How I Said Goodbye To My Chubby Inner Child
Pretty much all my adult life I’ve wanted to lose 10 pounds.
I always thought I was fat. Or maybe not fat, but chubby, plump. And I loved to eat. As a kid I was always the child my grandmother liked to feed because I was happy to “eat up” everything on my plate.
Being chubby and loving to eat did not go well with my other passion, loving to dance. I started ballet at age 6 and danced till I was over 40. Throughout my entire dancing career, I struggled with not having a “dancer’s body” (tall and thin) and loving to eat, drink and basically have a good time.
Moving to the US from Jamaica at age 13 didn’t help, where my ideas about having to be skinny seemed to take root. Here’s a self-portrait taken from my diary, written at age 14, a year after we moved.
To make things worse, I was also well endowed, which didn’t typically jive with being a serious professional dancer. I remember being thrilled to see a large breasted woman on stage in a Broadway musical once and thinking wow, that could be me! Having big boobs didn’t have to prevent me from dancing on stage.
It also didn’t help that most of my girlfriends were pretty skinny and flat chested.
Over the years, I dieted and dieted. I tried the grapefruit diet, the Atkins diet, the only-hard-boiled-eggs diet and many others. I lost a few pounds here and there, but it never seemed to be enough.
The reality was I wasn’t fat. I was just not skinny.
It has taken me the better part of 20 years to finally come to terms with my body and to accept and be happy with my assets, the large (boobs, butt, thighs) and small (stature — I’m 5’3”).
I eventually lost 20 pounds in my early 50s, which took me 2 years- I went from 145 to 125 pounds.
I was finally motivated enough to really lose weight due to my escalating blood pressure and my not wanting to go on meds. (Losing weight and changing my diet has enabled me to stay off blood pressure medication- I’ll write about this too).
Today I am more or less in a place where I accept my body as it is- finally! (I’m now 53).
As I look back on my journey, all the time I spent on crazy diets and on not liking what I saw in the mirror seems like such a waste of emotional energy. If I could go back and tell my 18-year-old self one thing, it would be to spend more time working on accepting myself as I was, rather than fighting with myself to lose weight.
I was never actually unhealthily overweight but I just couldn’t ever quite be content with what I saw in the mirror. Back then, I mostly thought if only I could lose 10 pounds, then I would be happy!
It’s still a struggle some days. Sometimes I just feel fat for no apparent reason and feel like maybe I should go back on a diet, cut out carbs, fast or take some such drastic and generally unnecessary action.
But, thankfully, those days happen less often. Most of the time, I manage to be happy with myself the way I am, just trying to eat well, enjoying in moderation all the food I like to eat. Sometimes I overdo it, but instead of super beating myself up, I just try to do better the next day.
So, I’m sharing this just to say, that self-acceptance for me has been a journey. But a journey that has eventually brought me to a place of relative calm and peace with myself.
I look back on my 1979 self-portrait and feel a bit sad about that little girl who always thought she was fat. But I’m also encouraged by the awareness that although my body really hasn’t changed all that much my mind certainly has.