A look at the realities of being an overweight female in Thailand and a lifelong struggle with being overweight.
This post is a part of the year-long Comfort Zone Project.

“Oh, why you so pom pui?” People ask me. Strangers. Friends. You name it.

Pom pui.

You’d think one of the first words I would learn in Thailand would be how to ask someone’s name, or how to ask for directions. But, nope. One of the first words I learn other than “drunk” is pom pui or “fat.”

And that is because everyone asks me why I am fat. Or tells me I am fat. Or says I am soai  (beautiful) followed by pom pui. 

Fat AND beautiful. Now, that is a nice backhanded compliment. Thankyouverymuch.

Unlike in Western cultures, weight here isn’t one of those hush-hush things. It’s an in-your-face thing. Comments people make here that would make me cry if someone Western was saying it simply roll of my back. Or, they try to roll off my back.

But.

After awhile, those “you’re fat” comments begin to take a toll.

Skinny is everywhere in Thailand. If you’re above a size 8 (and I think I’m being quite forgiving when I say that), you won’t be able to find cute clothes. I’m a size 10 or 12 (depending on the day), and yeah, shopping at the department stores leaves me feeling defeated when I look at a pair of pants that can’t even fit an arm through the leg, let alone my ass.

The only place I can shop is Tesco Lotus, and then it is clothing that is more like a tent than anything cute and form-fitting.

I’ve always battled with being overweight, and here in Chiang Mai, it is a constant reminder of those battles.

The Skinny Syndrome and Las Vegas

When I lived in Las Vegas, I lived in a world where beauty was directly attributed to a tiny waist, big bust (check), spray tan and hair extensions. It had nothing to do with anything else. You got further in Vegas if you were skinny, and I was not a fool.

Even when work asked that I get a headshot, the photographer worked magic.

Impress headshot of Diana Edelman | A look at the realities of being an overweight female in Thailand and a lifelong struggle with being overweight.

Just a tweak here and a tweak there and you’re perfect.

“I’m just going to make your nose a little smaller, your eyes a little bigger, your teeth a little straighter, your face a little smaller … oh, but you are beautiful,” he said, as he Photoshopped me to a younger illustration (or caricature) of myself.

After only a few months in Sin City, I began to do PR for a doctor who shall remain nameless because after years of following his business, I think he is the most unethical doctor I’ve ever met or heard of. This good doctor had a weight loss program that basically was a cocktail of diet pills and seizure pills that resulted in the heaviest of people transforming quickly into slimmer versions of themselves.

As I sat on the table after getting an EKG done, he looked at me and said “You’re going to be blown away by how fat you are.”

I kid you not.

Sure, I was tipping the scales at 200 at that time, but for a doctor to tell me that broke my heart. And yes, it is his job, but to say so in such a callous way …

He handed me two bottles of pills, a Phentermine concoction for the mornings and Topomax for the evenings, and prescribed me a weekly fat burning shot.

Yosemite 2005 Diana Edelman | A look at the realities of being an overweight female in Thailand and a lifelong struggle with being overweight.

Hiking in Yosemite. Down to a size nothing in 2005.

The shit worked. Within six months I had gone from a size 16 to a six four. I had gone from fat to toothpick. It was a miracle drug, but it had its prices. My vision became blurry. My heart would race like I had just snorted an entire eight-ball of coke for breakfast. I was skinny, but it wasn’t me.

New Years Diana Edelman | A look at the realities of being an overweight female in Thailand and a lifelong struggle with being overweight.

Ringing in the New Year in 2006. Just look at that neck.

As the good doctor put it, I was now sexy. I had newfound attention from men. I had gone from the ugly duckling in the corner watching all of the couples snuggling to the girl with guys at her side. I had gone from the girl who hid her body behind enormous, billowy shirts to the girl wearing tight dresses. I had the body I had always dreamed of.

Until I didn’t.

After nearly a year of taking the pills, I decided to stop them. Cold turkey. Within months, my weight shot back up and I was back to the loose clothing.

People would look at me with their brow furrowed, casting me their deepest sympathies for my weight gain. I was back to being the girl in the corner.

It was then I made the conscious decision that I would not let those stares ruin me. I would not let those stares define me and my body. I would take control. I enrolled at the gym and started working out. I didn’t get back to a size four, but I made sure I could have control over my weight.

The thing about weight-loss is, you have to be all in, or not at all.

I had worked out for about six months when I started to get depressed, and soon even lacing up my sneakers was a challenge. So, instead I ate. Papa John’s. McDonalds. I drank. I did whatever I could to camouflage my insecurities by doing something I could control — my intake of food and drink.

January 2009 | A look at the realities of being an overweight female in Thailand and a lifelong struggle with being overweight.

The Great Weight Gain: 2007 – 2009. Taken Jan. 2009.

But, when your intake trumps your exertion, you gain weight. So, I ballooned back to the weight I was when I arrived in Vegas.

It’s all about control

It wasn’t until I left Vegas and relocated to Atlanta that I finally was able to control my weight again. For at least six months. Then, depression again. Weight gain again.

A look at the realities of being an overweight female in Thailand and a lifelong struggle with being overweight.

Four months later … skinnier in Atlanta, thanks to hour-long cardio and personal training most of every week.

I thought traveling would make me skinny, so when I set out for my career-break, I decided I would lose weight. I lost a little — there’s something to be said for walking places with a huge backpack on your back that causes those calories to just burn, burn, burn.

I returned to America a smaller version of myself, but still not happy. I looked in the mirror and saw a fat, fat girl who hated herself for not being able to control her own body.

A look at the realities of being an overweight female in Thailand and a lifelong struggle with being overweight.

“You’re pretty, but I don’t date big girls and from this picture, you look like a big girl,” one guy told me via e-mail. Photo: Ronda Churchill.

Of course, the normal lose weight-gain weight battle once again ensued upon my arrival back to Vegas. I was up to five days a week at the gym, busting out an hour of cardio a pop, followed by yoga or pilates. I was counting calories. Cutting down on the booze. And, then, I wasn’t. Again. Because it is all cyclical.

The expat life

When I moved to Thailand, I was the heaviest I had ever been. Standing in front of the mirror in my room at Smith, looking at myself naked … I would burst into tears.

I. Am. So. Fat.

Sri Lanka | A look at the realities of being an overweight female in Thailand and a lifelong struggle with being overweight.

At my heaviest in September 2012 in Sri Lanka.

Thoughts would race through my mind. I will never find someone to kiss me again. I will never find someone to sleep with again. I will never find someone to love me.

The worst part about living in Thailand and being overweight, is living in Thailand and being a western women. The chances of finding a guy are nearly zero.

I’ve always operated with the belief that beauty is everywhere … that I shouldn’t have to be skinny to fall in love or to have someone fall in love with me. That no one should be anyone they are not … that as people, we are all gorgeous, whether skinny, fat, short, tall, etc. I’ve dated men who I wasn’t initially attracted to, but as I got to know them, they turned into the world’s hottest people.

Attraction is important, yes. But, there are other things, too. And, I always held tight to the belief that people would like me simply for me. For my heart. For my mind. For my passion. Not because I am or am not a size four.

I guess I’m not everyone.

A look at the realities of being an overweight female in Thailand and a lifelong struggle with being overweight.

A year after Sri Lanka and 20 lbs lighter

Even as the pounds began to fall off — a total change in diet (cutting out meat), along with sweltering heat and sweating my weight out of me daily — dropped the scale about 20 pounds. But, it didn’t matter. People saw me the same. Fat. Pom pui.

And soon, it became just a part of my life. Everyone commenting (and I mean everyone — strangers, friends, people I see everyday and can only exchange bits of broken Thai or English), even when their comments were not asked for or welcomed.

I have no idea why anyone thinks it is ok to tell someone they would be so much prettier/better/etc. if they weren’t fat.

Sometimes, it boggles my mind.

I don’t look at them and say, “you know, you would be better if you pulled that stick out of your ass and completely rearranged your face?” It would certainly not be met with an understanding smile. So, why the double standard? Why is it OK for someone to give you their opinion about what makes you “not worthy” of being loved? And since when does weight become the single most important factor in any part of life?

I know people here don’t mean it to cause pain. It is either no big deal since calling someone “fat” is normal, or they tell me because they think it can help me become a better me. But that doesn’t mean it just rolls off my back. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t impact my self-esteem. Or the way I feel about myself.

Today, I’ve grown accustomed to being “fat” even though my weight continues to drop. Men here still don’t look at me. And, I still get judged as to the person I am based on my clothing size.

Is it disheartening? Yes. Is it defeating? Yes. Is it life? Sadly, so long as I live  here, it is. No amount of weight loss … no amount of lifestyle change will ever amount to me having the Thai version of a perfect body.

While it used to make me sad (hence, staring at the mirror in tears), today I look at myself and think “fuck you. Really. Fuck. You. If you don’t like me for who I am, cellulite and all, then please. Do me a favor. Fuck yourself and go find a skinny woman who will be your everything.”

A look at the realities of being an overweight female in Thailand and a lifelong struggle with being overweight.

January 2014. Still losing weight and now time to get healthy.

Because I am worth more than my weight.

At the same time, I want to give myself a chance to kick this once and for all. I want to look in the mirror with confidence, even if the people around me don’t see the beauty I possess, regardless of whether I am 100 or 200 pounds.

It is one of the reasons why I started The Comfort Zone Project — because I want to push myself to be the best version of me I can be, and give myself the best version of the life I am living.

I enrolled in a gym. I hired a personal trainer. Drinks are cut down to twice a week. Smoking is going to stop.

Either I will be a fat girl in Thailand and embrace the shit out of it, or I will do my damned best to be the not-so-fat girl in Thailand and love myself. Because, you know what? I deserve it.

155 comments

  1. Oh wow, it sounds like you’re doing great! Congratulations on taking such positive steps. We should definitely meet up – I’ll message you!

    The app is called Bodytrack.it and it lets you log your weight and measurements and take regular photos so you can see how you’re progressing. The downside of weigh-in days is that the only scales I can find are the verrrry public ones you get outside Tesco. The one I use plays There’s No Place Like Home when you put in your 1 baht. Nothing like announcing that you’re weighing yourself eh?

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  2. Thank you for writing this post and I appreciate the honesty and courage it took for you to be open about it. It’s the Asian culture to be so brute and forward about things like these (weight, appearance) and to be skirmish and coy about many other things.
    When I go back to see my family in the Philippines after a few years of not seeing each other, the first thing they note is if I have gained or lost weight (and will be the first greeting before they even ask how you are)
    You’re doing an awesome job achieving a positive goal and I admire your attitude towards this. 🙂

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  3. Great post. Thailand is going through this strange globalization right now that is making western (lack of) values more prevalent. As a result, all these slimming and plastic surgery centers are everywhere. There is a rift in more traditional Thai values between what is considered beautiful (it used to have more to do with skin color, hair length, etc than weight). In smaller towns and villages, and sometimes Chiang Mai, I do hear people saying “he/she is pboom pui… they’re cute”. Even though it seems backhanded for us westerners, sometimes it is a compliment. Till I was about 26, I wore size 28 jeans. Now, I wear 30 and people tell me I got fat. It’s the Thai way.

    I hate saying it shouldn’t bother you because I get bothered by certain things that are culturally OK in Thailand as much as I tell myself not to take it personally. I could always teach you some nice sarcastic retorts for people who say that stuff to you? Whenever people talk about me as the ‘farang’, I look at my skin, freak out, and yell ‘holy shit, I’m white!” or point at them and go “Asia! Asia!” 🙂

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    1. Yeah, it really is interesting. I’ve never taken it as a compliment, but I’ve never taken it as a statement coming from a cruel place. I like your retorts!!

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  4. So fantastic of you to open up about this. After reading a few blog posts similar to yours, I’ve been preparing myself for similar comments! I think I may be at the final level within acceptable sizes there. I have size 8 feet, a size 4 or 6 body, and I’m 5’5 – hopefully I’ll be able to squeeze in, literally.

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  5. Hey Diana, thank you for sharing such an intimate post that must have taken you a lot of courage to write.
    I just wanted you to know that you are a beautiful woman and please don’t let the comments of others, keep you down. Its due to their insecurities and not yours. You have great hair and a lovely smile and you WILL find that great love, and whoever he is won’t care about the way you appear, but the way you are. 🙂 🙂

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to read the post. ❤ I really appreciate your kind words and support!! I'm actually at a point in my life now, thanks to getting healthy, that I am really happy with who I am, and really happy just being me.

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  6. Hey Diana,

    Powerful post. I’ve been a fan of your blog for a while now, but this post really resonated with me. I’ve never been skinny and spent the best part of my teens and 20s wishing that I were. When I was younger, I had a very unhealthy relationship with food – I’d starve myself for days, only to binge eat myself into oblivion afterwards. At one point I was, indeed, rather small, but I was miserable – I was constantly moody, irritable, and upset.

    This battle continued for the majority of my 20s and it’s taken me a very long time to develop a healthy relationship with my body. I discovered Bikram a few years back, and it enabled me to tone up and finally feel great about myself. Now I’m into weight lifting. I still wake up on plenty of days wishing my stomach was smaller, my arms less flabby, but I’ve realised that the pursuit of perfection is a fallacy. It never stops. The key is to do whatever you do – whether that’s healthy eating or fitness regimes – in the pursuit of being healthier and stronger. And that’s what I go to the gym for now – to get stronger. This change of mindset has really helped me, and I now think FUCK society and its fucked up ideals. I am who I am, flaws and all.

    Keep up the great blog.

    Andrea

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  7. Hi Diana 🙂

    New to your blog and have probably spent the past 3 hours reading through it. I love all the honesty and emotion you put into your writing. It’s good to be reminded at times it’s not always rainbow and sunshines living as an expat, traveling, and just in general.

    Anyways, just wanted to say you’re beautiful inside and out. And you’re definitely right—learning to love yourself regardless is the best route to give everyone who doesn’t accept you the middle finger. Easier said than done of course but either way good on ya and wishing you the best 🙂

    x

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    1. Hi Mariana! Welcome and thank you so much!! It means so much to me that you have been reading and took the time to comment! 🙂 Thank you so much for the kind words!! xo

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  8. I related to a lot of this. I am going into my eigth year I’m Asia, two in China and the rest here in Japan. I think we are about the same size. I was really sad to hear you call yourself fat – I guess before I would sometimes use that adjective to describe myself, but not any more, so I felt sad to read that label attached to you. You aren’t fat. And even if you were overweight or even obese, no one should talk to you that way. You’re beautiful. I don’t know what happened but about two years ago I just stopped trying to “over-adapt” – appearance means a lot here in Tokyo but f-ck it. I’m the only Caucasian brunette I’m my field of vision most days, except at work. I’ve decided I will define what beautiful is for me because I’m the only one of me around. Which is true for anyone actually. I glare at people if their staring bothers me and I hold my head up high and stick my chest out even if it means I might attract a grope. We are beautiful and I wonder if people throw out these comments because they know we are strong. I think the men here are sexy, have been successful dating and love my life here. It’s

    Tokyo is probably a bit easier than Thailand though. You’re awesome and gorgeous. Find out how to say ‘Why don’t you have boobs?’ Or ‘Why are you so short?’ In Thai and reply with that. It’s great to be a better person and not reply to mean ignorance with the same but we can’t be perfect all the time.

    Have a great day gorgeous ❤

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    1. Wow — Asia for eight years?!? That is impressive!! I love your attitude and think it is wonderful to think like that. I feel really good about myself these days, but sadly, regardless of how I feel, the culture here is to say something to people about their weight. It isn’t meant to be mean or rude, it is just a statement. And, pom poi is actually a “cute” way to express someone being overweight. I’ve gotten used to it and now just brush it off. Plus, since I posted that, I have lost quite a bit of weight by adopting a healthy lifestyle, so now the comments tend to be “you were fat and now you are not fat.” Backhanded, but nice to hear all the same.

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  9. Thank you so much for sharing this post! It’s exactly what I’ve been needing to hear over the past week. It’s wonderful knowing someone gets how I feel. You’re gorgeous, no matter what. Keep on doing you 🙂

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    1. You are so welcome. I don’t ever want people to think life is perfect and sharing the struggles are just as important as sharing the triumphs. Thank you for the kind words, Amber!

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  10. Holy crap, D. SERIOUSLY. Ho. Lee. Crap. I can ‘t even imagine. I’m so sorry, for the pain and the humiliation and all the other difficult emotions wrapped up in a big ol’ ball of THIS SUCKS. Growing up, both Mary & I dealt with weight issues and self-esteem issues, but I can’t even fathom what it must be like to deal with that crap in a culture where it’s OK to call people fat to their face. But I am very glad that you are getting healthy– not for them, but for you. I’ve dropped 50 pounds since I adopted the non-FODMAP diet, and am feeling stronger and healthier than I have in decades. Kudos to you for writing this brave story, and for taking the steps to make yourself healthy and happy with who you are. Because you are awesome.

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    1. Thank you, Bret. I’ve never felt humiliated, but when I first got here, it was quite hard to stomach the comments. I mean, in America, they just whisper it behind your back, or your best friends tough love you. It isn’t one of those things said in passing though, like “oh, hey the sky is blue and you’re fat.” I did get used to it and eventually, it really played a part in inspiring me to get healthy. That is a large reason why I set up The Comfort Zone Project. I could either sit back and be a “victim” of the situations I was putting myself in/allowing/accepting, or be in a place where I felt good, loved myself and was happy. Seven months after that post was published, I am happy to see I am at that point. Thank you for the kind words!

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  11. Loved your post – there’s a strange dichotomy of what is beauty across the globe. Although, I want you to know, as I read and saw all your photos through the years, all I saw was a beautiful person.

    Keep doing things for yourself, and the rest can fuck off. Love and change and happiness show up just around the time when that “fuck off” as echoed off the pillars and you’ve got the buzz of that high of how good that feels ringing in your ears.

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    1. Thank you so much, Sarita. I appreciate it. There is a strange dichotomy, you are absolutely right. I feel so good now that I have adopted a healthier lifestyle, and a life truly just for me and my happiness and no one else’s. It is a powerful feeling.

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  12. Hi Diane, Cultural norms can be very disconcerting and painful to folks outside that culture. I lived in Russia during my thirties. Although “married” I was there alone. I cannot tell you how insistent business associates, neighbors, friends, & strangers were in demanding an explanation for my childlessness. As a person who was not anti-child, just smart enough to know that my situation was not conducive to successfully rearing them, the comments ranged from annoying to intrusive – to downright horrible, hurtful and insulting. And yes I understood it was nothing personal – just a “cultural thing.” That didn’t make it any easier. As for weight it’s something I’ve fought my whole life too – in fact while my sister was winning medals as a champion figure skater (wearing size 0 – 2), I was eating and reading and eating … my great childhood claim to fame was a modeling stint at a chubby shop. In my late twenties I finally decided that I am who I am (weight-wise at least.) Most helpful was when I figured out what I need to ingest (or not!) to eliminate the bouncing blood sugar that’d plagued me for years – a side effect to the discovery was that it also leveled out my weight to one I can live with. My sister is still many inches thinner (and has 2 kids) – but I’m stable within the realm of “normal.” That said, the thought of a bathing suite is abhorrent and I haven’t worn one in years. Anyway, what I know from reaching the fifth decade is that it’s worth the pain to reach beyond ourselves and cultural expectations and EXPLORE life. And anyway, sometimes those thoughtless comments from other people are really about something else: Are you ‘this way’ because your life is better/more prosperous/more exciting/more fulfilled/more interesting/more something … than mine? Let them wonder, it may encourage them to a little exploration too. And let’s keep exploring, Sister There’s another adventure right around the corner.

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  13. Hi Diana
    You are truly lovely inside and out and going by the response you have had so many others think so.
    O.M.G. Although I’m not a young thing everyone on this site including you are so slim compared to my size 20 British bulk!
    Iam coming to Thailand for the first time to visit my daughter who works there and it looks like I will be hearing the dreaded phrase over and over plus they can add how white iam….can’t wait! We are actually coming to Chiang Mai end of December for 6 nights and would be keen to visit the elephant park. If there is any chance it would be lovely to meet you as your sense of humour is great. Well done for pursuing a healthy lifestyle it’s more important than being a skinny Minnie!

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Lynn. I find that people who don’t know you won’t really open their mouths and comment. It is the friends and people who are more comfortable who say something. They will love how white you are — it is one of the things most Thai people want to be. I won’t be there, unfortunately. But, please let me know how your time at ENP is!

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  14. Well said, Dianna.

    I just returned from a trip to Vietnam, where I was mocked daily for being overweight.
    Being overweight isn’t good, but the strangers who mock foreign tourists might have another agenda. They’ll look for fault.
    An educated Viet told me I was being stereotyped as being a corrupt boursgoise and whore-mongering western middle aged male. The only truth there is that I’m middle aged and western.
    I admire the Vietnamese for their achievements, and a trip to Vietnam (for most) is a trip worth the time and expense. However, if you’re overweight, expect to get a hard time. And be careful with your money.

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    1. Wow — that is really some stereotyping! I found in Thailand, it didn’t have anything to do with that. It was simply a casual attitude towards talking about weight. Regardless of the reasons why people say it, it is an important thing to know what to expect when visiting a country. Definitely not an easy thing to hear, that’s for sure!

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  15. Hello Diana.

    Sometimes, it was just a casual remark in my case. A couple of times it wasn’t.
    Regardless, I’d still return to Vietnam. I’d go more rural. The country is enchanting, and the people seem kinder.
    One just needs a thick skin (figuratively speaking) in the cities 🙂

    Keep up the good work.

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  16. First, Diana, thank you for your post. I am so sorry for what you’ve been through, having lived it myself, as a male.

    And thank you Ian. I am a guy in the southern US dying to get out of McWorld and go to Thailand, and have been wondering about the practical issues (will I fit on a train to Surat Thani)? This culture sounds ridiculously unhealthy. Fuck their pristine beaches, I guess?

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    1. It certainly opened my eyes to the way other cultures view weight. In a way, it was actually refreshing — albeit difficult — because none of it was said with the intention of being hurtful or cruel. The culture certainly is different from the States — the women in particular.

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  17. I have no idea how I’m just now seeing this , but the timing is perfection. This is such an incredibly beautiful post. I lost a significant amount of weight several years ago – and then life happened in the second half of 2012. A serious injury that put a halt of my running and a start to coping with life in a not-so-healthy way. In the years since I put on a significant amount of the weight I had gained and lost a lot of joy and self respect in the process. Your post is beautiful. These days as I embrace healthier habits once again I am a walking hashtag. #Controlthecontrollable, I tell myself. #Lookintheirrornotsidetoside I say about not only not comparing myself to others but also not comparing myself to the person I used to be or what I used to look like. I am so grateful these days for what I once took for granted. For the people in my life who love me for the real me. And for my heart and passion for self care that I’m finding again. Bless you for your stunningly beautiful and heartfelt post, Diana! The next time I “beat myself up” for not being able to keep up at bootcamp class or for rocking the back of the pack during a race I will instead LOVE myself for the fact that I’m doing it, in the moment. 🙂

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    1. Thank you so much, Ruth!! The past year has been really hard for me and I have gotten sidetracked a lot. I’d order pizzas and eat them all. Drink entire bottles of wine. But now, I am trying to be kind to myself and healthy. While I’m in THailnad right now, of course, it has been a bit difficult, but once I’m back in Spain and later in the States for a bit, I fully intend to keep up the healthy habits I have once again embraced. Weight will always be an issue with me. Hell, I gain weight just LOOKING at delicious, calorie-laden food, but I also know I can control it if I put in the time and effort. I’m proud of you for working and loving yourself. I think we are so hard on ourselves, so unforgiving, that we need to remember we are beautiful, no matter what.

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  18. This was so beautiful to read. I too thought travel would make me lose weight instead I have been gaining it. Controlling the diet is so hard when you constantly travel. I think for me I have a husband and kids and it’s just as bad as the thoughts you have as a single. “No one will ever kiss me” is replaced by “Well they love me the way I am.” So I can’t change for them I need to change for me. And it’s hard. But you’re inspiring. Thank you.

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    1. Thank you, Erin! I think it is REALLY difficult to lose weight when traveling (zero calories on vacation, right?!?). This trip, I tried to get in some gym time at the beginning, but then it has been hard. And, I see ALL THE FOOD and think to myself “when am I going to get these gorgeous little Thai cakes again, or devour noodles like this?” so I rationalize the consumption away. I’d love to be able to one day say “they love me the way I am.” ❤

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  19. Just wanted to say thank you for this blog. I really do feel your pain! I have spent the last year travelling and the lifestyle traveling brings with unhealthy eating and limited exercise I have packed on weight to a body that was not so skinny to start with. I am actually on my way to Thailand for a 2.5-month stay at a boot camp. It’s been on my bucket list for years and finally going to dedicate this time to my health. I am a little worried at those comments. I had a one night stop over in New York and yesterday I was walking across the street and a taxi driver yelled out to me “get out the road, FATSO.” I tried ro compose myself – I mean what does that fucker mean to me – nothing. I couldn’t help myself, couldn’t stop crying all the way home until I hid myself in my hotel room for a few hours. People don’t understand what their words can do. I commend you for your bravery and you are 100% right – none of those people are entitled to say in your body composition. Fuck them, fuck them all! Love your blog, you’re a beautiful girl inside and out – no but’s or conditions. I look forward to reading more of your articles in the future.

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    1. That NY driver was cruel. I would have felt the same way. It always really upsets me when strangers think they can take their anger, their BS and whatever else out on people. It reminds me of the sayings (and I’m paraphrasing), “be kind because everyone is fighting their own battle for which you know nothing about.” You are absolutely right, people don’t understand the power of their words, and it can be very tough to hear them, regardless of their intentions. Thank you so much for stopping by and for sharing your experience. I appreciate your sweet words!

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  20. A Chiang Mai local stumbled upon your blog.

    Yes you get it right. While taking about weight is really rude in the West, here it’s not serious issue. And most Thai don’t know it’s rude to say that to Westerners. In fact it’s an indirect sign that they feel close to you to say that. It’s cultural difference.

    Also Poom-pui in Thai have another sub-meaning. It’s not mean only fat. It means “chubby in a cute way”

    Don’t think to much about you physical appearance. Tell you, my girl is also chubby, may be more chubby than you do, yet she have confidence in herself. Also she’s really kind. This is not only my opinion but those who know her as well. That’s why I and all our friends love her. (We went to the same high school, so my friends are also her friends)

    To be honest, you are quite pretty. I’m not flattering you. Really mean it. Be proud of yourself.

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    1. Thank you! I know it isn’t a big thing when people say it here. But, as a westerner, where people don’t dare comment on your weight, it was uncomfortable. Regardless, it spurred me to change my life, and for that, I am so grateful! I cannot wait to head back to CM this week!

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  21. Great article thanks for sharing. Don’t beat yourself up, I’ve been to the Elephant Nature Reserve in Chiang Mai and the work they do there is awesome you should be proud of yourself for raising awareness. Its always good to feel health and strong but the weight is just a number. Its not in our genes to be as skinny as the Thai’s but who cares?! Good luck with your journey!

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    1. Haha! You’re right. I don’t think anyone can be as tiny as them! I loved my time at ENP, it was incredibly fulfilling and definitely made me realize that it doesn’t matter what’s on the outside. Thanks so much for the support!

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  22. If we fatties lived in a different century then we would be the desired ones. Which is all you need to know because its all about pleasing other people which I couldn’t give a toss about. End of story. When I’m in Vietnam when I walk down the street strangers come up rub my stomach and say “Happy Buddah” Hilarious the first 10 times but really I still couldn’t give a fuck other than the repetition of it all.

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  23. Hi Diana!

    I found you through Hannah Logan’s site (Eat Breathe Travel) and both stories hit home as I, as a curvy latina woman, also experienced some quite difficult and life-changing moments while living and working in Seoul, South Korea and during my visits to Japan and Hong Kong.

    Already here at home in Canada it is something else to be the “fat kid” or plus-sized person in the family and basically everywhere you go.

    I have not encountered truly mean or cruel people who have no filter and just spit out unwanted, mean remarks that don’t do any favor my criticizing you appearance but it is very common in Asia.

    I used to get the stares when I first arrived and also have people touch me and ask “Pretty face but why so big?” I simply said, well this is what my mama gave me and if you don’t like it, look away or leave me alone. I’d just wanted to tell them: “well you’re so white, skin and bones, do you even eat?” but I bit my tongue and was a bigger person.

    Yes, we’re like the attraction in other countries but they must be educating on proper etiquette and know how to talk to foreigners. Ah the joys of culture shock!

    Your stories of weight loss, weight gain and depression are incredible, how did you stay strong and sane through it all?

    I am determined to take better care and be a better version FOR ME and not because other people think I should.

    I am alive, healthy, strong and even if I’ll never be a size 4, I will be the happiest and enjoy life to the max and luckily traveling to fill my heart with joy helps a lot!

    Thank you so much for your inspiration.

    I sincerely wish you all the best!

    K

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    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experiences. It is hard, I know. Good for you for biting your tongue! For me, I stayed sane because I chose to take control over that which bothered me. I joined the gym. I hired a personal trainer. But, more than anything else, over the years — and with a lot of therapy — I discovered the importance and beauty in truly loving myself. It’s a beautiful thing to discover that once you truly LOVE who you are, weight and all, the world opens up and loves you back just as you are. ❤

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