My long term memory isn’t very strong. I’m known for forgetting names and childhood events, but there are some moments that stick out very clearly in my mind. Like when I went to the pediatrician and heard him say that I was 113lbs. I heard him tell my mom that was too much for me to weigh for a 6th grader, and I remember feeling humiliated.
I grew up chubby. I hated having to play sports or go to dance class because I was typically one of the biggest girls there and could feel judgement, even as a kid. Having to participate in organized activities was embarrassing. I remember being on the swim team and being the last one to finish my laps, everyone clapping so as to cheer for me, but only feeling shame.
The Chunky Girl
The funny and odd thing about my story is, as a youth, I was actually quite extroverted. I loved hanging with friends, making people laugh, and was one of the 4 speakers at our 6th grade graduation, which I was happy to do. Beyond knowing I was overweight, I still enjoyed spotlight, as long as it didn’t require physical activity.
I remember becoming a teenager and trying so hard to figure out who I was going to be. How was I going to fit in as a “chunky girl”. Which role or identity label would I feel most comfortable in. You see, the girls I hung out with were the pretty popular group. They were all smart, fashionably on point, and outgoing. I never thought of myself as a token fat kid. My friends had known me since we were little, and they loved me as is. But going into puberty, something in me longed to look like the pretty, popular girls; fit their clothes, to get the attention they got.
It’s crazy how the universe works sometimes. I can’t remember if I was 15 or 16, and we still don’t have answers to how...but during a lifeguard certification field trip I ended up in the fetal position, wet in the sand, praying to God to take me becuase the pain I was in was too unbearable. I was taken to the nearest hospital, then transferred by ambulance to Kapiolani Hospital. After a barrage of tests, tubes, and questions - all of which were completely degrading - I was diagnosed with acute pancreatitis. I was poked and prodded, and left with tubes in almost every orifice of my body, including down my throat, into my stomach. It was a couple days of terror for myself and my family. Pancreatitis is a life threatening condition. And it's incredibly painful. I remember that clearly.
My stay in the hospital was about a week. A week in which I lost 14 pounds. I was out of school for a month and could only eat bland foods, as my body healed itself. I lost a ton of weight, and it actually lit the fire for my wellness journey. From being the gal who ran from physical activity (and ate pretty much anything), I became obsessed with working out and eating very light. I would go to our school fitness center during my free period and my local gym on weekends, sometimes taking 2 classes a day. (Balance is something that’s taken me time to learn)
I went from being a 144 lb highschool freshman who was 1% body fat away from obese, to 117 lbs and kind of overboard with my fitness. A couple things to note here. With the weight loss did come more attention from guys (I was asked to prom and I got my first real boyfriend). But what also happened to show up at that time in my life was a huge sense of anxiety. Social anxiety like I have never known, and a struggle I’ve been challenged with ever since. The anxiety piece is a whole other beast and maybe can be shared in a separate blogpost.
What I want to close up with is this...while my weight has fluctuated since then, that trial was the starting point for my wellness journey. A journey that I am so grateful for. Being in good health didn’t come naturally or easy for me. My family wasn’t a bunch of health nuts, and I was clearly on a path to living life as an overweight, undermotivated women. This is not a post about weight. This is my story of how glad I am that I grew up chubby. I never would have understood the value of taking responsibility for my health had I grown up lean and healthy.
Our health and wellness is in our hands. There are loads of information out there that assist in finding best choices for our health, and many options for physical fitness. I am proud that I had to fight for my health, and continue to do so. I am happy to be on a journey that reminds me how big a part my mind plays in my body’s function. I am so very grateful for the body God gave me to live in and take care of. I don’t always make the best choices, but I understand what it takes and I plan to teach my children to value their body and health well.
If I can leave you with one thing, it would be this. Don’t take your health for granted. Fight for wellness, you deserve it; your kids deserve it. And if you’re not in love with the current state of your health or weight, grab a partner and start finding a path that works for you. I know several educated and sweet health professionals/mentors and I’d be happy to connect you. If you’d like to chat further, go ahead and email me.
Some of my favorite physical activities have included: Salsa Dancing, Hiking, Elliptical/Treadmill/Stairclimber at the gym, Group Exercise classes like Body Combat, Yoga, and Dance; Zumba, jogging, and I had a love/hate relationship with Crossfit. I also have got great results from home workouts via videos too.
I've tried eating paleo, and had my hand at various eating programs. The basics are simple; eat whole healthy foods, and spend more calories than you consume. Of course there are many different thoughts around diet, and I'm not here to tell you what's best for you. But I'm pretty sure eating fast food 7 days a week isn't going to lend itself to wellness. Finding an activity you enjoy and a balanced nutritious way of eating and you're off to a great start!
Your body is a temple. Love it. Honor it. Thank it.
I told you my weight has fluctuated through my life. College, babies, life..its all comes with different seasons. Do the best you can in the season you're in. Enjoy and love yourself. You are wonderfully made.
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Malia was born and raised in Kaneohe, Hawaii and graduated from Azusa Pacific University. She spent the majority of her career as an Early Childhood Education Teacher/Administrator.