I was always that chubby child.
At 8, my parents would bring a box of Legos to keep my brother quiet at their social events. Me? They would bring a box of food, because according to my mom, it was the only thing that could distract me. I was obsessed with the different textures, from the silky smooth to the crispy crunch. I was in love with the way food tasted in my mouth, from the satisfying sweetness of chocolate to the mouth-watering saltiness of chips. All in all, I was destined to become that chubby girl.
At 12, my parents started me on sports. And I mean, seriously start me on sports. I was playing tennis thrice a week, swimming for three hours at a time, and going for ‘family walks’. But I knew such family activities were targeted at me. While both my brothers were tall and lean, muscular even, all that food had finally caught up to me – my childish cherubic cheeks were rounding out and joining with my thick double chin, and my brothers would often grab my flabby stomach out of spite. In school, I was enlisted into their TAF club, supposedly standing for Training and Fitness, but just as a fellow comrade pointed out, it was the really the reverse (Read: FAT club).
At 14, my parents felt something was wrong. They had lowered my calorie intake – this I particularly hated, because even though my brothers both got full bowls of my favorite Ruffles BBQ chips I would only get a third – and had increased my sports activities, my hips were still rounding out. Whenever the school conducted their annual ‘height and weight’, I would come home with a smile upside down because I was on the wrong end of the class distribution. So they had me tested by doctors and everything, and all their poking and prodding and blood withdrawing found that my body lacked a very important enzyme. I could not and would not burn sugar as fast as everyone else, and was more likely to store fat than majority of my friends at school. In other words, it was my fate to be that chubby girl.
At 16, my parents had learned to let me be. I would not wear dresses because my thick arms would show, and I never wore jeans because they highlighted my thunder thighs. Instead, I hid under Soccer kits, pretending to be the biggest fan of Manchester United. It hurt to walk sometimes because my thighs would chafe, giving me a nasty abrasion. Giving up on my looks all together, I cut my hair into a fashion similar to my brother’s. My life was set; until the day I fell in love with the cutest boy in my church.
At 17, I was the lightest I had ever been since I was 13. Three months was all it took, really, to make the desire of the cutest boy ever come true. I had reduced my calorie intake to the point of starvation, just so my body would thin out like the other girls in my clique. I grew my hair out, and stopped pretending I cared about soccer. I truly achieved his ideal of a “skinny, pretty girl with long hair”. But, I was hollow on the inside – and I’m not only talking about a lack of food. I was also at the weakest I had ever been, always hungry, always tired and always falling sick. So, I gave it up.
At 19, I was that chubby girl again. All the weight I had lost in strict maintenance had rebounded because my childish love for food had overcome all. Besides, I had grown to realize that doing all that for a boy wasn’t worth it, I needed bigger aspirations. I had a friend who was chubby too, and we would hang out all the time because she accepted me for who I am. She taught me that we had to embrace our fat bodies, because that was how we “love our bodies”. But while I agreed with her philosophy, I never quite accepted her interpretation.
At 20, I was determined to shed off the weight again. Not for a boy, not to fit in, but for myself.
I started hitting the gym every day, and this was a great challenge because the gym is my personal hell. I fought the boredom of the treadmill, and battled with the fear of bulking up from free weights. I played tennis with my dad, went swimming with my brother, and took my puppy for evening walks. I counted my calories to ensure I was eating right, reducing my sugar intake to the occasional chocolate cube or Haagen Daaz spoon. Over time, my chubby cheeks began to thin out, and my waist was finally concave.
Today, at 21, I am still a work in progress.
Sure, my thighs still chafe, my tummy still bounces and my love handles still exist. But I have found the balance I had always needed between my love for food and my health – I eat everything I love in moderation, and I have a workout routine. Through my weight loss fitness journey, I have come to realize that to love your body is not about accepting your current condition, especially if were as unhealthy as I was (70kg at 158cm). On the other end of the spectrum, loving your body doesn’t mean starving yourself either.
To truly love your body, is to treat it right. Feed your body with good food, ensure that there’s a good proportion of veggies, protein and carbs. Eat not too little and not too much – just right. I still love food, but I have developed a love for healthier options (and cave in to that treat once in a while). Take your body out for exercise regularly, and always sleep early. Of course, listen to your body, don’t push it beyond your limit. After all, we only have one body – why not love it the best we can?