Growing Up Bigger Than My Peers
The first time I remember being aware of how much I weighed was in 3rd grade. Though it may be hard to believe at my full-grown 5’1” stature, I was 4’10” and definitely wore at least an A cup bra at only 8 years old. I could share a size 6 women’s shoe with my mom who was just 4’11” herself. I was basically the size of my mom at 8 years old, just with smaller boobs!
I never realized how different I was from my 3rd grade peers until the dreaded day in gym class where all of us were lined up to complete height and weight with the school nurse. It was at that moment that I looked around and realized how much bigger I was in all aspects. Everyone came back to sit down sharing their weight laughing and comparing, but at that moment I knew when it was my turn it wouldn’t be so fun.
At just 8 years old I weighed 102 pounds. Thinking about the fact that I was nearly full grown, 102 pounds isn’t very much, but being a 3rd grade girl and weighing that much wasn’t normal. Instead of recognizing that my weight matched my height and overall size, from that day forward I was extremely self-conscious, especially throughout my school years.
As I continued to age, my height came to a halt in 6th grade. I played sports so my activity level kept me more fit, but I always weighed more than my friends. Once I was out of high school and no longer had the competitive sports to keep me active along with the introduction of alcohol and college cafeteria food, my weight skyrocketed. I didn’t have any control over my consumption and I gave into my constant fears of being the “bigger one” in the group.
Realizing My Why
At age 24 I was nearly 225 pounds. I knew I needed to lose weight, to get healthier but it was difficult to find motivation. In July 2014 my aunt, who was only 52, was in the hospital which eventually lead to her premature death just a few months later in September. I remember traveling back to Pennsylvania and going to visit her. Though our time together was as normal as most of our interactions, despite the setting, I looked at her lying in the hospital bed, extremely overweight and sick, unable to do many normal things on her own, things that we should be able to do to live a normal and full life. It broke my heart but it also scared me. Though I wasn’t close to her weight, I just turned 25 and was roughly 225 pounds. At that rate I was seeing a very similar fate.
That visit is really what set my weight loss journey in motion. It gave me my why. I want to live longer, I want to live healthier, not confined to a bed, not at the will of when others can or will help me. I want to help myself. I want to be able to move on my own, rub my own feet, wipe my own ass. I have bigger dreams for myself and I don’t want an unhealthy weight to be the demise of my future.
I was so sad my aunt lost her life so early. I am grateful for what she taught me and showed me. It was the motivating factor that had been missing. Sometimes now, even 8 years later, I come back to that initial why to remind me that the short-term sacrifice of beer or ice cream is worth the long-term changes. There have been other similar experiences over the years that remind me of why I want to live a healthier life. Both my parents have had heart issues that have wound them up in the hospital under the age of 60. Seeing them struggle with their health at such a young age deters me from the excuses. There are days that aren’t great; I’m nowhere near perfect, but having that substantial why to drive me has made all the difference. I only get one life and I want to live it to my fullest.
Tell me, what’s your why?
Author: Dana Perich, Lifestyle Mentor