When I was about 5 years old, my Mum took me to the doctor for a routine visit. It was a hot Summer day and the doctor was sitting at a desk in front of his large window. As we were walking out, my Mum took my hand and put her other hand on the door handle. As she turned to say goodbye to the doctor, he said five words that changed my life: “just watch her weight ok”. I looked up at Mum and felt a lead weight pulling at my chest. She did not say anything, but I knew that something was wrong. They spoke for a couple more minutes, but I do not remember what they said. I just remember feeling ashamed and wondering what I had done wrong.
From that moment on, my relationship with food was broken. I was always hungry and was now labelled as ‘fat’. Although I lost weight briefly, I gained it back with more. This continued so that I was overweight most of my school life and was teased because of my weight. Miss Piggy was my nickname throughout middle school, I never got picked for sports and couldn't wear the clothes that my friends did as they didn't make them in my size.
Being overweight as a child ruled my life but I knew that it did not need to be this way. That is why I spent my life researching to solve weight issues without stigma and restriction. Now I teach adults, parents and families how to lose weight, so they don't have to feel like I did.
It is more than 30 years after that doctor’s appointment, and I have finally healed my relationship with my body. It took 17 years of academic research, having kids of my own and a lot of self-reflection to find the answers.