I was an overweight kid, fat teen, and am an obese adult. I won’t sugarcoat my condition with “nicer” terms. Weight has been a struggle all of my life. I believe it’s a combination of things: hereditary (thanks, Dad!), poor exercise habits, a penchant for sweets, and underlying health issues. I’ve always eaten healthy – let’s be clear on that. My parents made sure to incorporate copious amounts of veggies in each meal and they were balanced. I had a tendency to overeat meals I really enjoyed, while other times I ate a very reasonable portion. We did not bake cookies and keep sweets around the house nor did I get processed snacks in my lunchbox. We hardly ever ate out.
As a working teen, I had the money and ability to drive myself around and eat/buy junk. Sugary coffee drinks and smoothies became a popular way of hanging out and catching up with friends. In college, starving student me sometimes cut corners and picked fries and a burger over the salad at the student cafe because frankly, I wanted to stay full and a burger+fry combo was $4.50 and a salad was $7.00. Add to that many sleepless nights attributed to projects and studying, and you have obese Laura.
What I didn’t understand as tween and teen was that the sluggishness I felt and intolerance for cold were tell-tale signs of a thyroid condition. It wasn’t until 20 that I was officially tested and found out I had hypothyroidism. That was the missing piece to the weight condition puzzle. Beyond weight, I need help with function to help my body work better. I was on medication for a few years and got to a point where my thyroid levels were about right. It’s been two years since I needed medication, but I feel signs that it is low again, so I will be testing my levels again.
This is my story. I understand that maybe Erica grew up getting McDonalds every day after school, also couldn’t care less about exercise, and enjoyed sugary drinks like me and made it into adulthood with a svelte figure. We’re built differently. I possibly even ate much better than her and more nutritiously, but we still have a 100 pound difference between us.
It’s rough having to be more conscious about your body at an age where many of your peers are able to eat whatever they want and don’t need to focus on weight loss. It’s rough when ads for your age group are for stores you don’t fit, and styles don’t flatter your body type. Sometimes it feels unfair knowing that having a burger and fries will affect my weight more than my friends. But I get it – I get that we are all different. I get that being conscious now means I will be making better body choices now as a quarter-lifer that hopefully save me from health problems midlife.
I’m glad that there is a plus size movement encouraging overweight women to be comfortable with who they are at their size. I have been grateful for the stores selling plus size fashion so I can wear flattering styles like my peers. I’m happy that people are taking a message of body positivity – to be happy being you at any size. And while certain bloggers and exercise gurus are wagging their fingers at a movement that encourages acceptance of an unhealthy weight, remember that I was eating chicken and broccoli while Erica was piling her plate with pasta. We each have a journey of health. Mine is losing weight and continuing to better portion and find what works for my body while maybe Erica’s is incorporating a more balanced plate but not needing any portion restrictions. I’m finding a new confidence in myself as I own who I am and see myself as more than just my weight. I’m making better food choices, making most of my meals at home, trying out new exercise techniques, and more committed to self-improvement as a whole.