I don’t eat much with people other than with my husband and daughter, purely because I feel judged. And my point was proven when I had an ice cream on a hot day. Somebody commented “I thought you were on a diet?” I’ve never felt so hot eating an ice cream. I want to change my lifestyle, not be a slave of a diet and be unhappy doing it.

Food aside, I have started using my CPAP machine every night. Since I have gotten overweight I struggle with sleep apnea, and frequently stopped breathing in my sleep. The machine has been gathering dust for the last four years as I was reluctant to use it. I have been using it for two months now and I would not sleep any other way. A week ago our power ran out in the middle of the night, and the machine turned off. I woke feeling like I was suffocating. The next day I was tired and ate so much sugar it gave me a migraine. Food choices are a daily battle; some days I win, and some days food wins.

I have another secret hunger: shopping. This is always been a love of mine, and China has not changed that. It is hard enough though to get clothes that fit as a regular size person, but plus-size people have a real hoot finding stuff to wear.

I have tried online shopping and 75% of the time the XXXXXXXXL is too small. So I have a secret stash of plus size clothing which I can wear when I am skinny. Then sometimes clothes do fit, but you have to enter strange words in the search engine like “Big Fat Sister Clothes” – one of my personal favorites.

I have my secret shopping sprees where I “forget” I am plus-size, and still try to wear an XL top from Zara. In the harsh light of the dressing room, I struggle to get into the stretchy tops that looked too big hanging in the store. I’m happy that I shop by myself, and nobody is there to witness my embarrassment and pain.

There is also the happiness when H&M is newly restocked, and I find a shirt in a size 46!I don’t care how it looks, I am buying it. Sometimes I get a bit lucky and find XXL stretchy men’s pants at Uniqlo. Feeling joy about this is also sad and embarrassing. Beijing is not ready for cute-looking plus-size women.

My only extreme joy in shopping are clothing auctions where international woman gather with their clothes they don’t want, and have a great night filled with laughter and wine. I buy everything that fits me even if it’s not my style, gaining many new friendships along the way.

This blog was posted originally on the beijingkids website.