I am adopted. I was born in the US by American parents and immediately placed for adoption. I was adopted by a wonderful Danish couple who lived briefly in the US while my Dad got his PhD at Standford. I managed to find and meet my biological parents when I was 19 years old.
When I was 15 months old my parents returned to Denmark with me, and I was raised in Denmark, with frequent sojourns to Switzerland.
My biological parents were without a doubt more American than most Americans. My birth mom was 6th or 7th generation American, and my birth dad’s heritage goes even further back into the US, with a significant influx of Native American in his genes. My birth mom was short and obese, like me. She was also dark olive skinned with dark eyes and hair. My birth dad, significantly taller, was the only blond in his family of exceedingly dark skinned people. Their darkness was more tawny or “red”.
I grew up in a culture of tall, blond, slender Danes with blue eyes, and that is whom I was compared with. I however, was short, dark haired with a reddish dark skin color. It was and is immediately obvious that I do not look like my Danish contemporaries, and I was forever compared growing up. Bullied in school, sticking out like a sore thumb, I was short and round like my birth mom. Because I had extra fat on me I got my period a lot earlier than my class mates. (Fat stores and generates hormones, which is why rounder girls get their periods earlier, and also why hormonal imbalances and overweight goes hand in hand)
I was, forever, the “fat”, short, “black” haired, dark eyed girl. I put “black” haired in citation because that is how I was described, but really, my hair was but dark brown. And I had no-one to mirror my looks. When I was 10-13 years old I was deeply depressed, cried every day, feared school and had turned to food and books as a solace. I was definitely overweight, although not dangerously so. I managed to change this as a teen, mainly because I became very physically active.
As a teen, I was not fat. For my type build I do not believe I was even overweight as a teen. I was however voluptuous, think Marilyn Monroe. During the years from 13-19 years old I was exceedingly physically active, and while my looks still stuck out, I had some wonderful friends so it mattered less. I was so physically active that I burned what I ate. Unfortunately, I was still described as “fat”, especially by my Dad, whom I think would have liked to see me look more “Danish”. At 5’2 tall I weighed from 143-163 pounds during that time frame. It was however “commonly known” and accepted that I was “fat”. I had certainly internalized this as completely true. It had become part of my identity – I was fat.
As a teen I was exceedingly physically active – I used my bike as my main mode of transportation, ran the dogs every day, horseback rode several times a week and was physically on the go. I had huge well developed muscles and burned a lot of calories.
After meeting my birth parents at 19 years old I finally had someone to mirror my looks. I am not sure if anyone can imagine the relief this brought. Especially my birth mom who was arguably very obese, short, round and dark I felt vindicated. That is how I was born to look. For the first time ever I felt empowered to tell the people who criticized my looks to go $($# themselves. It was a good empowerment. I also finally stopped fighting the weight – it was just part of who I was – and that was not so smart! Remember, my birth mom who I was modulating myself after died at 56 years old.
As I became an adult and moved to the US the physical activities fell away one by one and my weight gain had officially started. A few times in my late twenties or early thirties I tried half halfheartedly to lose weight. I would try to research different weight loss theories and try out a variety. The weight loss theories confused me, and nothing really worked, so I quickly gave up. My life was also so busy, that I did not feel I really had the strength to deal with my weight. And the pounds climbed on.
In my mid thirties I finally realized I had a serious problem and went on a sensible diet with exercise. I dropped 50 pounds and was very proud of myself. Then I injured myself exercising, and the pounds came back on.
I had one last effort to lose weight two years ago, I again lost 50 pounds before I fell back in to my old bad habits and gained most of it back. This is the time when I noticed that weight loss had gotten harder than ever before.