How I Learned to Love My Body

I got chubby in middle school. Once I hit puberty and everything changed, I put some weight on, and it never really came off.

I was very active as a kid, on a softball team, taking karate lessons, running around at summer camp, then swim team in high school. I loved being outside climbing trees and being active in general. My friends and I would bike or rollerblade all summer long, or play baseball in the cul-de-sac.

I was always on the go.

It wasn’t until late middle school that I even realized I was chubby. It was bar and bat mitzvah season at my temple, and we would all dress up and go to each other’s parties, and I started to become aware of my body being different than other girls.

I was a bit self-conscious of it, and started developing the habits all chubby kids seem to share: I would hold a throw pillow on my lap when sitting, or cover with a blanket over my tummy, or wear clothes that were a little too big. And of course, as an adult, I would wear low cut shirts, as a distraction.

I was always around a US size 12 or 14, and would fluctuate between them.

In college, I was a waitress, running around for 10 hours a day in a restaurant, and still I stayed overweight. It still bothered me, but I masked it by being extroverted and ‘the funny one.’ Ever wonder why the chubby kid is so funny? It’s a defense mechanism.

People aren’t laughing AT you if they are laughing WITH you.

Of course it bothered me that I was overweight and bigger than a lot of other girls. It really did, though I tried not to compare myself to others and I tried not to think about it.

The truth is that was who I really was. I am a social butterfly, I’m confident in my skills and abilities, and I am a happy, positive person. That’s doesn’t mean I wasn’t also self-conscious about my body.

You may think all of that confidence would supersede the body image issues, but it didn’t. I could be happy with who I was without being completely happy with my waistline.

I tried diets and workouts. It turned out that I enjoyed going to the gym. I loved the way I felt after a great workout, all sweaty and gross.

Going to the gym regularly helped me be less self-conscious. Not because I was losing weight, because I really wasn’t.

But because I was strong. Lifting weights and seeing what my body can do taught me to be proud of my muscles and my body in different ways.

Climbing a mountain in Israel!

Falling in love with someone who didn’t care how much I weighed and was confident in me even when my own confidence faltered taught me to see myself differently.

I have been able to really figure out who I am, and really like who I am in ways that make me realize my BMI is not the whole of my identity, it is just a small piece of me.

In learning to love my body, I have become a better person. I have become healthier when the focus was less on weight and more on health and cleaner eating. I have become even more confident in myself and happy with my looks. I have learned to do real push ups and not lady push ups. I have a goal of doing pull ups someday.

Learning to love my body also gave me more confidence in other aspects of my life, and I even took a risk and became an entrepreneur and full-time writer and editor!

Mostly, I have grown up and become happy and loving of all aspects of myself. I love my body and I love me.

Entrepreneur, writer, editor, book coach, cat lover, weirdo, optimist. Author of “Write. Get Paid. Repeat.” & “Concept to Conclusion.” jyssicaschwartz.com

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