Food is my life. I have never thought of having another profession outside of the culinary world. Whenever I played “house” in kindergarten, I was always the chef. Always the grandchild in the kitchen helping grandma to prepare lunch or dinner. Always the relative expected to bring a dessert to family gatherings.

Always overweight.

As the years went on, my weight – that number – only rose as my drive to do anything about it fell. Needless to say, my weight has been a significant issue throughout my life, especially because of my love for food.

            I am currently 5’4” and 152 pounds with a BMI of 25 and a body fat percentage of 24.3. All of these numbers fall into the “average” category and I could not be more pleased with myself. Looking back ten months ago, I was finishing my first year of college – and yes, I gained the Freshman 15. But I’m going to come back to this later.

            I’d have to say that – like most mothers – my mother cares for me more than life itself.  In elementary school, she would always pack me lunch. Each day I carried my “Power Puff Girl” lunchbox filled with all kinds of healthy options – apple slices, grapes, carrots, peanut butter sandwiches, and granola bars. After my class filed into the lunchroom with royal blue and mustard yellow picnic tables, we sat in our unofficial assigned seats and then the snack trading began. I’d inevitably end up bartering some grapes for a Scooby Doo gummy snack pack without my mother finding out. However, when it came to dinnertime I was left to eat what was cooked – the typical baked chicken with steamed broccoli (and if I was lucky some macaroni and cheese). My mother monitored what I ate, when I ate it, and my physical activity. Whenever I wanted a little extra pasta or dessert, my mom would look me in the eyes and say “That’s enough.” Or “Do you really want to eat that?” I’d constantly hear these phrases throughout my childhood all through high school. Because of her strict helicoptering I grew to be rebellious.

I can’t tell you how many arguments I got into with my mom over my eating habits. How many tears I shed because I thought she thought I was fat and not good enough to be her daughter. How many wooden doors I slammed. How many porcelain angel figures broke from the vibrations.

Countless.

I was never extremely active as a child, but I participated in musical theatre for 8 years. Occasionally I would go to the gym with my mom, but not as often as she would have liked. I was tan, awkward, and pudgy. As of now I’ve embraced my sixth grade self, even calling myself “The Original “Jake From State Farm.’” But when I was younger I did nothing to change that. I stopped working out in high school and if I wanted pizza, ice cream, or any kind of junk food, I ate it. Don’t get me wrong, I love healthy foods, I just no longer cared at that point in my life.

            September 4, 2014 I arrived at Johnson & Wales University to begin my new adventure as a Baking and Pastry major. Becoming a college student was so freeing. I could go wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted and of course eat according to the same principle. I’d quickly made friendships with my roommate and my neighbors to begin this journey with. On the first day of classes my neighbor, Tommy, shared the rumor that “At JWU students don’t gain the Freshmen 15…they gain the Freshman 50 because of the constant eating and “taste testing” in labs.” My friends and I all laughed at this statement. Yet, I was still nervous about gaining weight. I told myself “I’m never going to gain the Freshman 15”… Boy was I wrong.

            After sharing with my parents about all the delicious pastries I got to try in an average day, I was thoroughly shocked to not hear my mother reprimand me. I mean, all my life I was told not to eat junk foods by this woman and now that I’m constantly surrounded by it, she tells me nothing? This made me think that she has finally just let go. However, by the end of the year, I was 20 pounds heavier – nearing 200 pounds – and I could tell that not only my mother, but my father were holding their tongues. Everyone in my family knows how sensitive a topic my weight is for me.

            Little did my parents know, I had already decided that I needed to change myself for the better. I grew unhappy with my body and the food I was feeding it. The day I got home for the summer, I started my health kick. I cut out majority of carbohydrates and all processed sugars and dessert items. I was on a mission and the only way I could succeed was by changing my eating habits. I incorporated a large amount of protein and green vegetables into my diet. The first three days were rough, but as the days went on I loved the way my body felt. I woke up each morning with so much energy and positivity. Of course there were some rough days, but with a lot of motivation I was able to stay on track. I did exercise six days a week to aid in my weight loss, but to also tone my body. Within nine weeks I lost 32 pounds.

            I never starved myself. If I was hungry, I ate. I was constantly on Pinterest searching for new and healthy alternatives for all my favorite foods. You’d be surprised at how delicious paleo cinnamon rolls tastes (my personal favorite breakfast item.)

            My relationship with my mother has certainly changed over these past few months. I think both of us realized that we won’t get anywhere with force. I am now comfortable with my body; talking to my parents about it no longer phases me. They even miss all the healthy options I was cooking during the summer. One thing I learned through this whole fourteen year ordeal was that my mother only did the things she did out of love. She did it because she went through the same problem as a child (being overweight). My mom only tried to help me so I would be happy with myself. I love and appreciate my mom for this so much more now, and I understand her reasoning. I don’t think I would be where I am today without her.

Published by Tatiana Azan