Flashback Friday – The Chubby Years

Heyyyy friends!! Just returned from writing my personal training exam. 100 multiple choice and 50 fill in the blank. Both of which I suck at. I’ve got a Liberal Arts degree, I can develop and argue a stellar thesis, but ask me to choose between ‘a’ and ‘c’ and I clam up! Here’s hoping I got the 80% I needed to pass!

I’ve been a busy bee again all day, but I want to take the time to go through another Flashback Friday.

One reason why I want to do this is because I think it’s important that people know not everyone is born healthy and fit. Most of the people we see at the gym didn’t start that way. Not all food bloggers are inherently healthy eaters. Like anything, it’s a process. Just like we enjoy seeing pre-photoshopped photos, it’s a nice reminder that no one was born perfect.

My story is a common one. I was a chubby girl because I ate and drank too much and moved too little. In fact, I was horribly out of shape, having never been remotely athletic my entire life (I spent my weekends reading the Babysitter’s Club).

Sports teams were out in high school, there was no time between smoke breaks.


I smoked for 6 years. Quit cold turkey 4 years ago.

I was a vegetarian from ages 14 to 22, so most people would have identified me as a healthy eater. I made hummus, I liked vegetables, I ate a lot of yogurt.

But I didn’t have a sweet clue what calories were. Seriously. If you told me that slice of pizza was 400 calories, I had no idea what that meant in relation to anything else, and I didn’t really care to figure it out.

The only thing that made sense to me was eat less = lose weight. This never worked, so I don’t know why I kept trying it. I thought about food all the time, counting down the minutes until my next meal. I thought I couldn’t eat after 7pm, so I’d go to bed starving.

I consumed a lot of oil too. One tablespoon being 120 calories didn’t mean anything, remember? Everything was drenched in the good stuff. Or fondued in it.


One of my favourite restaurants served breakfast 24 hours a day. There were many a-night where my friends and I would saunter in after a late movie, or night out at the bar, and I’d order a giant homestyle breakfast.

Just because I was a vegetarian, and later pescetarian, didn’t mean I ate a lot of vegetables. Carbs were the name of my game. Potatoes, rice, couscous, bread, cereal. Usually drenched in as much cheese as I could chop up.

I honestly thought I was making good decisions back then, but it’s hard to do when you’re horribly uneducated on basic nutrition. I cringe to think of the pre-made salads I bought, or ginormous bagels I would slather with cream cheese, thinking I was eating well.

Working at Starbucks for five years didn’t help!


Being surrounded by delicious lattes, frappuccinos and pastries is hard. Drinking four coffees a day is one thing, when four of those are white chocolate mochas, that’s another thing.

Oh yes, and there was the sweet tooth. I thought this was my downfall as a chubby girl.


I blamed my extra pounds on the sweets I regularly indulged in, but they were only a small part of the problem.


I was GWLHB – Girl Who Likes Her Beer. I would often “watch” what I ate, so I could still get away with drinking mass quantities of beer. I honestly don’t know how my belly fit all that volume…

Needless to say, I eventually started bursting at the seams.


Obese? No. But no girl deserves to hate herself and her body, no matter the size.

The summer going into my fourth year of university, my friend took pictures of the radio show I co-hosted.


The pictures horrified me. The desk is covering me here, I deleted the worst ones. Seeing them were a huge wake-up call that my weight had gotten out of control. It was devastating.

So how does a girl go from nachos every other day to salads and cottage cheese?

I just started teaching myself about what I was doing to my body. I learned about those calorie things everyone was talking about. What foods contained what nutrients. Once I knew what was in everything, I desired the crappy foods less and less. I gained a desire to give my body only the best.

I started eating. I spread my calories out over the day. I balanced out my macronutrients, I filled up on nutrient-rich food that kept my hunger at bay.

This of course went hand in hand with fitness. Because good food will give you energy, and you need good food to supply your workouts!

I went from soft and squishy…

To…”omg, is that a bicep I spy???”

I went from barely finishing a quarter mile run…


To running 10ks, and beyond.



Driving home from my exam tonight, I was thinking about all the things I want to teach my clients. I think first and foremost, I want to teach them to value their bodies. I can only do so much as a trainer. The onus is really on the individual to dig deep and find some respect for themselves. I can only provide the tools to help someone along on that journey.

Also every bad thing you’ve ever done to your body can be reversed. Even smoking. Even eating one too many Mini Eggs. It can all be reversed in just one simple choice :)

Upward and onward! Or as Steinbeck put it “Ad astra per alia porci.”

Posted on April 16, 2010, in Fun, Workouts and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 33 Comments.

  1. You’re AMAZING! You inspire me every damn day. You had such an incredible journey and such a healthy one. My personality tends to push my towards one extreme or the other. I’ve gotten so much guidance from you in finding that balanced and healthy approach. Thanks!

    I know you def ROCKED your trainer exam and you’re going to be the best one there is. I only wish I was moving to Toronto sometime soon so you could train me =)

    Nicole G

  2. I’ll cross my fingers for your PT exam!

    I don’t even know if I saved many of my chubby photos. But I can relate to all of these…that “aha” moment…the alcohol photos….oh lordy. Hindsight is 20/20, isn’t it?!

  3. thanks for sharing your story, I loved your ending, so true! :)

  4. Awww what a great and inspiring story! I was the exact same way – no idea what calories in vs. calories out meant and no desire to find out. I honestly didn’t realize that eating an entire box of Mac n’ Cheese was so bad for you! My second year of college I finally figured it out, got my act together and lost 25 pounds! I’m SO happy I did!

  5. GIRLLL you ARE AWESOME :) yeahhh! you are so right about no girl deserve to hate her body. you rock!

  6. Madeline - Greens and Jeans

    Such an inspiring post lady! I definitely had my chubby years when I was in college and even though I stayed fairly active, I am amazed at what my body can do now compared to what it could do then! I am fully confident that you ROCKED your exam!

  7. This was so inspiring! I loved it :) And I also think it’s important to know that becoming vegetarian/vegan is not a good weight loss strategy (because apparently, people do that).

  8. isn’t it weird how we used to smoke? i can’t believe i did for so many years.

  9. My story is a lot like yours, seriously. Except for the beer. It was mixed drinks for me. :)

  10. Fantastic blog Susan! Your story is certainly inspiring and I’m sure you aced your exam.

  11. amazing post, i love to hear stories like this, it’s similar to mine! Good luck with your exam results!

  12. Great post Susan! You have made many changes not only on the outside but inside as well! Your body loves you for that!

  13. Great post!! I’m sure you aced your exam.

    I too was a chubby kid which, led to a chubby teenager, and an overweight young adult. As an adult I “thought” I was eating healthy but now that I know better I am amazed at how ignorant I was when it came to nutrition. I smoked too, and consumed my fair share of alcohol (and I think a few other peoples share too).

  14. You are so cool, Susan, to get such a good grip on things at an earlier stage in life. You are also so cute :D

    I am sure you rocked the test! How long before you find out?

    • Our instructor said she was marking them this weekend, so hopefully next week! I’m legitimately nervous about it, 80% is a high mark to shoot for! I still have to do my practical too – which will be designing a program for a pretend client, then taking one of my friends through a fitness test and an hour-long session while my instructor observes us. Nerve wracking! :\

  15. Great post!!!!! I think it’s really important to remind people that none of the people they look up to as healthy role models have always been that way…it’s a journey and I don’t think it has a final destination because perfection isn’t the goal, and we change as life changes and we meet different challenges.

    Congrats on how far you have come!

    Hope the exam went well!!!! :D

  16. I love that you still had that awesome smile even way back then..
    Im sure i’ve said it before..but seeing ‘this’ side of you just makes you all the more inspiring..
    Jeez..tis a full-time job being amazing huh? haha..
    I hope you did well on the exam..
    I have every faith in you!
    You’ll be in my prayers.. :)

  17. Great story :-) You’ve come so far!!

  18. “But no girl deserves to hate herself and her body, no matter the size.” Geez Susan thanks for almost making me cry at 10 am Saturday morning. I love what you said about every bad choice being cancelled out by the next good one (or the next few good ones, you know what I mean). It’s ALL a journey, right??

  19. Thank you so much for this post. Its such a good one – super inspiring and heartfelt. :)

  20. Good luck to you on passing! :)

    What a great post- you have come so far! You go, girl! =D


  21. I am the worst over-thinker for mult choice test, too! OMG I completely understand ! I am sure you got 80%…and if you didnt, that’s why they offer re-testing :)

    Protein. Yeah, not a fan so much for me. And thx for getting caught up on my posts, you’re sweet :)

    As for the pics here…I think it’s awesome you posted them. I think ive seen a couple here and there in other posts but it’s great to show ppl your transformation!

  22. Test taking is so not fun!! Thanks for sharing your story. You are amazing! No doubt you will inspire your personal training clients to make a huge change in their life.

  23. What an inspiring post! I agree- I don’t think any of us were born healthy eaters! Thank you for sharing.. You are going to be an awesome trainer!!

  24. susan, amazing post. i agree – it is so important to share our stories because people are NOT born healthy, skinny and all that jazz. i feel the same way. for years, i “thought” i knew how to eat, treat my body and workout, but truly i had no idea. i wasn’t obese either – perhaps not even technically overweight, but i knew i wasn’t treating my body the way it deserved to be treated. thank you for this lovely post – you are going to be such an inspiring personal trainer :)

  25. I love this post, I love all your posts! This hits home for me. I am not obese, but not happy with my body and I know it’s up to me to make the necessary changes. No doubt you will be an amazing trainer and will make a difference in your clients’ lives, just like your readers :)

  26. And that above is the exact reason you should be a trainer and clients should flock to you! :o)

    I think your story is awesome and although I don’t like beer I can relate in so many ways. At least you still have chubby pictures of yourself – I cropped myself until you could never see my stomach. And when my stomach was obvious I would get mad at the picture taker for not framing it properly. Way sad. I don’t want to go back to that ever again.

  27. I really needed to read this post tonight. Sometimes I feel like there’s no hope… like I’m too late to be healthy. I hope you’re right…

  28. Once again, I love how open you are. What a great post to share. Flash back fridays are my favorite. You are such an inspiration, sometimes we can never picture someone as “bigger, unfit” but when you see the proof, it makes you respect the person that much more. I’m reading “Master your metabolism” and she speaks about her chubby days…..I don’t know, I don’t really buy it….not a photo in the book to prove it.

    Good luck on your exam, I know you’ll pass with flying colors!

    • Oooh, you should do a review of Master Your Metabolism when you’re done with it – I’d love to hear your thoughts! I listened to all of Jillian’s podcasts and she referred to it a lot.

  29. Yeah Susan.. I love you dude. Seriously. Great post. I thoroughly enjoyed it, even though I already knew your story, it’s something to share! You’re going to be amazing. And I love that you’re really just starting your life! That is awesome.

  30. i have five new posts to read! HOORAY! haha. i will spare you the 5 comments, or i will try to, but i cant make any promises.

    LOVED this flashback. i feel the same way you do.. we are not born perfect and we work dang hard to get into the shape we are in! i hate it when people tell me i have “good genes”~ nope!

    i never get sick of your healthy journey story. or that beer chuggin photo ;)

    congrats on a job well done in health!

    OH and YAY for passing the exam! saw that on twitter, i am SO behind on blogs this week!

  1. Pingback: flashback friday: so long, snowboarding season. « meals & moves

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