I've recently been strutting around in my apartment after the gym in a sports bra to proudly show off the beginnings of my two-pack abs. My husband has been going along with this for a long time, until I admitted I told a couple of colleagues about it. He finally said to me, "I hate to tell you this, but there's no such thing as a two-pack. It’s a four-pack or a six-pack."

But for me — a former size 16 who dropped to a size 2 on a 5'3" frame — there IS a two-pack, and I don’t care to debate it. I told my husband loud and proud, I used be overweight so any semblance of "pack" is something I am going to boast about (in the confines of our apartment).

I grew up with extra weight, then became chubby and finally very overweight in college. I lost 60-plus pounds over three years in my 20s, and decided to lock the former "fat" me in a closet. I hid pictures, untagged myself from old college Facebook photos and begged my parents to take back childhood pictures. I was mortified the first time my husband brought his family to my parents' house and looked at my childhood photos in bewilderment.

Until recently, I had selectively blocked out growing up with extra weight, because it doesn't create the happiest childhood for many people. You know the story — we're the butt of jokes, last to get picked in gym, girls develop earlier and get teased, and usually aren’t in the popular group. But after developing my two-pack I suddenly thought about the overweight me and how far I’ve come.

There are some advantages that growing up chubby has given me, and I decided to share five of them here:

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1. You learned about diet and exercise years ago.

The playing field becomes equal between your late 20s to 30 — metabolisms start to slow, sitting at your desk all day and stress catch up, people start having babies, and many people have to learn or relearn how to eat healthy. Luckily, if you grew up with extra pounds you might have been managing your weight through diet and exercise for years before other people caught on.

2. You become very good at makeup and other grooming techniques.

I felt like I needed to play up my face, so I started learning how to do the perfect eyeliner in ninth grade and was always regarded as well dressed. With extra pounds to work with I became very good in other areas of my overall presentation.

3. You know your best assets.

As a survival tactic I learned ASAP what my greatest assets are and how to flatter my shape. For example, ever notice how Kim Kardashian wears a lot of belts to further accentuate a small waist? You learn to work with what you have!

4. You work on your personality.

You have no other choice BUT to develop a particularly likable quality or few — whether its humor, friendliness, kindness, brains, or a skill. I noticed after losing a lot of weight I became less friendly, and this is something I've been working to rectify since!

5. You have EXTRA compassion for people.

I was described by my 5th grade teacher as "motherly" because I had an inclination toward helping people (I still do!), and I generally root for the underdogs because I was one. For as long as I can remember, my own struggles have made me extra sensitive toward people, and I want to help them.

Upon reflection, I realized that rather than feeling ashamed for being fat maybe I should own my transformation instead? Whether you grew up skinny, chubby, or somewhere in between, you might have gone through a difficult period in life. I know people who have gone through some REAL issues — overcoming gambling addiction, divorce, beating cancer, heart surgery, a period of unemployment — and they often feel ashamed or try to forget it happened.

But blocking out a troubled period can diminish the effort it took you to overcome it, so why not wear it as a badge of honor? I've suddenly realized that instead of HIDING my "fat" pictures, I should proudly display them — they show how far I have come physically and mentally. Why hide that I actually worked so hard to transform my health? Now I want to use my "fat" pictures to inspire my family (and anybody else who will listen) to make changes — and celebrate them!


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