was told by the girl’s mom(a lady who worked at the school in another class) to not give the girl money anymore. The lady explained to me that the girl had some kind of problem with her brain where she would eat and forget that she had done so. She always felt hungry because of this problem. I had never heard of such a thing and even to this day, it seems strange, but I agreed to do what her mom said and next time the girl asked, I would tell her I didn’t have any money or some excuse.
Looking back, that was the first moment in my life I had ever been exposed to someone who was overweight and it wasn’t completely their fault. When I looked at her, I felt pity in my heart because people were so cruel to her and called her names. I never called her names and was always nice to the girl and tried to stick up for her because I felt her situation was unfair.
Now, it seems like it was almost a foretelling of my own situation later in life.
When I was almost 12, we moved to another city to be closer to my grandma. We had had a fire during the move and I was leaving my best friend and the big city for a small city and junior high. At the time I was 4’11” and probably about 120 pounds. I was chubby, but if you look at pictures from that time, I didn’t look fat. I was healthy and I ate right, but my weight just stuck to me. My mom never told me I should diet or anything and why should she have? She cooked good foods and I wasn’t an overeater. Throughout the next few years, I would end up putting on more weight, though. My mom probably thought some of the reason was puberty….I mean, I WAS a teenager.
It sucked for me, though. One of my best friends was really tall and weighed about 85 pounds. I remember being shocked at how much my friend could eat. She could put away 10 times the amount of food I could eat and she wouldn’t gain a pound. I would eat an average amount of food and gain! It just seemed so unfair. I remember going out for pizza one time, I ate about 3 pieces, which was more than I usually would eat and then I was full. She ate 14 pieces before she was done and you guessed it, not one pound did she gain. I could see that I was having to get plus size clothes and I wanted so badly to be skinnier, but I just couldn’t understand how I could keep gaining when I wasn’t eating any more than I usually did.
Then high school hit….at my biggest I was probably about 180 and close to my highest height I would reach, which was 5’5″. I WAS overweight and back then I felt really fat. Now I would say I wasn’t as fat as I thought I was. I just couldn’t get the weight off. I tried starving some a few times and that even made me gain. I now KNOW that starving makes your body hold on to whatever fat you DO have, so that’s definitely not the answer. Back then, it just frustrated me even more. Overall, I was a healthy girl. At my physicals, I had perfect blood pressure, good blood sugar, no signs of diabetes or anything, I was in good health, just a little overweight.
But others didn’t feel that way…..I remember the comments. “You look like a Huge Whale.” “Why don’t you get off the couch and exercise?” “How much food DO you eat? Do you eat a whole steak every night?” “You are such a FAT cow, if you died, no one would care.” You think I exaggerate, but those were comments coming from 15-17 yr. olds in the late 90’s……I don’t exaggerate.
Those words hurt because after hearing them for so long, you start to believe them. You start to believe that no one DOES care and that you’re just lazy and worth nothing. The truth was that I wasn’t lazy, I didn’t eat unhealthy and I didn’t deserve those words. BUT because of those words, I would skip lunch on more than one occasion so the other kids wouldn’t see me eating anything. I would only eat in the privacy of my home as much as possible and worry that every time I ate in public, people were seeing a pig eating.
It wasn’t until after high school and I gained even more weight that I was first diagnosed as having a thyroid problem. Hypothyroidism. It means I have a super slow metabolism so everything I eat ends up making me gain weight. And it doesn’t matter what KIND of food. Both of my sisters, my mom AND my grandma have thyroid problems too, but one of my sisters has Hyperthyroidism where your metabolism is too fast. Without taking medicine, she would probably weigh around 90 pounds all the time.
My thyroid problem is NOT completely under control yet for several reasons, but it helps to know what was behind my uncontrolled weight gain that started when I was a pre-teen.
When I hear other people bashing parents that have obese children and talk about taking the children away, I have mixed reactions. I believe there ARE some kids out there that the parents probably are feeding their kids unhealthy and they just don’t care. But then I also believe there are kids just like I was. Would my parents deserved to have ME taken away back then? NO!
There ARE some health reasons that cause kids to gain weight no matter how they are fed and whether they exercise a lot or not….and I believe THIS should be taken into account. Not every parent with an overweight child is a bad parent. There are other factors that should be looked into.
And for that matter, not every overweight or obese person is lazy OR eats unhealthy all the time and I am extremely tired of hearing the biased comments from those who have never experienced being FAT or overweight one day of their life! I am sick of the “Get off the couch and do something” statements made by people who do NOT have a video camera in everyone’s house to see that they are in fact only sitting on the couch! For that matter, I know super skinny people who are more lazy than some overweight people and run out of breath faster……Stop stereotyping!