My family is loving and supportive, and they would have done anything to help me. But incredibly, they didn’t think of me as obese. I was just Taylor—upbeat, opinionated, optimistic. If they’d known what I was experiencing as a grossly overweight teen, they would have helped me get fit.
Why didn’t my family realize I was obese? Because a chunky kid can turn into an obese teen so gradually that the people closest to them don’t notice.
Looking back, I wish I’d told my family:
• I’m scared.
I knew overweight kids could have heart disease, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes.
• Teasing hurts.
I laughed along with the kids who teased me, but years later, I still remember every hurtful word.
• I don’t fit in.
My weight placed a huge barrier between my thin peers and me. The more isolated I felt, the more I turned to food for comfort. And the more I turned to food, the bigger and more isolated I became.
•I want to be thin.
I acted like my weight didn’t bother me, but I promise you, it did.
When I thought about how much weight I needed to lose, it seemed useless even to try.
•Please talk, but I may not listen right away.
I would have listened—eventually—if my family had approached me about my weight.
I never said any of these things to my family. Instead, I just acted like being overweight was no big deal. I told myself that I had no control over my weight. My family’s busy, fast-food lifestyle and my inactive hobbies made it impossible to lose weight. Besides, I had the fat gene. I was meant to be a big guy.
As long as I could blame people and circumstances, I didn’t have to take responsibility for myself. Then one day when I was 14, I stepped on the scale and watched the numbers fly to nearly 300. Something clicked that day. I knew that every extra pound was there because of me, and I was the only one who could get rid of the weight that was holding me back from accomplishing my dreams.
How I Lost Weight
I set out to design my own fitness program, one that would be fun, healthy and effective. If I intended to lose the weight only once, I would need a plan that I could stick to for life. I love video games, so I created a plan based on gaming strategies. I set up a system where one dollar represents one calorie. Each day, I started with a certain amount of money, or calories, and I could increase my money by exercising. I had to “buy” everything I ate, and before I could buy junk food, I had to buy everything I needed for a healthy body. With so many food groups necessary for a healthy body, it never seemed worth it to buy a cupcake for $300.
I continue to play the game, which I call the Ultimate Fitness Game, all day. I start with a new screen each morning, and my goal is to keep from running out of money before I run out of day.
I’m now 18, and I’ve weighed 145 pounds for nearly three years. Getting and staying fit is tough, but it’s easier than a lifetime of obesity.