Running like my life depended on it, I circled around my middle school building with fifty other girls determined to make our school’s track and field team. Personally, I was not hell bent on being a track star. However, all my friends were going out for the team and I certainly was not going to be the lone star taking the regular bus home directly after school. I never had played a sport beyond gym class and church picnics. Thus, consistently running laps for over an hour almost made me pass out. Not only was I overweight, but also the majority of my excess fat sat on my abdomen, an integral muscle for speed and agility. After years of Happy Meals, minimal exercise, and a pregnant-looking belly, I finally decided to get fit at age twelve.

While the decision primarily stemmed from the desire to be near my friends, I grew up listening to snide jokes about my chubby stomach, from both adults and children. I had been called everything from the Pillsbury Doughgirl, with people poking my belly for an extra laugh, to adults insisting that I must be pregnant even though I had not even experienced my first kiss. Thankfully, my family never tolerated or participated in the sarcasm. In fact, I credit my family with my body image confidence throughout the majority of my life. I remember being a young girl and wearing a size 6X, yet having no clue that X sizes were made for chubbier girls. I just assumed it was a regular size between 6 and 7. No one pressed my weight issue or forced me to exercise.

Despite my diet being horrible and refusing to adjust my fast food habit, I’m sure most of my relatives classified my chubby stomach as baby fat. As the years passed and the weight stayed, I realized that the fat might not disappear unless I took the initiative. Over the course of two years, I ran with my team, slowly watching my figure change and my weight decrease significantly. After countless track workouts, I emerged over 15 pounds lighter with a flat stomach and visible abdomen muscles. Everyone was shocked, including my family and former critics. Running track changed my life not only health wise, but also proved that fitness is possible with sweat, tears, and dedication.

Whenever I feel sluggish or out of shape, I take out my running shoes and practice the same exercise routines given to my team years ago. Track didn’t just teach me to run, but I also learned how to lift weights and sculpt other parts of my body. I discovered the difference between good and bad carbohydrates along with the best fruits to eat after a workout. And today, I could not be more thankful for the teaching and mentorship of my teammates and coaches. Without their motivation, I wouldn’t have made it through those years or maintained the shape that I’m in now.

I’ve talked to several people about my childhood weight loss journey, and most importantly, I’ve found that my story resonates with other young girls. I still maintain my post-track body and recommend that young girls experiencing weight issues pursue running based sports. I wish that I had signed up for track earlier or simply had a family that encouraged me to exercise. It definitely makes a difference and paves the way for a healthier adulthood.

Did you struggle with being overweight as a child? If so, how did you get in shape? Share your story and advice for other young people.

around the web

10 Comments

  1. Great article

    It’s sad that shaming was the motivation for you to lose weight. Kids indirectly (some directly) pick up such nasty habits from adults and adult programming (disguised as Nickelodeon and Disney). S/O to your family for being you’re foundation….

  2. Ok, I really like this site. I’m hooked. Brings back so many memories — Shedding tears 🙁

  3. Girl,
    I had weight issues growing up as well. I was always bigger than the other girls and started growing breasts at age 9. By 11, I was already shaped like a grown woman smh. People always assumed that I was having sex, grown men would leer and I eventually developed an eating disorder. It was awful. I blogged about that struggle but reading what other women went through is always a reminder that we are not alone in struggles that we sometimes think are uniquely ours. I’m glad you posted this. Great advice about running based sports too.

  4. This is so unfortunately real… We as parents have to continue to realize how important we are in our children’s vision of themselves. I was very sensitive to my kids “growing pains”.. I attribute this to my own challenges when I was between the ages of 12-16.

    Congratulations to Me and all of those who believe in sharing to support and change for the better…

    Hooked on Frugivore Mag…

  5. I realized the other day that I have been overweight for the majority of my lifetime. I still am. However, it has been my determination to break this unhealthy cycle that has lead to my success as of late. I have lost 51 lbs since January last year. I feel better than ever and feel like I actually just met myself for the first time.

    Peace and Light

  6. I WAS OVERWEIGHT MOST OF MY LIFE BUT I LEARNED THAT YOU CAN BE SKINNY AND STILL NOT BE HEALTHY, YOU HAVE TO LOSE IT THE RIGHT WAY (NOT DIET PILLS) AND IF YOU EAT HEALTHY…YOU WILL BE HEALTHY, EVEN IF YOUR NOT A SIZE 1, AND THAT IS SOMETHING I HAD TO LEARN THE HARD WAY….I WAS PARTIALLY TEASED AS I CHILD RARELY EVER TO MY FACE..I THINK MY SIZE INTIMIDATED PEOPLE BUT IT WASN’T UNTIL SOMEONE THAT MEANT ALOT TO ME AT THE TIME(EX) CALLED ME FAT AND MADE ME WANT TO CHANGE. I TURNED A NEGATIVE INTO A POSITIVE AND STARTED TO LOSE WEIGHT..IT FELT GREAT AND BOOSTED MY SELF ESTEEM. OF COURSE I LEFT HIM WITHIN THAT FIRST 5 LBS OF WEIGHTLOSS…..LOL BUT GOOD HEALTH COMES FROM WHAT WE CONSUME….FOOD IS OUR MEDICINE….I FEEL MYSELF GAINING BACK MY NATURAL ENERGY NOW THAT I EAT BETTER, NON PROCESSED FOODS.THERE IS TRULY HEALING IN FOOD.

  7. Seeing that we grew up in the same pseudo-household I never would have guessed that about your journey. I haven’t really struggled with weight. My struggle is being the same. I’ve never been the skinny or fat boy. I’ve always been “average” or in the middle. At times I want to lose weight then times I want to gain to tone. I was really confused growing up so I just let my body do what it wanted to do. I was blessed to be surrounded by people who actually cooked- not just greasy foods but healthy foods. That’s a huge factor for children growing. It’s a resource that just isn’t there anymore.

  8. i’ve always had problems with my body. i hit puberty very early so i immediately started to put a bit of weight on and became very body conscious as my body was changing in a way all the girls around me didn’t for a few years. as i became uncomfortable in my body, i became uncomfortable with swimming, running and other sports that i had previously loved. my parents didn’t help either as all i ever heard was how fat i was – i went through phases where i had eating disorders, then just woud retreat into something unhealthy. in resistance to my parents/families taunts i put on a ‘curvy girls win’ front which wasn’t always true for me. i’m still far too body conscious and i know even as i’m shedding the pounds i will never be skinny – i naturally have hips/thighs/breasts that i have to become comfortable with somehow., i’ve started eating healthier, going to the gym regularly and trying to create a healthy body image for myself but Lord knows its hard. I never realize how learning to love all of you was so crucial in maintaining confidence and esteem in all other areas of your life!

Leave a Reply to Xena Cancel reply