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.
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.