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Trina's Teen Days
by a Former Teen
(editorial assistance by "The Observer")

Trina was bored. Trina at ten years of age was home alone most of the day. School was out and it was summer. Trina opened the refrigerator and took out the ice cream. She filled a bowl. It tasted good --- so she had another, and later another. By the end of the day she had finished all the ice cream.

Her parents came home. If they noticed the ice cream was gone they didn't say anything. When her Mom went shopping she just replaced the ice cream. Over the next few weeks Trina went through several half gallon containers. Her brother and older sister made up the shopping list each week and their mother just figured everyone was sharing because the weather was so hot. Not a question was raised. Trina was a skinny girl --- rail thin, a tom boy till now. Weight and gaining issues were never a part of her thinking. After all, she was only ten. This, she would recall years later, was the time she first gave herself permission to eat and enjoy. If her parent's didn't care, why should she? Eating was more fun than just sitting around watching TV. And, besides, she didn't initially notice any change from it. It was just something to do that she gave herself permission to enjoy.

The end of July came. She went to camp for the first time. Everyone got up early and did exercises. Then they ate. And did crafts. Went on hikes. Played games. Ate lunch. Swam in the pool. Rested. Ate some more. It was fun, and all the activity helped stimulated her appetite. By the time the two week camp was over she was used to having seconds. Food was becoming something she was looking forward to --- and she was bugged by the occasional teasing she got over her skinny body.

When she got home Trina had become used to eating well. She had noticed that most all the girls at camp were heavier than her. She was five feet tall, only 85 lbs. Looking in the full-length mirror in her parent's bathroom she realized just how much skin and bones she really was. Even her ribs showed. She went and put on one of her Mother's dresses and stuffed the top. She liked the effect. Then she put a pillow underneath and tied a belt around it. She was much prettier, more like a woman than a boy.

"I should gain some weight," she decided. "I'm just going to have to try to start eating more."

So Trina began doing things with food as well. Like having raisin toast along with cereal and eggs for breakfast. The jelly made it taste extra good. Soon she was having two pieces at breakfast, then two more later after her parents were gone. And of course an extra glass of milk to wash it down. And always some ice cream in the afternoon. But all of this didn't seem to help --- August went and it didn't seem like she had gained a pound. But underneath things were beginning to change. When school resumed Trina was in middle school. She had to get up early for breakfast, just like at camp, and then walked to school. She found this made her get hungry before lunch. So, without telling her parents, she starred helping out in the school cafeteria, which gave her a free meal --- usually pizza or a hamburger. That way she could also scarf down her sack lunch at school before class began. Then she went home and enjoyed her ice cream --- usually only a single large bowl.

Then she started helping her sister Tracy get supper ready for her parents. She appreciated the help and didn't seem to mind that Trina always made enough to have seconds. Her appetite was improving with the training that she had been giving her tummy. And her metabolism was adjusting to the increased intake --- throughout her body new cells to store energy and fill out her form were being created. Of course, at that age, she was not conscious of what was going on. After about six months of improved eating Trina noted that her ribs no longer showed. This told her she was indeed gaining a little weight. Not a whole lot, but her clothes were definitely snug. She was happy, getting good grades, and her mom simply bought her "growing girl" some bigger outfits. She was glad that her mom wasn't bugging her about her weight gain so that she would have to explain. Of course her mom seemed not to know that by now Trina had mastered the art of turning her afternoon ice cream treat into an occasional banana split. Or pie a la mode --- after she had made the pie! By the end of the sixth grade Trina had gained over fifteen pounds and was just over 100 lbs!

It was in the summer of that year that she met Rhonda. She was the same height but a plump thirty pounds heavier than Trina. She introduced Trina to computers. The internet wasn't a big deal yet but video games were and the two mastered every version of Mario Bros they could get their hands on. Rhonda's mom, herself a very large woman, liked Trina keeping her daughter company and made sure there was always plenty of food available, especially pastries. Both girls gained at least five pounds that summer.

The next school year brought the girls about twenty pounds apiece as Trina continued to graze contentedly at every opportunity. She had become a reasonably good cook and food was her favorite hobby. She even checked out books at the library to try different types of recipes. There was never a word about dieting or controlling her calories, and she probably would not have listened had there been such. Rhonda was learning to sew and shared tips with Trina; Trina taught her things about cooking in return. Trina was now 125 pounds and 5"3' --- no longer a skinny waif, but still not really plump.

Trina by now was conscious of her weight, but in a strange way. She was fearful of ever getting skinny again --- and had no desire to cut back on eating. She learned that she could get small pies at the day old bakery for just thirty cents, that on Tuesdays the local pizza place had all-you-can eat chicken and mojos for $4.95, and that different fast food outlets had ninety- nine cent specials that could be very filling. By now she was babysitting and had some money of her own, so 2-3 times a week she used her "research" for an after school snack --- saving her ice cream treat for bed time. Graduation from Junior High saw her thirty pounds heavier. By this time she was 5' 5" and still growing taller as well as rounder. Her growing belly and thighs filled out her slacks. Her her blouse could scarcely conceal the love handles developing along her torso --- but she wasn't trying to hide anything. Anyone could see that her face was becoming round and full, as well as the suppleness of her arms. But she carried her weight well and liked the way she looked. Besides, food was her friend. She knew various ways to obtain and enjoy it --- such negotiating refrigerator privileges with her babysitting clients, even offering to cook for the children and leave some for the adults. Gaining another twenty pounds her first year in high school was a breeze.

Trina kept on getting good grades and was also involved in school clubs. From this she made enough friends to be invited on dates and have a social life. Even though she was now over 175 at 5' 7" she entered her Sophomore year relatively free of the insecurities that some heavier teens have. Sometimes other girls would talk about food and she would simply reply "I'm glad to be me and not someone having to worry about their weight all the time." Rhonda having topped 200 and the growth of her own breasts (finally!) probably didn't hurt either. Trina didn't realize it yet, but she had learned an important principle. Size is not what makes a person popular with those who count, but rather how you treat others. Trina's secret was the respect and interest she extended to virtually everyone; her caring, get involved, attitude is what most people remembered about her. Today she tells people that, then she was still too young to analyze what was going on.

In those days she was simply college bound and aware of it --- getting seriously involved with boys was not her concern anyway. But, when she was taken out, she never met a dessert she didn't like. And the boys liked the fact that she wasn't picky about her food. With Trina's attitude about food you can guess what happened. She easily accomplished another fifteen pounds --- and another 20 over the next two years. But then she stabilized, having reached her "set point." Part of it may be that she became a little more nutrition and exercise conscious the last two years of high school, but she still never tried to diet. She knew that it "wouldn't be her." A few more inches in college and she settled down around 5' 8," 235, until she got married. Two kids added a few more pounds, but she is still quite healthy and totally diet free.

Which is something about my sister, Trina, that I point out to my wife today whenever she starts fussing about a few pounds.