Escaping the Weight of it All

After a whirlwind year, I decided to take a break from blogging and work to focus on my family and myself. So, I took three weeks off and spent almost the entire time in my pajamas, ignoring work emails that could wait until I returned in January, and watched hours of mindless TV. I think my IQ dropped 10 points while I was on vacation, but it was so worth it!

During this time, I also focused on making changes toward a healthier lifestyle and becoming a better me. I chose to make this change not only for myself, but also for my boys who deserve a mom who has the energy to run around with them, and for my husband who has never known what it is like to be married to someone who is healthy and of a normal weight.

The program I have been using to track my calorie intake and exercise also offers a community component that comes in the form of social networking (think Facebook) as well as message boards. This is a very popular program, and people from all over the world use it to help them lose, maintain, and even gain weight.

A couple of weeks ago, I was reading some forum posts when I came across a thread about Asians trying to lose weight. Naturally, I was intrigued, so I started reading. By the second thread post, I was counting my blessings. I read through nine pages of thread posts and was completely speechless by the time I read the last one. The thread was full of posts from primarily women and teenaged girls who shared stories of being openly ridiculed and shamed by their families for being even the slightest bit overweight. There were women who were barely 100 pounds soaking wet who were struggling to lose weight. They considered themselves fat and endured comments daily from family members who constantly reminded them of how overweight they were. The posters who actually were considered overweight by American standards were made to feel worthless, and were often told that they had shamed their families because they were fat. Many of the posters who were currently single were told by their relatives that they would never marry or find anyone to love them because they were too fat.

When I finished reading the thread, the first thing that came to mind was, “Thank God I grew up in America.” I realize this is not exactly appropriate, but I couldn’t help but think that way. I couldn’t shake the feelings of guilt when I thought about how different my story may have been had I grown up in Korea, rather than in the U.S. The societal pressure may have kept me from gaining the weight in the first place, or it may have had the opposite effect and pushed me to gain even more weight. I just could not ignore the fact that I was the only one on that thread who had not lived with the familial pressure to be a certain size or look a certain way, and I was the only one who didn’t have ties to my Asian family. I am not saying that one way is right or one way is wrong. I just know what has been best for me.

I never really had issues with my weight growing up. I was never considered thin, but I always fell within the normal range for my weight. I didn’t truly have issues with my weight until I was pregnant with my oldest son. I gained a fairly normal amount of weight during my pregnancy, but I never was able to completely lose all of the weight I had gained. I started at an unhealthy weight with my youngest son, and ended up at an even higher weight after he was born. The weight stuck, and I made no attempt to change the situation I had created for myself.

My family watched me eat my way to obesity, but they continued to make me feel loved and valued and beautiful. I don’t fault them for this in any way, as nobody forced me to eat, and anyone who knows me knows that the situation probably would have been ten times worse had someone told me how fat and ugly I had truly become. When I think about it, I love them even more for never losing sight of the fact that I have always been the same person they know and love, even though I had become twice the size I was meant to be.

Things really changed for me late last year. I had always avoided having a family photo taken because I was ashamed of the way I looked. Being a photographer and having two of the cutest kids in the world were always my excuses as to why our Christmas cards never included a family photo. After much deliberation, I decided to ask a photographer friend of mine to take our family photo. I psyched myself up for the session and was actually pretty excited about it. My friend did an absolutely wonderful job and we truly could not have asked for a better first family session. However, when we received the photos, I was so incredibly embarrassed and ashamed of how fat I looked in them. My husband is handsome and athletic, and my sons are healthy and absolutely adorable. And then, there’s me. The photos were absolutely beautiful, but I felt that I had ruined them all simply by being in them. It was also around that time when I started getting comments about my weight. They were nothing that any overweight person hasn’t heard, but they hurt, nonetheless.

On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, I vowed to lose weight and get healthy, and I haven’t looked back since. I have been counting calories and exercising religiously, and I am proud to say that, two months later, I have lost almost 20 pounds. I still have about 25 pounds left to lose, but I am proud of how far I have come after two months of hard work and dedication. Hearing my husband tell me that he is proud of me and hearing my youngest son say, “Mom, you used to be fat, but you’re not anymore,” is just the icing on the cake for me.

My family has never pressured me into losing weight, nor have they ever made me feel bad about being overweight. They have been a major source of support for me on this weight loss journey, and I feel very blessed to have been able to make this decision for myself. I count my blessings for having been raised in a family where the emphasis was placed on being a good person, striving to reach my full potential, and helping others, not on being a certain size or looking a certain way. I’ve spent my life doing my inner work and becoming someone I can honestly say that I like. I am looking forward to working on my outer self and breaking free of the shame I’ve felt for years—the shame that has kept me from being the mom, wife, and person I know I can be.

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4 thoughts on “Escaping the Weight of it All

  1. Good for you! My heartiest encouragement 🙂 I had to lol (ruefully) at the fat-shaming you described. I am half-Chinese, adopted domestically by (full) Chinese parents (if my life were a movie, it’d be subtitled “Not your typical adoption”) I have been shamed since childhood for being too big, too fat, unhealthy, not taking care of my body, not providing a worthy home for my brain (because being smart is more important than being thin, but being fat is almost worst than being dumb) etc etc all because “they just love me” and “want what’s best for me” So. It’s not necessarily about where you grew up, but it is about the culture of your parents. (I’m a grown women with two kids of my own and they still ask me if I’m eating healthy and exercising. It drives me up the $^%&# wall, so if my bitterness showed through, I’m sorry, I just had to comment!!)

  2. anonymous says:

    Hi Christina,

    Good luck with your journey and bless your family for never giving our grief about your appearance. Thus, it is absolutely understandable, that you feel grateful you were brought up in America.

    Forgive the rant…

    I lived in Mainland China and the girls were incredibly thoughtful, speaking to me in English. However, these girls also think they’re fat… it is so sad. It was evident, that many Chinese mothers are cruel, psychologically abusing by their daughters, for MANY ridiculous things, including being apparently fat, having a darker skin tone, small eyes etc… These stories make the “Tiger mother” stereo type seem wonderful. It’s such a shame, that these mothers take out their jealousy and insecurities on their daughters. Sadly, they are probably victims too and were also brought up this way.

    Over and over, I found myself saying, “No go the West… you’ll see fat” (Apologies to Westerners reading this). It is a very sad and vicious cycle indeed. However, to be fair, you get mean & wonderful mothers everywhere. My mum (Caucasian & overweight) has always picked on my sister (korean adoptee) for her weight. Our mother is abusive, cruel and horrible. She has often relished saying “Go back to Korea! koreans are a race amongst themselves!”. Another favorite saying – “Your father (adoptive) NEVER wanted you”, which she still feels the right to say, as recently as late 2012. Yes, she even types this to me via Face Book “Your father never wanted your sister”. Nonetheless, I am amazed at how positive and open my sister is, in regards to being adopted and her Korean ethnicity.

    Regarding your “inner work”. Absolute Happiness by Michael Rowland is a gem… please do read.

    No matter what your weight, you are gorgeous…

    🙂

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