During my first pregnancy, I packed on nearly 80 pounds. At my highest weight I got up to 246 pounds. I weighed more than some NFL football players. I know, because I used to look up their statistics and think, "Oh my God! I'm as big as that?"
The worst part is I never really looked pregnant, rather like I over-sparkled with a fork. I put the weight on everywhere. There was no cute little belly bump. I grew all over.
From the ages of six to 22, I was an athlete. From junior high on I worked out at least two hours a day, five to six times a week. I rode my bike everywhere. In the off-season I ran miles, swam, and played pickup basketball. I was always in great shape and never thought much about what I ate or how I looked. I had confidence and my body was strong.
When I got pregnant I threw caution to the wind and ate whatever the heck I wanted. Well, that was after the first five months of throwing up. Once the morning sickness waned I scarfed down milk shakes and fried chicken!
After my son was born I thought the weight would miraculously come off. Wrong.
I remember being at one of my first play dates and having another mother say to me, "Well you know, us plus-sized girls have a harder time finding things that fit."
Was she talking to me? In my entire life I had never been considered "plus" and it was somewhat shocking for me to identify as such. Later that year when trying on dresses for a wedding I came out of the dressing room and a woman said to me, "You really shouldn't wear colorful prints like that, you are a big girl."
I retreated to my stall, horrified.
I stopped wanting to go out. I was embarrassed by how I looked. I couldn't fit into any of my clothes and had no desire to shop for new frocks. I isolated myself and didn't want anyone to see me.
It certainly didn't help when friends and family would say things like, "I've seen other women bounce back after pregnancy, why can't you?" or "You used to have such a cute figure."
In an effort to reclaim my body I signed up for a 5K and ended up tearing my meniscus that required surgery.
I was miserable. It wasn't until after my second baby and returning to work that the weight started to come off. I became too busy with two children and a full-time job to eat the leftovers off of my kid's plates. I stopped the emotional and mindless eating cycle, driven by my loneliness and need for instant gratification fueled by food.
Today I'm nowhere near my pre-baby body. I was always around a size 6/8, flat stomach and toned muscles. I'm now a comfortable size 10. I'm no Bo Derek "10," but I'm content. I have a "pouty lip" that hangs at the bottom of my abdomen where my two babies were born via c-section.
I have a geographical map of stretch marks that span across my tummy, too.
My hips will never go back to where they were, nor will my feet for that matter.
Being overweight didn't change the core of me. I was still the same loving, caring, fun person inside. But the reaction of people around me about my weight was eye opening. People's words hurt. I've never been one to judge someone else based on how they look but at how they treat me, or their actions.
A person's size doesn't determine one's worth. Was I less of a person over 200 pounds than I am now? Of course not.
I would be lying if I said being large and in charge didn't bother me. It didn't feel right for me. But that's not to say that another woman isn't completely comfortable being a plus-sized gal.
We all need to find the body that works best for us and don our colorful prints with confidence regardless of the shape we're in.