This is pretty long, just a warning ;)Just like Lacey and the other girls, I have my own story to tell.
I was a pretty chubby kid. I'd go to Japan to visit my grandparents every summer and they'd spoil me. Not like an "oh you're so spoiled because they let you stay up ten minutes later than your parents", but an "I got every tiny thing I asked for" spoiled. I was the oldest child of their only child and it was their right and I wasn't complaining ;) One of the things I remember, I LOVED to ride the train because we didn't have those opportunities in Hawaii or a little town outside of San Diego (both of the places I grew up). So I'd say let's ride the train and my grandparents would concede even though it meant my grandma or obachan would ride the train with me and then my ojichan (grandpa) had to drive the car to our destination because I only wanted to ride the train one way.
So as a child who loved food, you can see where this led. My grandparents would take me to all of my favorite restaurants, food shops, and bakeries and couldn't say no. I'd eat my whole meal and then most of my tiny Obachan's. These summers weren't the best for the waistline.
I'd come home and my dad would be frustrated with the weight I'd gained and decide I was going to lose all the weight before the next summer. This, along with other factors, made me weight conscious at an early age.
But instead of the weight coming off as I grew up (and getting teased, A LOT), I just got bigger and bigger. I knew who in my elementary school was fatter than me and wasn't (basically the whole school). I began comparing myself to others and found myself lacking all the time.
I asked to be homeschooled when I was in seventh grade (that's a whole other story there) and being home all day every day didn't help. I snuck food whenever my parents weren't looking, hid food, you name it, I probably did it. I was flat out addicted.
Then high school rolled around. I asked to go back to public school at this point and had a blast, but it was a weird time. I noticed my friends getting "checked out". And I noticed those same looks weren't directed toward me (probably a good thing now, looking back as an adult but not so fun as a teenager).
Then the summer before my sophomore year we went back to visit Japan for a month. My dad began working there a lot and it made sense for the whole family to join him. I remember my first thought being, "People in Japan are so skinny. I'll seem even fatter there." I can't begin to describe how extremely sad that makes me as a mother or person, that any teenager's first thought when being able to go on a trip of a lifetime to one of the lands of their origin is that.
So we went to Japan, all eight of us. We were on a pretty strict budget and as oldest my mother put me in charge of the money for food. There was something about being in charge of one type of counting system that made me really into another (counting calories). Because 1) we didn't have much money for food 2) I didn't want to overload my calorie limit, the pounds started falling off. Literally. This time, I did it in a healthy way. Over the course of three months I lost a good amount of weight but I ate healthy and worked out (something I'd never done previously).
The looks I got on that first day back to school sophomore year did something too me. I never wanted the looks I got the year before. I wanted these new looks forever.
Boys noticed me (I remember the first good looking boy to ask for my phone number. I about died.) and girls treated me different. Sad but true. (That doesn't make it right. Part of it was the weight loss but part of it was me. I radiated confidence because I had let myself think I was less of a person when I was heavier. Learn from me. Don't do that. Your size does not equal your value!!)
I started to play sports (does soft tennis count as a sport?), something I hadn't had the guts to do since I was seven and I saw myself differently because everyone else saw me differently. (DON'T LET OTHERS DETERMINE YOUR WORTH!!)
Beginning of junior year some of the weight began to creep back on. It wasn't a moment where I freaked out but more in my subconscious. All I knew was I was a different Julia and that old Julia wouldn't ever be allowed back. I tried doing what I'd done before but it didn't work in a new location and I wasn't as committed. So I saw a shortcut.
Breakfast was an optional meal since I usually ran late anyway. No one would notice if I didn't eat it. I didn't go about actually planning it but realized I didn't have to buy a real lunch with the money my mom gave me. I could buy low fat candy (yes I was on a low fat kick and thought that low fat candy was a better choice than the nutritious meals they fed us at school.) and skip lunch. I usually came home just as dinner was starting since I played sports so I'd tell my mom I had homework and I ate a big snack or some kind of crap. Luckily, I'm not sure why, this didn't last for very long. (I'm not going to give exact time periods or weights because each persons story is so different and I don't want my story to do anything other than inform.) But during that time period I ate way too few calories a day while playing a sport. I started to black out for short periods of time and I'm sure there were other warning signs my body gave that I didn't notice. But it wasn't until a few years ago that I'd realized I'd had a big problem and I was lucky, extremely lucky, to get out of it the way I did and so easily. I know others aren't so lucky and I'm so sorry to them. That's when I realized eating disorders or bad relationships with food aren't a one size fit all. They can't all be lumped into the anorexia or bulimia categories (which is what I thought).
Now, a few or more years later, I can't say I'm completely healed. I don't have urges to stop eating but I am still scared of food to a certain extent. I still light up when a sales clerk says, "You have to get a smaller size. You're so lucky." I still worry that a single meal can bring down all of the good eating I've ever done. But I'm never tempted to go a period of time without eating and I've come to love most of myself (a work in progress).
My story or the series in no way promotes eating disorders or unhealthy lifestyles. Exactly the opposite. Nor is it meant to put down any body type. If you're naturally thin, I'm not judging. If you're naturally curvy, I'm not judging. My message is to love yourself the way you are. You can try to be everyone else but you'll only be perfect being you. Why would you want to be anyone else?
I know many of you have your own stories and if you'd like to share them please feel free to email me. If you don't want to share, no worries, I just hope my story, Lacey's, Anna's, Jamie's, Tina's, or Audrey's will speak to you.
Hugs and Love,