Fitness and fullness can live in the same body, says this proud thick woman
By Abi Portillo
I’ve always had problems with my weight.
For as long as I can remember, there was always someone commenting on how big I was. Now, I would like to think that, thanks to my genetics, my physical disposition has always been large. I towered over classmates and cousins who were four years older than I was, standing at 4’8’ tall at 10 years old.
But compounded with that, I was a chubby kid who was put on a diet at a young age. Between ages 11 and 13, I had not had rice, bread, and pasta. High school was an era of bingeing and purging, delighting in my favorite meals and then making a beeline for the nearest restroom to wash my hands of the guilt.
Yet in the middle of it all, I was probably more active than most kids. I spent afternoons running around with the other kids in the neighborhood. I was a competitive swimmer. I played tennis at some point. I went to the gym at least thrice a week amid my high school bingeing and purging. But it never seemed to please anybody; by everyone’s standards I was still just that—big. But inactive? No.
I’ll be the first to call myself out for being the fleshiest I’ve been in a long time. True, I’m naturally large but I’ve really felt slow, heavy, and lethargic over the last few months. And this happened because of life, work, and traffic—all of those things combined—and I let myself go. You know how it is when work swallows you whole. It’s not like Manila makes it that much easier to get things done either. Not to make excuses, but if I can be honest about where I’ve been and where I am now—when I was last this chunky, it was during a traumatic time in my life, and I was depressed.
So, despite the beautiful things that I was doing to my body, I still wasn’t enough. Behind that was starvation and a punitive mentality that told me I was not skinny enough and I was not doing enough to get there
On the other hand, at my most recent and very dramatic weight loss, I was also depressed and suffering from anxiety. I lost 15 pounds in less than three months without lifting a single finger. But I was neither eating nor sleeping, and going through packs and packs of cigarettes. Now that I think about it, I was also probably really unhappy even at my most fit state.
I joined a calisthenics group that a friend informally put together and loved it. On top of that, I was running my butt off and cross-training with boxing on off days. Although my body was strong and I felt amazing, I was moving within an environment that heavily focused on image and physical appearance. So, despite the beautiful things that I was doing to my body, I still wasn’t enough. Behind that was starvation and a punitive mentality that told me I was not skinny enough and I was not doing enough to get there. If there is anything I can take away from that period, and from the other points in my life when I was an athlete, it’s the discipline and dedication to be active.
Today, it’s a different story. I no longer strive to be the thinnest I’ve ever been, but I do wish to reclaim the functional, active lifestyle that I once had. After all this time, I’ve come to realize that being skinny or fat doesn’t have a direct correlation to happiness nor misery. I fought long and hard to be as happy as I am now. If to be skinny was the goal in the past, balance and happiness is the name of the game now.
Although I’m at possibly my biggest and heaviest, I feel I am at my most beautiful, my sexiest. While it’s true that I did let myself go over the last few months—work got in the way—I have been blessed multiple times over to have lived the experiences that I did then: I’m in love with an amazing man who loves me too; so many of my dreams have come true (I met Erykah Badu!); my friends and family are amazing. Life is so good! I may feel thick today, but I can pick my fitness back up again—and I have—but it’s taken longer to pick my heart back up from off the floor than it ever was for my weight to drop. And to be honest, on some days, I like the thickness. It makes me feel ripe.
I may feel thick today, but I can pick my fitness back up again—and I have—but it’s taken longer to pick my heart back up from off the floor than it ever was for my weight to drop
And even the media is being more forgiving and making better examples of women who prove that fitness and fullness can live within the same body. We now have women like Ashley Graham, Candice Huffine, and Khloe Kardashian changing the game. These women are soft and tough at the same time. They are thick and curvy in all the right places, but they train like beasts. More than anything, they are impeccable examples of what it means to be healthy: finding the beauty and strength within yourself and let that manifest through your body. You’d be surprised at what you can make your body do. The weight loss is a delicious side-effect.
So, I’m just going to enjoy today. Enjoy life as it is in all my thickness because it is beautiful. I’m going to have a nice lunch with my family, and there may be some cake in the picture. To hell with whichever pair of jeans I’m not wearing because they no longer fit. I’ve always been happier in a skirt anyway.
I’m also going to enjoy tomorrow, when I go back to the grind—the pounding heartbeat, the racing pulse, the gushing sweat, and those sore muscles. If I love my body now, I’m going to love it even more after I’ve pushed myself through that workout, and make my body do all these things it couldn’t do before. I’ve lost a couple of pounds since I started, but I’m going to savor the experience of watching them fall away slowly, too. No feelings of starvation and punishment, it’s all just part of a fun, fulfilled life!
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