09 Mar Confessions of a Chubby Girl
A monster lives inside every girl.
Sometimes it’s a big one that drowns out all the others.
Sometimes it’s not.
Sometimes it’s a crowd. Sometimes it’s just one. My biggest monster was a creative beast that craved chocolate and felt good if I drowned her in starch and, on occasion, an overabundance of exercise that cancelled out ALL those calories.
Then she spawned a piece of art I never anticipated.
The Chubby Girl Monster
By twelve years old, I was blatantly imperfect, flawed, and terribly insecure about it—like a lot of humans. So I did what any hormonal, emotional wreck-of-a-tween would do.
I turned to the loving, constant arms of food.
Brownies were a favorite, though I wouldn’t turn down Ben and Jerry’s or mozzarella sticks or any other battered goodness that I could just pop in the oven or microwave. Fistfuls of animal crackers? Perfect snack with a quart of sugary-sweet guava juice from concentrate. Mom cut up carrots and apple slices, but I dipped them in gobs of peanut butter.
Nutrition therapy at it’s finest.
Growing Up Chubby
Being a kid is hard enough, but being an overweight kid is even harder. Combine frizzy hair, an odd obsession with books, and an absent father, and I was a walking monster mine. By third grade, I knew I was a “big girl” because the other kids told me.
That’s when my whispering monster started.
I didn’t really notice the monster at first. I mean, I did. When you’re in fifth grade canvassing a room to see if you’re the biggest kid in there, you know something is different about you. But I didn’t really understand how much power the monster had until the cutting verbosity of seventh grade teenagers shredded holes in the curtain of my denial.
You need to be smaller, the monster would say. Look at how big you are.
I won’t get into details, but suffice it to say that kids and monsters are mean.
Learning to Wog.
Fortunately, I had many friends that loved me in spite of my mongster, one of them being the lean, red-haired, spit-fire Breanna. She invited me to jog with her one day when I was in 8th grade. Because I wanted her to like me and I wanted to be cool and svelte like her, I agreed.
The monster, for once, was quiet.
“Jogging” is an generous term for what I did. (see shuffle and walk.) But it didn’t matter. It was one of the first times that exercise felt good. Breanna didn’t make me feel like the fat kid, and helped me learn how to breathe through side cramps. Silencing the monster felt amazing.
“The world is much more clear after you run,” she pointed out one day. I remember blinking rapidly because she was right. Even my vision had came into sharper focus through the lens of exercise.
After profusely apologizing for being slow, I decided I could do more of this “running” and asked if we could go again the next day.
And the next.
It became our thing together. We’d run in the country by her grandpa’s house. We’d run along the canal. Through the neighborhood. At the cabin. Anywhere. My wog slowly turned into a trot, and then a jog, and eventually I could almost keep up with her on the sprints at the very end.
But never, ever did I beat her.
My monster reminded me all the time.
I’d love to tell you I slimmed down to a lean size 6, started a spinning class, and ate only sprouts and carrot sticks sans peanut butter, but it didn’t happen. Sometimes, my love of exercise cancelled out my greater love of food, but not enough to make me like myself. Or be actually healthy. In fact, I kind of went crazy on both in middle school.
In ninth grade I satisfied the monster and joined a gym. I’d work out for an 60-90 minutes after school. My favorite? Walking 4.0 mph on the treadmill until it maxed out at 100 minutes while reading cheesy romance novels.
Hey, I was exercising, so the monster was quiet. Then I could dream of being a damsel-in-distress. Remember, I was kind of bookish weird?
I went from a size 18 in seventh grade to a size 12-14 sometime in ninth. For the most part, I hung out around there. It was a far cry from the emotionally fragile seventh grader that had been made fun of so much, but my insecure monster still thrived, never satisfied. She chanted to me late at night.
Must get smaller. Must get smaller.
Not even exercise could silence the monster now.
After getting my RN at twenty and working as a pediatric nurse, my obsession with nutrition and exercise became my favorite hobby.
I dove into half marathons, marathons, centuries (100+ mile bike rides), snow shoeing, lots of hiking, and trail running with gusto. Did my weight drop? Nope. I leaned out, could hike like a boss, but the scale never seemed to go anywhere. I counted calories, drank water, avoided pop, and worked my butt off.
Not literally, of course.
Ever run 20 miles and watched the scale maintain? #[email protected]#$*(!%*(
Must get smaller, sang the monster. You’re still a size 14. Must do more. Must get smaller.
Figuring It Out
Thanks to other issues in my life, I started seeing a professional therapist and learned that food had *gasp* become the way I didn’t cope with my emotions. Truly, I’d never, ever, ever comprehended that food was an emotional escape. It seems to obvious to me now.
Not quite. Because no matter what, the monster reminded me that I still wasn’t smaller. Despite an active lifestyle, the pants size didn’t waver. My health was good, and I felt okay with how I looked. A veritable 3-4 on my self-diagnosed “Hotness Scale”.
Then I met the love of my life at 24 and suddenly my perception of health, self, and food took on a whole new meaning. The mega attractive, sarcastic, intelligent guy I was dating didn’t care that I was still imperfect, insecure, needed therapy, size 14, and loved California Pizza Kitchen to a fault.
He also didn’t know about that niggling monster who insisted you aren’t small enough for him.
Loving the Chubby Inside Me
Meeting my husband and realizing that he didn’t care about me being smaller threw everything I perceived about myself into question. I started realizing that I’m good enough just because I’m me, not because I measure up to some defined quality of beauty established by a magazine.
I’d love to tell you that I banished the ugly monster who controlled me like a puppet, who reminds me that my weight hovers dangerously close to Husband, that a wife should be smaller. I’m still not model size perfect and never plan to be. I still love CPK, and I still battle food cravings and the need to turn to food for comfort on a daily basis.
And I still have a monster inside me.
Write It Out
That monster is why I started writing Bon Bons to Yoga Pants. I knew I couldn’t be the only person to have a chubby girl monster, because there are skinny girl monsters, and straight hair monsters, and knobby knee monsters.
There are monsters for everything.
Lexie Greene is born from that insecure, flawed little girl I told you about at the beginning of the post. Like me, Lexie struggles with weight, she doesn’t want to diet, and when things get tough, she turns to Little Debbie. Lexie and I are not the same person; I love exercise and she tolerates it. She has a sister and I don’t. But we are the same insecure little girl with similar monsters.
We’re all fighting monsters. But that doesn’t mean we fight them alone.
We are perfect just the way we are.