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The Truth about Being an Overweight Teenager

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Earlier this week I traveled to Minneapolis to kick-off a long term partnership with Evereve, a women’s clothing store. Now with over 65 stores nationwide, I’ve shopped there since the early days back when it was Hot Mama 10 years ago.

Hewing Hotel Minneapolis

During my quick visit, I had the opportunity to chat face-to-face with Megan (Founder & CEO), tour the headquarters and even participate in a fantasy-worthy shopping spree and photo shoot. It was one of those work trips that felt nothing like “work” and more like a dream come true.

Evereve Corporate Office

In the coming weeks and months I’ll be sharing more about Evereve’s unique story, trendy clothes and truly one-of-a-kind shopping experience but I wanted to first get something off my chest. This post is not sponsored, I simply feel a huge sense of urgency to open up my heart to all of you, my loyal readers, about why this partnership means so much to me, on a very personal level.

If you follow me on Instagram, you likely saw countless behind-the-scenes photos and videos from my exciting visit to the corporate office and during the professional photo shoot. I was practically about to explode with joy and excitement in every clip, beaming from ear to ear, because I simply can’t believe that this is my life. But probably not for reasons you expect.

Liz Baseball Cap

Don’t get me wrong, it was an absolute BLAST and a true honor to play dress up with a professional stylist and pose in front of a camera crew. I’m a girly girl at heart and love any chance to dress up and look pretty, especially considering I wear gym clothes or pajama pants most of the time. But this experience and this partnership with Evereve actually means much more than that..

As many of you know who have been following my story and reading my blog for a long time, 10 years ago I began a weight loss journey that resulted in me losing over 60 pounds. I’m proud to say that through regular exercise and healthy eating habits I have kept the weight off, including through two pregnancies.

All that said, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the fact that for the first 27 years of my life I was extremely overweight with a BMI in the obese category. In high school, before plus size clothing stores existed, I had to shop in the men’s department at Gap to find pants that fit to match my XL women’s top.

Too embarrassed to tell the people I was shopping with, and not wanting to make them feel badly, I would literally sneak over to the men’s department when they weren’t looking to buy my clothes. Even more common? I go to the mall alone and shop. When you’re a teenager hoping to have your first kiss or meet your first boyfriend, nothing kills your spirit quite like having to wear men’s size 42 waisted jeans.

When I moved to Boston at 17 to attend Boston University, I had a whole new set of amazing friends (who I’m still friends with to this day, btw!) and we would go shopping regularly, just as any college kids living in a major city would. Since there was no way I would fit into anything sold in a boutique store, I was thrilled when I discovered a shopping mall that I could reach via subway that had one plus size clothing store.

Too cold to shop downtown during the frigid Boston winters, my friends and I would head to this shopping mall regularly. Not wanting my friends to feel bad or pity me, I would pretend to shop with them. Literally, I would thumb through the racks of clothing knowing full well that none of it would fit over my 215 lb body. Basically, I would “fake shop” and pray no one noticed that I never tried anything on or made any purchases.

Liz Lobby

Fast forward to today, I’m now 36 and wear a size medium top and 10/12 bottom. I exercise six days a week and eat a high protein, low carb clean diet 80% of the time. While I’m mostly maintaining at this point, it’s actually a lot more difficult than losing weight was in the first place. You don’t have the consistent weight loss milestones to keep you motivated, people don’t comment like they did when you first lost the weight and of course your metabolism slows down with each passing year. Add in a couple of kids, a growing business and everything else that life throws at you at this age, it’s a lot of work to keep this body into a size 10/12 jeans. Note: I said 10/12, not 2, 4, or even 6. Keeping it real, friends.

Photo Shoot Photo

To say that my partnership with Evereve holds a special place in my heart would be a significant understatement. Considering 9 years ago I couldn’t even fit into the clothes sold in their stores, it is a huge milestone in my life to have been chosen as an ambassador to represent their brand. What’s even crazier? I’m the only person they chose who isn’t a professional fashion and lifestyle blogger.

Evereve Style Crew

My fellow style ambassadors are inspiring, passionate entrepreneurs but they are also all thin and gorgeous. When you spend the first 70% of your life being plus size, it’s hard to pretend that there’s anything normal about joining a crew full of ladies who look like this representing a high-end fashion line in the ranks with Nordstrom, Anthropologie and Lululemon. Don’t get me wrong, free clothes and fancy photo shoots are AMAZING. They truly are. But this means so much more than that to me. And I will forever be grateful.

Check out my Pinterest board to see more healthy living posts!

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Liz DellaCroce

Liz Della Croce is the creator and author of The Lemon Bowl, a healthy food blog. Since 2010, Liz has been sharing delicious recipes that just so happen to be healthy. By using real ingredients with an emphasis on seasonality, Liz has built a growing audience of loyal readers who crave good food for their families. Click Here To Subscribe to my newsletter:

78 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing your story Liz, I love that you are a 10/12 and happy there. You’re a real woman, and you look amazing, and obviously feel great too! I was very heavy in HS and more so in college, at 5’0″ was 170 when I finished college. I have been down to around 140 for the last 20 or so years and though still a size 12/14 and wish I could be a 10/12, am trying to be happy with where I am and stay healthy. Love your recipes and stories.

    1. Thank you so much for reading. I guess one benefit of being between a 16-20/22 for so many years is that I feel grateful just to be a 10/12. Exercise and eating right makes me feel good and happy and if that means I’m still a double digit size then I’m ok with it.

  2. Liz, this brought tears to my eyes, thanks for your honesty, you are truly an inspiration to so many! Thankful God has placed you in my life! XO, Sheila

  3. Hi Liz,

    I am being attacked by a pack of vultures for my comment so I should probably expand on it. First of all, both my sister and I grew up skinny as rails. We were called “toothpick” and “matchstick” and kids said things like “Don’t go in the shower, you will slip down the drain” and “If you stand sideways and stick out your tongue, you look like a zipper”. We were both bullied horribly for being thin. Everyone has so much sympathy for people who are overweight but none for those who just can’t gain weight. However, as I said, we were really active and ate only our own farm grown food. Later in life, although I was never obese, I did gain a serious amount of weight compared to my body frame several times. I respect a person’s right to be fat if they want to; I have seen many fat women who are sexy as heck but to me it is uncomfortable when I am at the computer and my elbows are banging against my muffin top and the waistband of my pants is cutting into my body to the point I have to open the button and sometimes the zipper. When I get to that point, I seriously change my diet and start being more active. I don’t go to the gym; I hate gyms and the demanding, horrible exercises they try to make you do; just can’t do it. I am a walker and can walk for miles every day when I need to. I don’t have a car and I walk everywhere. Those fitness experts will always put down walking but I have had really good results from it. I also should have said that I really, really respect anyone who can do the work to lose weight; I know a bit of how hard it is. I still walk every day and eat a good diet now and am so much happier than when I was stuffing my face with a lot of meat and starch. Veggies are the way to go, for sure; although I still eat some meat; just don’t stiff my face with it; and I love fish.. So congrats to you for your efforts and success; sorry I didn’t say it earlier; was just making a short comment on my own weight experience. Keep up the good work!

    1. You sound like a gem… and like you have it all figured out. Perhaps you should start a blog about how easy it is to lose/maintain weight by eating correctly and walking, because that is a brand new concept that no one knows about! You could help so many people! Cheers!

  4. Oh girl, I started BALLING when I read this: “Fast forward to today, I’m now 36 and wear a size medium top and 10/12 bottom. I exercise six days a week and eat a high protein, low carb clean diet 80% of the time. While I’m mostly maintaining at this point, it’s actually a lot more difficult than losing weight was in the first place. You don’t have the consistent weight loss milestones to keep you motivated, people don’t comment like they did when you first lost the weight and of course your metabolism slows down with each passing year.” I FEEL YOU. I’ve had a lifelong struggle with my weight because of physical and emotional abuse from the one person who was supposed to love me the most in the world: the man who does not deserve the term father. And while I never have been larger than a size 14, for me that double digit number has always felt like a 42 both physically and mentally. I’ve simply never been able to look at myself in any way other than the way he saw me. I stay around a 10/12 now but I’m still not happy and the harder I work to be happier, the harder it seems to be but especially because I do have to work so much harder now that I too am 36 and work is always bringing decadent meals my way. Wow this has gone long, just wanted to say I feel you. And now that I know your story, it inspires me so much more than your recipes. Though don’t me wrong, those are awesome too!! <3

  5. I’m beyond words of happy for you. I am so lovingly grateful you shared this with us. You are incredible and I love that you have will have this experience and memory with you forever. It is simply incredible!

  6. I grew up overweight and mall trips were just the worst. All of my friends shared clothes with each other while I tried telling myself it was my height that was the problem, not my weight, to keep myself from really getting hurt. I’ve lost 40 lbs since then. Those experiences sure do make you much more determined to stay fit and healthy for sure. Congratulations on your achievements and thanks for being so relatable.

  7. Thank you so much for this post, Liz! I have lost 90 lbs in the past year and you’re a continuous inspiration to me on my journey! I’ve been maintaining for about 3 months and it is so tricky! I follow you on all social outlets and I love how real you are. Delicious food, hard work, balancing everything in your busy life– you’re a rockstar! So happy for you and want you to know that you look like you belong in every fashion shot!

  8. Reading your story was like reading my own! Trying to be the funny one because you are always the DUFF. Trying to hide how big you are with clothes that are even bigger. Being unhappy and turning to the one thing that is causing your unhappiness, food. I was 230lb and wearing a size 24/26 in Plus Size (never did try mens) and now I’m a size 10/12, work out everyday, and love my new, athletic, muscular body, something I never thought I would say. Congratulations on what you have achieved and I wish you continued success!

  9. I didn’t have that problem. I grew up poor on a farm and mostly all we could get was basically healthy food and we were all active plus had to do work on the farm. Plus my mother told my sister and I if we ever got fat she was going to run us up and down the road in the truck using a willow switch on our backsides. We never had the luxury of the indulgence of getting fat.

    1. Carol, I’m sorry to hear that your life as a child was so hurtful. Before you continue to judge overweight people as indulgent, though, I wonder if you would consider a few things. I have volunteered for 5 years at a food bank and many of our food insecure clients are overweight. Often processed food is less expensive, less effort to make and easier to get than fresh, wholesome food. A high protein diet is something that is just not possible for many people living in poverty not that that is the only way to slim down). Also, many impoverished neighbourhoods are “food deserts” where large grocery stores or farmers markets are far away and inaccessible due to lack of transportation (even a buss ticket of reach for some) so people shop, when they can, at convenience stores – more expensive and usually not a lot of healthy selections. Rich or poor, all of us have our own hurdles to overcome to lead a healthy life. Supporting each other and cheering each other on rather than judging can go a long way toward improving the quality of all our lives.

      1. Mother of god, where did you get the idea I had a hurtful childhood? I said we were poor, not that we were miserable or unhappy. My mother made those comments about running us up and down the road with a willow switch at our backsides in jest. And I haven’t judged anybody (as you seem to be doing to me, inferring things that aren’t there); I was only commenting on the article. Sheesh!

    2. I’m sorry you had this life experience Carol. However, I wouldn’t call being overweight a “luxury”. As an overweight teen myself it led to anorexia and bulimia and took up most of my childhood/teenage years.

      I hope you find the healing you need.

      And Liz, ROCK ON GIRL! Thank you for being so raw and honest. Being an overweight teen/female in general is just rough. So proud of your progress and the amazing person you are today.

    3. Carol, I’m sorry that your childhood experiences were so negative because they’ve clearly left you with a rather uncharitable view of people. Being overweight is not a luxury. It’s a disease with a genetic cause. Yes, it can be overcome with a tremendous amount of work, which Liz has done. Had you ever needed to do so much work to maintain a healthy weight, you might find the answer is not so simple. And yes, I’m speaking as a 5’5″ woman who has to spend every minute of her life focused on her weight to remain a size 8/10. Try being a little more beautiful on the inside.

      1. Wow, people really put their own spin on things. I never said being overweight was a luxury; I said we never had the luxury of the indulgence to get there; always had to eat good, healthy food and had lots of chores to do and were active all the time; my mother made sure of that. I just made a comment on the article; you might try being a little nicer yourself; I never said anything negative; just related my own experience.

      2. I was told before I ever got on social media how mean people could be. I have seen that on this article. All I did was make a comment on the article referring to my own life; there was absolutely nothing negative about it but I am being attacked left, right and center. You might listen to yourself and be a little more understanding of other people. All I said was that it was impossible for me to get fat growing up because of what we ate and what we did. I happen to have a very positive attitude toward life and people.. What on earth makes you assume my childhood experiences were negative and that I have an uncharitable view of people? I never said anything insulting or negative; just stated my own experiences about weight as it related to the article. It was just a comment about my own experience in weight. I thought that was what the comment section was for; to give comments.

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