I didn’t chose to be overweight; I was raised to be. I grew up in a household where big portions were the norm, and I was as programmed to “finish everything on my plate” as I was to say thank you, please and yes ma’am. I loved food. I hated being fat. Being thick became challenging around middle school because that’s when the boys started busting jokes on me. I’d get called “Big Coryndi.” The girls were cruel, too. Once, in high school, a friend relayed that she overheard some girls gossiping about me. In sum, they couldn’t believe that I–size 14–had landed one of the cutest boys in our freshman class since I was “all big.”  My high school boyfriend, who became my husband, always told me he loved me at any size. But I didn’t. After I gave birth to our son in 2007 I was at wits end. By that time I’d ballooned up to a size 18/20. All of the coping mechanisms I’d developed to hide my shame of being big were falling short. I started dressing in a slovenly fashion. I still wore my maternity pants–and panties. I was a mess. No, actually, I was depressed. One day a girlfriend pulled me aside and gave it to me straight: How could I love my husband or my son if I couldn’t love myself. That’s when I decided I would be more than a fat girl with a sassy mouth and a pretty face. It was time to look deeper. What was my truth? For me, being chunky meant never feeling pretty or worthy. Over the years I’d learned to hide that insecurity with fly big girl clothes–yes, they make them–and killer sarcasm, but the bravado was all a faade. I was not happy. More importantly, I wasn’t healthy, mentally or physically. My sense of unworthiness manifested in many ways. I was successful career-wise but lacked true inner confidence. I never felt seen, and I really didn’t want to be. Ironically, my big stature made me feel empty inside. I yearned to be truly full and filled with self-confidence, happiness and pride. In 2007 I attended a Weight Watchers meeting that transformed my life. The message was clear: Food is a fuel. I had to stop using it for any other purpose.  During that first meeting I sat in the back–my inner little girl who was scared of being bullied or judged was definitely in attendance–but I made a commitment to myself that things would be different. Over the years I’d tried every type of weight loss program, from the Grapefruit Diet to the Atkins Diet, and none had lasting results. I finally knew why. Losing weight is a lifestyle change. Today I control my portions, exercise regularly and use food as a fuel, not an indulgence.   I’m proud to say that I am a happy, healthy size 8. Moreover, I’m not just delighted when I look in the mirror; I’m ecstatic about who I’ve become. My weight loss journey showed me that my true passion is helping others. It started in my home. I’m a mom and wife who taught the men she loves the value of eating healthy. I get tickled when my husband asks for brown rice or my son opts for apples instead of French fries if we do a quick fast food stop. But I didn’t stop with them. I’m a group leader in my region with Weight Watchers, which means I spearhead weekly support groups. I do about two to five meetings per week and I am proud to say my gatherings, even those held on Fridays, are packed. My motto is “I’m hot and you can be too”. The members eat it up, figuratively of course. I encourage them to change their lifestyle and find a size that they can maintain. I don’t want them to just watch their weight change. I want them to watch their lives change. I love the new woman I’ve become. She’s spunky, charismatic and loves to teach. I admire her. I adore her. I am proud of her–did I mention she’s hot and smart? She’s even pursuing a career in education to fully actualize her life’s passion. She has the lifestyle I’ve always wanted. We’re totally in balance. Read more: