I want to start out by saying I am not writing this post to make people feel sorry for me. My weight has been something I have struggled with since I can even remember. My mom was forced to potty train me just after I turned two because I was getting too big for diapers. I was always the big girl in the back of the class school picture, and I wore cartoon character T-shirts from the ladies’ section on the first day of school rather than the cute little outfits my female peers wore. I wore a ladies’ size 16 when I was in fifth grade which made me considerably larger than most of my peers’ mothers, and before the days of digital photos when you could conveniently hit the delete button right after the picture was taken, I hated to see what was waiting for me when I opened the envelope from the one-hour photo developing center. While many times these kind of posts come with horrible stories of bullying and self-loathing, I actually do not have many of these tales to tell. There were a few times when I was called fat. I was never asked to dance at school dances, and I didn’t have a boyfriend until I was 17 years old. Once again, while these statements may cause you to make a frowny face and say, “Awww,” that is not my intention in writing this. I want you to laugh with me because that is what I have learned to do. I also want to make it clear that I don’t blame anyone but myself for my weight problem. I secretly knew that my family worried about my expanding waistline, but they never really showed it. My parents made a point to emphasize how smart I was and that I was beautiful. My younger sister was really sensitive about my weight. She has never had a weight problem. She was always skinny when she was a little girl, and then as she got older, she would eat whatever she wanted while her stomach stayed hard and flat. She never persecuted me for my weight problem unless she really wanted to hurt my feelings which more times than not, I probably deserved because of my own older-sister torturing directed at her. When she was really young, I remember seeing the pain in her eyes when she told me a story about when she was staying with my grandmother and grandfather. An older lady from my grandfather’s church came up to her and asked her if she was Hanna. When she said no and that she was Hanna’s younger sister, the lady said “Oh yeah, Hanna’s the fat one.” In the earlier days, those kind of remarks would tear me up inside, but I didn’t let it show. My mother comes from a large family, and I had quite a few cousins to hang out with. Most of them are girls, and of course all of them were thin. However, they never made fun of me. We would go to the pool, and they would wear their cute little two-piece bathing suits while I emerged with my grandma one-piece. While most pre-teen girls loved shopping for clothes, I absolutely loathed it. I would start sweating in the fitting room and pray that the clothes I was about to try on would fit because I didn’t want to confess that I needed to go up a size because that size probably did not exist but more importantly, I didn’t want to feel like a failure. I remember being able to miraculously fit into an X-Large shirt from the Juniors’ Department at JcPenney the summer before my sixth-grade school year. I wore that damn shirt until it got holes in the armpits because it was one of the only shirts I owned that was somewhat fashionable. When I think back to these times, I remember how hard it was to be the “fat girl,” but I also think of how much stronger it has made me. I could always hold my own about other things, but the minute I was called fat, the tears would well up in my eyes, and I would not be able to fight back. The threat of being deemed “fat” now really doesn’t bother me.
As I got older, I would think of ways to diet or exercise, and sometimes I would lose quite a bit of weight. Of course, once I got tired of my regiment, the weight would come back with a vengeance. When I started my first “real job” at the cabinet company I worked at for seven years, I quickly figured out how incredibly easy it is to gain weight when the only movement your body engages itself in all day is picking up the phone or rolling your wheelie chair over to your printer to pick up your pages. Also, it is very easy to snack when you’re sitting on your ass all day, not to mention, there are many options available in the vending machine that will add to your always-expanding booty and waist. When I went to the doctor, it got real. The worst part of going to the doctor for me has never been the possible shots, poking and prodding or sitting in the waiting room for an hour after your appointment was set for, it was stepping on that humongous scale and watching the nurse keep moving the balance weight over. Ugh, it was torment. Well, this time, the scale finally balanced at a weight I was not proud of. Oh well, something must be wrong with the scale or maybe I drank too much water that morning. I told myself that until I talked to the tiny, in-shape Nurse Practitioner, and she shamed my weight. Okay, so then I decided to do something. I made better choices and began walking faithfully every night. I even bought one of those goofy-looking headband, headlight things so I could walk after work when the time changed and it got dark earlier. Soon, I began noticing a difference, and my clothes began to bag off of me. It was rewarding. About a year after that revelation, I found myself being separated from my first husband which only added to the weight falling off of me. I remember the power I felt when I squeezed myself into some of my sister’s clothes, and confidence came easier. I vowed that I would never put myself in the situation that I was at that dreadful doctor’s appointment. Easier said than done. Once I began dating my present husband, our dates would always involve eating out plus I was a Buyer so I had vendors offering to take me to lunch at least once a week. Then, there were the days when I would be so ravenous when it was time for my lunch break, going to eat a full bowl of chips and salsa along with an entrée with my work peeps would be tempting and more times than not, I would give in. The weight soon began to creep back, but I would put my slowly tightening work clothes on in the morning, and I started having to add a full squat to my getting-ready-for-work routine to stretch them to where I didn’t feel like I was going to explode. Every now and then, I would implement some sort of fad diet that would result in the loosening of my clothes again, but that would usually last only a couple of weeks. Then in April of 2013, I learned I was pregnant with my first child. I had actually been trying to get pregnant for about four months, but it became a reality when I took three pregnancy tests, and they were all positive. The regular Hanna was elated! A baby! I was going to be a mother. The fat Hanna; however, was scared to death. I had heard horror stories of people I thought to be naturally skinny ballooning out and not being able to lose the baby weight. I knew there was nothing I could do about gaining weight. I was supposed to gain weight to ensure I had a healthy baby and a successful pregnancy. I did not want to put my baby in danger by implementing one of my crazy diets so I just had to accept it. Okay, so I would eat healthily, engage myself in regular exercise, and I committed that my diet would begin the day my baby came into the world. At first, I was very faithful to this regiment. I felt somewhat queasy the first few months so I really did not eat a lot, I managed to make wise decisions, and I would come home from work and walk on my treadmill. Actually, I didn’t gain much weight the first few months. I gained what the doctor said was the healthy amount to gain, and I wore my regular jeans until I was about five months pregnant. Well then came that doctor’s appointment when I was about six months pregnant, and I had begun to wear those very forgiving maternity jeans with the big spandex panel in the front. Also, I was no longer feeling the queasiness I had felt earlier so shoveling food with exorbitant amounts of calories and carbs was no longer a problem. I was ashamed to find out I had gained a whopping twenty pounds in the course of a month. I remember crying when my sister posted pictures of my first baby shower because I closely resembled an elephant, and my husband looked like he had to struggle to even fit in the frame of the pictures. I ended up having four baby showers throughout the course of my pregnancy, and the pictures only got worse. I was surprised I was even able to walk at my last baby shower. Plus, I didn’t even look pregnant until I was a good seven months along. I just looked like an overweight woman stuffing chips, Mexican sweet bread, and baby shower cake into her mouth. I wanted to be one of those cute pregnant women: The ones that wore their regular jeans up until the drive to the hospital and would have to unbutton the top button when they hit nine months. Ugh…nope, not in the cards for me. I gained weight EVERYWHERE. Of course I gained in my mid-section, but I also gained weight in my thighs, my arms, and my face looked like I had stuck my head in a raging beehive. I don’t think I could smile and see at the same time. When I would smile for a picture, my bloating cheeks would push my eyes into thin slits that looked like they were drawn on my face with a Sharpie. My feet looked like sausages by the end of the day which led to my purchasing some amazing Skechers that were so squishy comfortable, and they allowed my feet to swell without cutting off the circulation to the sausages. Fashionable they were not, but I didn’t give a flying you-know-what by that time. I rocked them with my stretchy pregnancy leggings, and my very-stretchy BIG maternity jeans I was forced to buy by the last couple of months. When I got home from work, I could not wait to take my big-mama bra off and change into my huge sports bra and stretchy shorts. By the time I waddled into the hospital on December 19th to be induced, I was tipping the scales at a weight I had never seen even in my fattest days. Little did I know that after my adorable child was born, the fear of losing weight would be pushed to the back of my mind. I was responsible for a gorgeous, healthy baby boy, and I did not have time to worry about losing the many pounds that had appeared during my pregnancy. I lost about thirty pounds almost immediately, but those last twenty pounds lingered and lingered. I tried to be active. I attempted to limit my caloric intake, but I was also breast-feeding so I had to eat a specific amount of calories, or my always-hungry little man would have nothing to eat. After I stopped breast-feeding, I thought the weight might come off on its own. HA! NO! I still was holding onto those ugly twenty pounds. Then came the day when I learned I would be moving to Mexico. Little did I know that this would be the best post-baby diet ever. When we got to San Miguel de Allende, with all the walking, puking and crappy food, I was gradually reaching my pre-pregnancy weight and oh….wait for it….passing my pre-pregnancy weight up and becoming smaller than I was before I got pregnant! With all the stress that went with living in a foreign country, I was secretly feeling pretty accomplished for my weight loss. Also, there are way fewer unhealthy options here. The chocolate I have eaten tastes like chalk, and the grocery stores didn’t stock aisles and aisles of boxes and bags of those processed foods I loved in the U.S. The frozen food section was a complete disappointment. Along with being considerably more expensive because most of the foods were imported from the U.S., in my opinion, it lacked some very important food options. What was wrong with these people? Had they never felt the intense joy of bubbly pizza rolls? Had they ever tasted the goodness of microwavable hot wings with 1000 calories worth of ranch dressing poured over them? Did they not know the happiness that went with throwing a 99 cent frozen pizza into the oven and only having to wait eleven minutes to scarf the whole thing down? On particularly fancy nights, had they had the feeling of purchasing a huge pizza from the Wal-Mart deli and crediting themselves as talented chefs after throwing it into the oven for twenty minutes because they added a few of their own ingredients to it? So I no longer had my huge bags of chips with canned bean dip and a jar of cheese dip, I no longer had my boxed pasta salad nor did I have my fore-mentioned frozen goodies so I taught myself to eat what was offered which was also much healthier. The fresh eggs and rich fruits and vegetables taste good now. I snack on things like corn and garbanzo beans instead of salty, sugary processed snacks. I do; however, occasionally miss the feeling of a good 12,000 calorie meal so there are always those anticipated trips home where I can indulge in my missed foods.
I am thirty years old, but I can honestly say that I think bigger ladies are more accepted now than they were fifteen years ago. In the media, there are many curvy women in show business along with the music industry. Of course, I wonder how they can be so curvy or “thick” and have absolutely no flab. Is that possible? Who knows, but I guess if I made millions of dollars a year, I would find a way to make myself curvy and tight…very tight. Oh and there’s always the magic of Spanx. I will be honest, I love Spanx. I had a pair of pregnant woman Spanx for when I hit the whale stage of my pregnancy, and before I gave birth, I made sure I had my regular Spanx ready. Thank goodness for that act of preparation. I did not know at that time that I would be having a C-Section, and C-Section bellies can be quite horrendous right after giving birth. Mine definitely was. Spanx are also helpful for someone like me whose weight has yo-yoed so much that now I have a lovely amount of jiggly skin that doesn’t quit. I could weigh 100 pounds and probably still have jiggly thighs and flabby arms. Oh well, I tell myself that although I may jiggle a bit, I am healthier now than I have probably ever been. With that being said, I will probably always hate stepping on the scale. Even when I have tortured myself with fad diets or even come close to starving, I have never been able to get below 150 pounds which classifies me as still being “overweight” according to those stupid charts in the doctor’s office. I choose to disregard all the charts and all the rigamarole. I hate to sound cliché, but people come in all shapes and sizes, and while many may disagree, I think the media and Hollywood are actually doing a good job at enforcing this. Do I still hate seeing a perfectly shaped lady on TV after she has had like 10 kids and has a full-time job? Yes, but I think to myself, if I worked out like she did or had the willpower to only eat raw vegetables, and had enough money to visit my plastic surgeon regularly, I might look like that too. I also tend to think how unhappy these “perfect women” must be not being able to actually enjoy eating, but most likely they are not unhappy because they probably don’t have the same addiction to food as I have. As you may have noticed, I love to eat! If I’m hungry, I become monstrous. My husband says when I’m hungry, I become “beechy,” which is the word “bitchy” paired with a Mexican accent. It’s all relative as well. To one person, I may be a fat heifer, to another, I may be a little chubby and could stand to lose fifteen more pounds, and to another person, I may be considered a thin woman–I am still waiting on this person to come forward……just kiddin’…….kind of. With that being said, the purpose of my writing this is to clue people in on this part of my journey. Although weight-loss and weight-management was once a large part of my life, it’s not so important to me anymore. I have learned through many, many acts of trial and error what I need to do to maintain a healthy lifestyle. I may not always look great in a bathing suit nor will I ever be able to turn down those certain foods I have mentioned above. The fear of gaining 100 pounds overnight haunts me and probably always will. Although it has always been a dream of mine, I will never be one of those people who can eat anything and stay thin. It will always be a struggle, but what is important is that I am healthy and happy being the person I am.