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Kids used to call me ‘Shamu’

Kristin Gleis • Mar 23, 2010 at 6:27 PM

I have been overweight since second or third grade. If I sit back and take that journey, I can remember the hurtful names that kids called me. Not only can I remember what they called me, I can remember exactly who was doing the name-calling. I was called “Shamu,” “Fatty,” “Whale,” “Crisco,” “Biggie Smalls,” and those are just a few.

I have never had a hard time making friends. I was not a child who just sat in the house after school and watched TV. I played outside with the neighborhood kids. I played Girl Scouts softball, and I was on the basketball team at school. When I got bored though, I would eat. I found comfort in food.

I was raised an only child by a single mother. I was by myself a lot at night when my mom worked. Food kept me company. Ronald McDonald never called me fat; he was the complete opposite. Come to my “house,” eat a cheeseburger, fries, soda, ice cream, he would say. We love you here; we even have a playroom. I enjoyed Wendy’s “house,” too. Her food was good and she always wanted you to finish your meal with a cold, chocolate treat.

If I stayed at my grandma’s, she cooked. She never cooked anything healthy, though. My grandma would make fried pork chops with fried potatoes and gravy, served with corn, bread and butter, and I never went without a cold Pepsi. After dinner, I would stuff myself with Little Debbie snacks. My grandmother until the day she died, was the ultimate junk food junky. I don't think I can ever remember a time going to my grandma's and not eating at least a box of some kind of Little Debbie snacks.

I am not that big on snacks. I like meals. I like going out to dinner at a restaurant. You can never make your food at home taste as good as the food you eat at a restaurant. Being a single mother, I find myself in the same trap as my mother. I work eight to nine hours a day, and this does not include the hour or so I am supposed to be exercising at Weigh of Life. McDonald’s is fast. I can take the kids inside so they can jump around in the play area and I can just sit there. Drive-thrus are heaven, but only if you want to stay unhealthy and overweight.  I don't.

I do not want to remain unhealthy, out of shape and, most of all, overweight. Do I have to eat healthier? Do I have to work out four, five or even six times per week? No. Do I want to do all those things 100 percent of the time? No. Do I workout as often as I am able, and do I eat as healthy as possible? Yes.

I am doing this because I want to be here to watch these three children (my half siblings) I have taken responsibility for grow into strong, healthy adults. As I watch the children grow up with a healthy lifestyle, I know I am becoming a healthier person, too.

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