When I was a little girl, one of my well-meaning relatives called me “thunder thighs.” Until the age of 16, I was severely overweight. A chubby girl who ate her feelings and spent more time with her nose in a book than on the playground, I grew up with severe body issues. With no friends and low self-esteem, I hid my body in baggy clothes and refused to look at myself in the mirror. Depressed, dejected, and on a path to obesity (and becoming the true “fat lady who sings”), at the age of 16, I decided I’d had enough and took charge of my body and my life. Slowly, I began to deal with my emotions and started to feel more comfortable in my own skin. I became determined to change my life. I started reading on the treadmill or stationary bike at the gym 3-5 days a week. I joined my mom in a weight watchers program. I went cold turkey from all soda and fast food and substituted herbal tea and portion controlled meals. A year (and 75 dropped pounds) later, I began my path towards health and happiness. At a time in my life when I was at my most emotionally vulnerable, I had the courage to believe in something greater. I could have continued to wallow in self-pity and hide from the world, or I could take the steps to drastically change my life. With each pound lost, I started to look in the mirror and see beauty and strength amongst the flaws. As the years went by, my weight fluctuated a bit–the stresses of performance degrees and long nights of studying took their toll on my body. But post-gradschool, as I found joy in my daily yoga practice and health through a gluten free, vegan diet, I am now happy with my small but mighty body. Yes, I’ve been on a diet for 12 years straight and have to be very careful of what I eat each day, but for the first time in my life, my body is happy and healthy. I enjoy my daily practices and challenges. I thrive on spending a few spare minutes of my day holding a handstand or plank pose.
Weight and body image will always be a struggle for me. I may always feel like the chubby girl; but, with the help of my yoga practice, I am slowly starting to love my thunder thighs and the strength they provide.