My Obesity Problems started with a Choco Pie: Part 1 (Journey from Childhood to College)

November 4, 2015

This is the first of a 3-part series about my weight woes. Read Part 2 (Journey from PCOD to Weight Watchers to Gymming Frustrations) here and Part 3 (Journey from Physical Fitness to Mental Fitness) here.

I’ve been overweight since I was a child, and clinically categorized as obese for nearly half my life. I’m still courageously battling my weight issues daily. But does my weight actually bother me? Yes and no.

It may be false, but in my memories, the origin of my weight problems started when the Great Hanshin Earthquake hit Japan in 1995. I was seven years old then, with no idea what an earthquake was… Our apartment building swayed a bit too dangerously for us to stay there, so we moved to a nearby school grounds to live for the next few days. We were homeless and dependent on strangers for food and water. Being a part of a fairly large Indian community, all the families stuck together huddles in blankets (in unusual sub-zero temperatures) on the floor of the school. One of the families, their home relatively safer to get to in order to scavenge edible scraps (I suppose), passed out Choco Pies for us kids to eat – the cream-filled chocolatey goodness that is so popular even today in Japan.

I started going from scrawny and underdeveloped to becoming ‘fat’ after that Choco Pie.

How my obesity problems started with Choco Pie

Ironically apt isn’t it? Because those chocolate Pies were what stopped us from going hungry in a time of crisis. (Not to mention that starvation, hunger, and famine are my most passionate research interests today.) I still eat them Pies whenever I visit Japan. I don’t blame the Choco Pie, just the memory of eating it while in shock and full of fear is seared in my memories… and the fact that I started developing a paunch and getting comments about my weight not long after.

When we moved to the US it just got worse. In fact, with every new move I made, circumstances just got worse and so did my diet. Even though I worked my ass off in PE all through school, and my diet at home was relatively good and healthy (in retrospect) compared to my peers, I still couldn’t stop gaining. I wasn’t actively trying, but I was definitely putting in all the effort I could to be on par with my schoolmates.

Had I been a child of the 21st century, I probably would have been told by a doctor to get on a diet and lose it immediately using xyz methods. Or even pestered by unforgiving contemporary aunties and uncles from the age of ten to stop being a lazy bum. Thankfully, I wasn’t. Well, I might have been, but I don’t recollect it.

Having a weight complex was disguised more subtly back then. I never got sneered at (at least for my weight) in school, coupled with my parents’ conservative style of dressing me in loose comfortable clothing, and my own wish to not reveal my bulges. I got ignored as the quiet mouse I’d been programmed to be (gracias Nippon) by all but my closest friends. No nail polish, no sleeveless shirts, no dresses, no shorts, and no fashion sense. I guess I was a wallflower? I dunno. Either way, I was self-conscious, and worried about being firmly in the overweight category with no idea of how to get to the right shape. So while others probably saw me as having no modern fashion sense, I worried about the body under the clothes. Communication gap anyone? Haha.

When I decided to go to boarding school for my senior year, with every life lesson I gained, I also gained matching kilos because of the horrendous vegetarian options given to us at the cafeteria. And with a small weekly allowance that gave me enough to afford Lays, Pepsi, crackers, Maggie, and the all-important toilet paper  to sustain my livelihood that year, I was definitely off on the wrong foot. If I hadn’t already crossed over into obese territory before, I definitely crossed it by my high school graduation. But at least I had a fantastic and memorable year in the hills of South India!

Then came college. Thankfully there was no cafeteria program in the UK – you had to fend for yourself. But, being the stingy and money-pinching girl I was, plus the fact that I had actively avoided learning how to cook up to that point, the price of fresh produce made me freeze in fear. I probably lived off of MTR packets that had been couriered to me from my parents for the first half of my freshman year. At least until I found friends who would cook for me. Not out of pity, but out of friendship.

With college came passion for knowledge and academia, freedom and independence, and the joys of dating, and lifelong friendships. Haven’t we all heard of newlyweds gaining rapid weight from happiness? Yeah, that completely happened to me … minus the whole newlyweds thing. I think I came back home that first summer break having gained 10 kilos. But when my friends and romantic interests loved me unconditionally exactly the way I was, giving me daily confidence-boosts about my abilities and capabilities, why would the weight problem I’d always struggled with bother me?

So when I was finally diagnosed with PCOD (Polycystic Ovary Disease) back in 2007 (after years of suffering from menstrual irregularities), I had already begun the transformation from timid self-conscious teenager to the woman who had miles more body confidence and embraced her frumpy and rather unfashionista style. The PCOD also confirmed 2 things:   (1) it wasn’t my fault; and (2) there were people who liked and respected me no matter my body shape and size. Of course the doctors who diagnosed me and who I consulted with would disagree, even telling me that I should stop studying to lose weight if I said I didn’t have the time (and in what universe would that have worked!). But then the question would become more moral wouldn’t it – stop following your dreams and passions in exchange for a slimmer me? It didn’t seem justified back then somehow…

…the story of my weight journey continues in Part 2 (Journey from PCOD to Weight Watchers to Gymming Frustrations) and Part 3 (Journey from Physical Fitness to Mental Fitness)! Until then, stay plump and happy! 😀

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3 Responses to “My Obesity Problems started with a Choco Pie: Part 1 (Journey from Childhood to College)”


  1. […] Read Part 1 (Journey from Childhood to College) here. This is the second post of a 3-part series about my weight woes.  […]

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  2. […] the last installment in a 3-post series about my weight woes. To read the earlier posts, here are Part 1 (Journey from Childhood to College) and Part 2 (Journey from PCOD to Weight Watchers to Gymming […]

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  3. […] I’m bone tired! I don’t know if it’s due to all the writing and retelling of my weight woes that’s brought it on, but my body aches all over and I feel washed out and akin to a zombie […]

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