Chubby. Big-made. Fat. Generously proportioned. Huge. Cuddly. Wide. These adjectives have never bothered me. I have been ‘big-made’ almost my entire life, my skin is more-or-less impervious to these terms…
As a child my cheeks have been squeezed so much, they ceased to be my cheeks. I have been told that ‘puppy-fat’ will diminish. I have been compared to thinner cousins, and asked (in shock),”how come you’re not like them?” My weight has never been a non-issue (to me), until recently when it became a threat. When that cushion and padding became something that threatened to ‘do me in’. Literally.
I’m writing this because obesity is an issue, and while I am definitely not slim nor thin right now I’m almost 20kgs lighter than what I was just a mere year ago. I’m writing this because I know many women, like myself, who are tired and exhausted, and find immense comfort in food. I’m writing this because I want my daughter to know that I tried to be healthy and fit, for her sake and her brother’s. I’m writing this because I want women out there to know that I never thought I’d be that girl; the one who counts calories and exercises religiously – but I am, and I am glad.
Being pregnant is every fat girl’s dream. Seriously. My first pregnancy came along just after months of starvation and forced periods of quasi-exercise in order to please Uncle Michael and the plethora of people who would attend my wedding. Also, vainly I felt one must look a little pretty on the most-important-day-of-your-life thingy. I became a pro at the dieting game. I walked on Marine Drive, because you need some exercise no? I was however, monumentally lazy and dieting was just convenient and easy. To hell with the hangry headaches. Anyway, pregnancy was a dream. Food. Everywhere food. Morning sickness was minimal, plus did I mention the food? And no guilt trips! From anyone! Then I got Gestational Diabetes and refused to put myself on Insulin. So I annoyingly put myself on yet another diet, and walked a bit mainly because the health of my unborn child depended on this. Breastfeeding brought on a hunger like no other. Maybe it’s just me, but man did I pack on the pounds. I’d be tired, sleepy and ravenous. Before I even thought of losing the baby weight, I was pregnant again. Running around behind a one-year-old increased my stamina a little, but the trend of eating-for-comfort continued.
I can now look back and, in retrospect, state that after my daughter was born the quality of my life deteriorated. By the time my daughter was 2 years old I was 98kgs. I was the heaviest I’d ever been; before I gave birth to my daughter I only weighed only 96kg. I hid my weight. I began wearing my mother’s old clothes, too ashamed to go out and buy new clothes. I didn’t let myself be photographed. I avoided going out. Weddings were the worst. I think we avoided so many weddings, we don’t get invited to any more. When well meaning strangers commented on my weight I’d get defensive and say something like, “fat people are happy people”. Clearly I was not happy. I’d sit with a book, after having a dinner of soup at 6pm (because I’m trying to lose weight no?), and then stuff my face with McDonald’s, Pizza Hut or KFC just before my husband would come home, and then proceed to elaborately hide the paper bags and boxes from the prying eyes of Kusuma, who would tattle on me to my mother.
If no one saw me eating, then it didn’t count. Yes yes laugh at my stupidity.
In November 2015, I had a cold that wouldn’t go away. It was the 4th or 5th in the line of infections and I was sick and tired of inhalers, and medication. My colds and coughs melded into each other and would not go away. I saw a plethora of Doctors, to no avail. My mother took me to see a grumpy old doctor in Wellawatta, for whom we had to wait 2 hours to consult. I have never been yelled at, like I was by that Doctor. I never went to see him again (my fear of him is strong). He told me that my PCOS was worse. I was a likely candidate for Ovarian Cancer (because I couldn’t remember the last time I had my period); he told me the lack of menstruation put me at higher risk for a heart attack; he said I was obviously pre-diabetic; he told me my colds and coughs were because my lungs were weak and there was so much fat in there it was probably an issue; he told me I should put my affairs in order because if I continue on this trend I would never see 40, and I should try to live unto 35.
Now I exercise with a Personal Trainer thrice a week, and I run twice a week. I don’t binge eat. When I eat from McDonald’s of KFC now, I purge. I take my Metformin regularly, to control my PCOS because I’m no longer Pre-diabetic. My cramps every month are gone, my cycle is back to normal. My underarms are not black and lumpy. My sweat doesn’t smell sickly sweet. My neck doesn’t have as many rolls as it used to. My hump between my shoulders is almost gone. I longer buy 2XL clothes, but L sized clothes. I haven’t gotten a cold since June. I can wear my wedding ring again. I have more energy than I’ve ever had. I’m not on any more crazy diets. I still enjoy food, I just know how hard it is to lose it. I need to exercise every weekday or I feel fat. I’m happier than I’ve ever been. I work out with my 5 year old and my 3 year old because I want them to know that while I am doing this for myself, I’m also doing this because I want to show them what it means to be healthy.
For the mother who thinks she has no time; for the mother who is exhausted at the end of the day; for the mother secretly binging when her children and husband are in bed; for the mother who cannot wear a single piece of clothing she owned pre-pregnancy; for the mother whose kids have started school and doesn’t know where to start – I’ve been there. I feel you. It’s so hard sometimes. Many women don’t struggle with weight after childbirth , they manage to lose most of it (miraculously sometimes). Many women lose weight when they breastfeed. Many women are already very conscious of their weight and size and take steps to mitigate a sudden weight gain. Yet there are those of us who don’t. Who can’t. Who forget about the weight because everything is new and overwhelming and at that moment your weight seems like the least important thing. Please know that it isn’t. Know that you are not done. You need to be there for your kids. To run and play, to shout and scream, to climb a few trees, jump a few trampolines. You may be older but you have to give them the illusion of youth and vibrance so that they go out there and they’re active. I didn’t do that initially. I don’t have many regrets, but I regret not starting a little sooner.
I hope this helps.