As far back as I can remember, I was always overweight. Even as a child, I felt like a big lumbering oaf next to my three skinny stepsisters. It was so unfair, the way they were able to polish off huge portions of pizza or ice cream and not worry about their weight. When they came to visit and would stand giggling on the scales, not even knowing the significance of the numbers on its dial —‘Fifty kilos, is that a lot?’— I would be painfully aware of the fact that I was almost twice that weight, even at the age of fifteen.
The difference was like night and day. While they came from a genetically thin family, my parents were morbidly obese — in non-medical language, grossly overweight — just like three of my grandparents (my maternal grandmother was ‘only’ obese — in other words, just fat). In my teenage years alone, I tried the Hay diet, the Atkins diet, the Hollywood diet, fasting, and more in my battle to become less overweight. I repeatedly lost up to 15 kg, but the ‘yo-yo effect’ would kick in and I would soon pile that weight back on.
When I was twenty, I weighed more than 130 kg. Then I went on a crash diet and in just a few months starved myself down to a weight of 68 kg, with a body height of 175 cm. It was the first time in my life that I had been in the normal weight range for my size. It didn’t last long. My metabolism had slowed down completely and as a result I just kept gaining weight again. When I was eventually diagnosed with hypothyroidism, I concluded that socalled normal weight just wasn’t realistic for me. In my case, it would mean a life of permanent hunger and selftorture. After some reading, I found that such a life wasn’t necessary: excess weight was demonised without reason. I might be fat, but I didn’t smoke, drink, consume fast food, or eat red meat. And I was physically fit, apart from my excess weight.
I decided to set other priorities in my life — I completed my doctorate in psychology, trained as a psychotherapist, got married, and started renovating an old house. At the age of thirty, I tipped the scales at 150 kg, but was not limited in life by my weight. In short, I was happy with my conscious decision to enjoy life rather than leading an existence of constant hunger and self-denial.