I was a fat kid – now I’m a fat adult. Here are 4 things that helped me more than dieting ever did.

The writer wanders.Courtesy of Kelly Burch

  • I grew up wearing a size 16; now i use 18.

  • I am much healthier physically, mentally and emotionally today than when I was younger.

  • Being active and buying the right size clothes have helped me the most.

Growing up, sometimes it felt like everything would fall into place if I made it to the promised land of a size 12. that much bigger, I told myself as I lay in buckled size 16 pants or when my stomach ached from my desperate stomach sucking all day.

Now, as an adult, I’m one step away from a size 12, and I’m wearing an 18 where I probably should have been all along. But I found the promised land: body acceptance without shame or pressure to change.

Medical professionals, family members, and random people on the street love to tell fat people to “just lose weight.” It’s the only way my parents knew how to help me in the 1990s when I was struggling with self-confidence and body image. I even got the message myself, I lost 50 pounds in college before gaining it back when I had kids.

But the things that made me a healthy, happy individual have nothing to do with weight loss. Here’s what I wish I knew sooner.

Find joy in movement

As a child of the 90s, I was constantly outside playing in the yard, cycling around the neighborhood or organizing impromptu kickball games. But when I played T-ball, I got caught as a catcher. In football, I was put in the goal. It didn’t take long for me to get the message that bodies like mine don’t belong in sports.

So I stopped playing. I did individual sports like fencing, but I didn’t find joy or fun in exercise until I was an adult.

That’s when I realized that my body could be athletic. There are sports like powerlifting where my size is an advantage. I love hiking, kayaking and obstacle course racing. I have fun trying sports that don’t come naturally, like ice climbing or yoga.

For years, I thought exercise had one goal: to lose weight. But when I realized that the movement was really just funI fell in love.

Get the right clothes regardless of size

When I was a teenager, shopping was torture. It usually ended in tears. I avoided the mentioned plus-size parts, instead absorbing myself into straight sizes. I never developed a strong sense of style because I just wore whatever went with me.

When I came of age, I had an epiphany: the size of the label doesn’t matter. I started by buying shirts that were a little bigger, then pants that didn’t leave pressure marks on my skin.

When I adopted larger sizes, I immediately felt better physically and mentally. No one wants to be squeezed or squeezed all day. Now I shop almost exclusively online, where more retailers offer plus sizes. I love trying new styles and even renting clothes.

It turns out that well-fitting clothes boost your confidence more than a smaller size.

Preparing tasty, healthy meals

The diets of my childhood tasted like punishment. Salads without dressing, boiled eggs, cottage cheese – it doesn’t sound very appealing.

Now I know that healthy does not mean boring. I make stir-fries, curries, soups and, yes, even salads bursting with flavor. I eat food that tastes fantastic and nourishes my body well. I’ve realized that I don’t have to choose between healthy and tasty because I deserve both.

Identifying with the plus size community

If there was a body positivity movement in the early 2000s, it certainly didn’t reach me. But today my Instagram feed is full of big moms. Some lift weights for the Olympic team, while others climb mountains or become yoga influencers. They are travel bloggers, underwear models or experts in their field.

In short, they are doing what anyone can do, but what people in the larger body have been told for generations was not for them. That inspiration and representation goes a long way, especially on hard days. Fortunately, there are few of them now.

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