I was a chubby kid. Or at least, I was made to think that I was such. When I look back at my childhood pictures, I don’t appear particularly overweight. Especially compared to many of the kids today.
But kids can be harsh to each other. They tend to ruthlessly exploit perceived differences. I would be lying if I claimed that I am presently unaffected by the cruel treatment to which I was subjected as a kid. My offense was being thought of as having a non-ideal body type.
I first undertook a serious effort to battle the bulge at age 16. And I’ve been at it ever since, more or less. All in all, I’d have to say that I’ve been relatively successful. But it has been necessary to take different approaches at different times in my life.
A picture survives of me at age 16 after my first day working as a pineapple planter on a plantation in Hawaii. (That sounds a lot more glamorous that it was in real life.) In the photo, I have removed my shirt and am covered with red dirt. I am flabby, but not plump. My muffin top shows over my belt line.
My supervisor in Hawaii convinced me to give up candy, desserts, and treats of any kind throughout the summer. I ate only the cafeteria meals, but gave away my dessert at each meal. (You’d be surprised how many friends this gesture earned at mealtimes.) I spent my days doing manual agricultural labor in the hot sun.
My family almost didn’t recognize me when I got off the airplane upon arriving home. My neatly cropped brown hair had turned into a shaggy blond mane. I was much trimmer. My pants were kept in place only by virtue of my belt cinched to its tightest setting.
Next time: Weight control as a young adult