Fat girl abroad – April’s Story

“Oh I’m sorry, here, we can leave it like this,” the young man with thick and dark glasses said to me as he lifted up the arm rest between our seats by a few inches.  I was just settling myself into my new 31 x 17 inch airplane seat that I would be calling home for the next 360 minutes of my life when I was suddenly thrown off guard by how large my thighs may truly be.  I quietly muttered “thanks” as I lifted my legs more into a straight upright seated position, rather than my awkward yet comfortable leg position that makes women of all sizes thigh’s fluff out a little when fully relaxed.  Magically, my  thighs went from fluffy to firm and provided multiple inches between myself and glasses man. I know the man was just trying to make me feel more comfortable for my final flight home from Europe, but it just added to the bitter sting of moments when I felt ashamed of my body on my trip.

Fluffy thighs helping to proudly display my awesome building I made at the Museum of Liverpool

Fluffy thighs helping to proudly display my awesome building I made at the Museum of Liverpool

Just in case you were unaware of where I’ve been for the past five weeks, I’ve been gallivanting around many, many countries in Europe.  My strong yet large thighs, calves, and feet have carried me across England, Wales, Ireland, France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, and Portugal!  By the end of my trip, I was feeling so proud of myself and the amount of walking I was doing every day.  It was an easy day if I had walked anything less than three miles over a span of a few hours and those days were very rare.  I even began running up stairs JUST BECAUSE I KNEW I COULD!  (but I’ll blog about my love affair with stairs later…)

My thighs looking much firmer outside Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland.

My thighs looking much firmer outside Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland.

Regardless of what my physical condition was for my body, people were not seeing me trot up stairs like a unicorn running towards a rainbow of sparkles.  People were seeing me as my thighs smashed outward or when I would step inside a crowded elevator to looks that made me believe the people were  thinking  “Is this girl seriously going to try to squeeze in here?”  Like Alyssa dealt with on her Thailand vacation, I sometimes felt very out-of-place as I wandered across many of the countries I visited.  In some places, like England and Ireland, I didn’t feel as different as there were plenty of overweight people around.  There definitely wasn’t as many hefty folks as I’m used to seeing here in the United States, but I didn’t feel nearly as ashamed as I did when I visited places like France and Switzerland (last year).

I noticed the stares the most while I was in Portugal.  My Couchsurfing host tried to assure me that people only stared because they are not used to tall blonde girls but the way the looks made me feel said otherwise.  There was one instance that my host took me to his local market shop and I had one woman give me a complete stare down, turn back to her six friends sitting around a table and say something in Portuguese, only to have every single person at that table look at me as well.  I’m not used to these kinds of looks and it made me feel incredibly self-conscious.The thing about other places outside of the United States is that many of the people of the world simply DO NOT live like an American and thus tend to be on the thinner side of the body size spectrum… at least in my own theory.  While I was in Europe, I spent my time using public transportation and my own two feet to get me where I needed to go.  I didn’t seem to even notice the amount of walking I was truly doing every day just because it had become a normal part of my life.  I didn’t have a car and the only time I was really excited to be in one is when my Couchsurfing host took me to the gorgeous town of Sintra, Portugal on a route that was MUCH easier with a private set of wheels.

The Palace lakes in Sintra, Portugal

As much as Portugal made me feel ashamed of my body size, I experienced the opposite feeling while visiting the beach town of Cascais.  Upon walking on to the gorgeous but crowded beach, I immediately noticed the vast array of women in bikinis.  I explained to another Couchsurfing girl friend, in the United States, once you turn a certain age, you are no longer allowed to flaunt your figure.  Your selection of “appropriate swim wear” quickly drops into a tiny assortment of one piece bathing suits with underwire for sagging breasts and skirts already attached, ready to hide your aging thighs.  You also aren’t supposed to wear a bikini if you have any sort of flab going on with your stomach.  If you can sit down and have a small pouch ready for a kangaroo to jump into, surely you shouldn’t be wearing a bikini.

In Cascais, however, none of that seemed to matter.  Many women over sixty were proudly rocking their metallic bikinis with the sun glistening off their gray hair and golden bodies.  Women with double chins and double rolls of back fat tied on small triangles for swimsuit bottoms and tops and showed no shame at all as they made their ways to swim in the non-judgmental waters of the Atlantic.  I immediately felt less worried about how I looked and became fascinated with how comfortable everyone on the beach was in their own skin.  Some men wore small spandex bathing suits and a few women were completely topless, all without a single long stare from the crowded beach.

The Queen’s Beach in Cascais, Portugal. Not a single one-piece bathing suit in sight.

I left my afternoon at the beach feeling much more confident and as I walked back from the train station to my temporary home, instead of my eyes cowering down to the sidewalk as I would catch people looking at me, I would stare them straight in the eye and give them a smile that matched my big body.


Now that I’m home and feel at peace to be back with my fellow overweight Americans, I feel more dedicated to finally getting off the rest of this weight.  I definitely lost weight over my five weeks abroad, anywhere between six and twelve pounds, depending on the scale I used to judge this by.  I can tell the most though by the clothes I brought as everything just simply is looser on me.

I shall be getting back to my normal routines of healthy eating and exercising as I feel more dedicated than ever to get a grip on my health.  I’ve got a bunch of reviews to do, including a detox program by the Italian company, Erba Vita.  In true April fashion, however, I am ending my gluttony with Dutch cookies (stroop-wafels) and a Coke from McDonald’s.  Alyssa specifically told me I had to fess up to my poor behavior for the day, that “You’re gonna need to blog that. Anything you say can and will be used against you.”  So just for her, I shall admit to my sinful eating with much pleasure as I know the next many months will require much more discipline if I successfully want to get off the last fifty pounds of excess weight.

I’m happy to be home and excited to share more tidbits of my time abroad with you all over the next few days.

Enjoy your Tuesday!


April Post: Walking my way through Europe

Guten tag Double Chinners from Cologne, Germany!!!

From the last time I wrote, I spent time in Cardiff, Wales (hi Rob!), Galway and Dublin, Ireland (hi Seán!) along with a day in Liverpool and another four days in the rectal region of the UK (London).  After a day in Brussels, I am now happily hanging out in my hotel room in Deutschland!

It’s been twenty days now since I first landed in Europe and I think I have easily walked about 100 miles.

My friend Rob showed me a lovely time in Wales and proved to me that the Welsh are way more friendly and relaxed than what I had been used to encountering in London. As we strolled along the river walk out towards the sea, I took occasional moments to stop and enjoy the crisp air.  I ate fabulous Turkish food and enjoyed amazing Welsh beer called Double Dragon and Tangled Foot. It is pretty rare for me to find new beers I like but Rob amazed me by introducing me to two new beers that I loved enough to get mentioned on this blog. After spending the afternoon walking, Rob informed me that we had done at least 5 miles. I was pretty proud of myself as even by then, a week into my trip, that my legs and feet showed no signs of exhaustion.

The Ashford Castle in Cong, Ireland

The Ashford Castle in Cong, Ireland

After my journey to Wales, I headed out to meet Seán in Galway. I had been really excited to see Ireland as I’m borderline obsessed with the country since I suspected it to be gorgeous and full of smiley people. My suspicions were confirmed as my plane came down and broke free of the gray clouds that had been engulfing my $66 RyanAir flight. Below me the bright blue shoreline hugged the emerald isle and brought happy tears to my eyes as we descended down towards Dublin Airport. Once landed, I walked through the airport to catch my bus from one coast to the other.  I spent the next two days wandering through Galway and a small town called Cong, adding more miles to the distance my shoes had walked.

Speaking of shoes… I don’t know if I ever got to write about one of the best birthday gifts I received a few months ago!  After reading my post about how I needed new tennis shoes and didn’t want to spend too much money, my good friend Ronnie did some undercover work with Alyssa to find out my shoe size and sent me a snazzy new pair of Nike’s, knowing that they would get good use in Europe.  Ronnie was right, if it wasn’t for his generous gift my poor tootsies would probably be covered with blisters and unable to rack up the miles like I’ve been doing… so big thank you to Ronnie Follmann for being so awesome and thoughtful.

Continuing on, my cousins Anna and Jenny came into Dublin on the 24th of June and we spent our time doing what I apparently do best – MORE WALKING!  We walked from the Dublin city center down to the docklands and caught a plane back to the UK after two days in Dublin.  We walked around the city of Liverpool exploring sites like The Cavern, where the Beatle’s first played together.   After our quick day in Liverpool, we took a train for $5 to London and walked some more!!!  I took them to spots like The Natural History Museum and common tourist attractions like Big Ben and Westminster Abbey.

The inside of The Cavern in Liverpool, England where the Beatle's first played together

The inside of The Cavern in Liverpool, England where the Beatle’s first played together

I also convinced them to do some yoga with me in Regent’s Park, the lovely park I had done yoga in two weeks before.  I taught them all sorts of poses and had them test the difference of their flexibility before we started our stretches and after we were done.  Both my cousins were impressed with the flexibility they gained after only ten minutes and I have a feeling they may give yoga a shot again someday.  We had a few spectators during our yoga session and afterwards I joked about how I should go give them one of my Double Chin Diary business cards so they could contact me for their own personal lesson.   I’ve given out a ton of my handy little cards Alyssa made me so hopefully we gained a few more readers – speak up if you’re one of my new European friends now reading our blog!

April doing her tree pose in front of Big Ben in London

April doing her tree pose in front of Big Ben in London

I also managed to get my first black eye ever while dancing with my cousin Jenny in our tiny hotel room in London.  Apparently if you are going to dance to the Cupid’s Shuffle, you want to make sure you have enough space so you don’t bump heads and accidentally get a black eye.  My eye swelled up faster than a marshmallow in a microwave and caused me to have my first session of crying on my trip.  I was so scared that it would spread through my entire eye but luckily it’s remained only on my eyelid, making it quite easy to cover up with the help of Mac concealer and dark eye shadow from Estee Lauder.

April's punishment for dancing

April’s punishment for dancing

Have any of you ever had a black eye before?  How did you get yours?  How long did yours last?  It’s been a week now and it’s slowly getting better but is still quite obvious..  so I’m curious as to when this will finally go away.

Have you ever exercised in a public place?  It’s taken me some courage to get over going into “downward dog” in front of people but I keep telling myself if it’s alright for people to prance around shirtless or in sport’s bras and covered in sweat, it’s alright for me to do some soothing stretches under some trees.

I’ve got two more weeks left and still have Paris, Amsterdam, Madrid, and Lisbon set for my future.  I’m very excited because most of our crazy dashing around will be over by Saturday once Anna and I get into Amsterdam with my friends Anton and Jarno.

Is there anywhere you all recommend that we see in any of those places?

Lots of love from abroad,