My Son Told Me to Lose Weight and I’m Taking His Advice


lose weightAfter the holidays, before the New Year, my son and I were cuddling on the couch, watching a movie. As always, he was bouncing around from the couch to the floor with his Legos, not really watching. At some point, his attention was captured by a weight-loss commercial. On TV, a B-list celebrity was touting her 40-pound weight loss and encouraging the audience to buy a trial of some program that guaranteed results or your money back.

“You should do that,” my son suggested when the commercial was over.

His words stung. Not because I didn’t know I was fat but because I assumed he was embarrassed by the way I looked. I thought I’d taught him better. “Why? I like the way I look,” I replied, hoping to jog his memory of all those conversations we’d had about the inside being what mattered and how liking yourself is more important than what others think.

“So we can ride bikes this summer.” He said it matter-of-factly, without judgment, and then he went back to playing.

I was stunned. He wasn’t comparing me to some societal standard; he just wanted to have more fun with his mom. The truth hurt more than my assumption.

I am almost 100 pounds overweight, and there is no way I could or would ride bikes with him this summer, or any summer for that matter. I have been fat my whole life. My disposition towards exercise was cemented in elementary school with a rather dictatorial gym teacher and those awful Fitnessgram assessments we had to do twice a year. He (or I guess the state) would make us line up for the skinfold test. During this, my fat would be measured with a giant set of tweezers pinching my underarm flab and recording it for posterity and on my report card.

This wasn’t the most embarrassing of the tests for me, though. The mile run was the worst. Consistently, the fit kids would have to wait for an extra 6-8 minutes for me to finish. The disdain on their faces was palpable. Through heavy breathing and encouraging words like “Pick it up” and “We don’t have all day!” I developed a hatred of exercise.

I grew older and learned to avoid sports, gym class, and especially the mile run. Choosing instead to focus on the things I was good at, like school, theater, and cracking jokes at my own expense. These became the cornerstones of my high school identity. My honesty about my body caused my slim friends to comment on how they wished they could feel as comfortable in their skin as I did mine.

They didn’t know that I was often dieting and hoping to lose weight. None of the diets worked for me or lasted very long, so it was easy to continue to play the happy, chubby girl. Slowly, this farce became my reality. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. And I did. I embraced every curve and roll I had, avoiding anything that made me feel bad about my body – especially exercise.

That avoidance became impossible a few days ago. Long after our movie was done, I stayed up thinking about all the things I had missed out on in my son’s short life by embracing the fat and rejecting all things fit. I didn’t go sledding with him this year. I sat on the bench when we were at the park. Then, I thought about when he got older. What if he wants to play sports? I won’t ever be able to practice with him. When we go on vacation, we won’t learn to surf or go hiking together. Was that the life I wanted for him? For me?

I’d die for my son – so why wouldn’t I get on a treadmill and lose weight for him? The answer was simple. I would, and I will.

What is your motivation to get healthy?


  1. So, thankfully you are coming to this realization earlier than I have! And, it has been difficult for me to accept, but my relationship to food is somewhat akin to that if an addict to drugs. If I have a cookie, I over eat 10. So, what I’ve embarked on, again, ( as I lost 20 pounds easily, but then got smug and readdicted myself,) is to face my addiction, and follow the spate food plan of Food Addicts anonymous. No sugars, no flours, no wheat. Simple, but also challenging. But, I feel super when I follow it! And I find my way to a right sized body, for me. You might also check out bright line eating, which is more expensive…as FAA is free, essentially. Be in touch, if you wish.

    • I’ve considered FAA but it seems so restrictive… I know I need that. But I also don’t want to hate life bc I can’t eat. I did a plan pretty similar to what FAA would be and when I “rebounded” (relapsed) I was worse than before… I ate MORE sugar, MORE junk, etc thank i had before I started the 30 day program. So, I said all that to say… I’m like you and have a series food addiction… So does my husband. How has FAA changed you? I’m interested in your story.
      The author’s point hits home…. I want to be around forever for my daughter… Why can’t I take 45 mins a day to better myself physically? Ugh.

  2. Hi Keveney – I so appreciate what you’re saying in this post and as someone who grew up with a true hatred of exercise for the same reason and lifetime weight yo-you’er and of course, as a mom, I totally get it. Diet culture in this country, however, is out of control toxic and the beginning of year is especially intense (and triggering to some of us, if I’m being honest.) We all know how to lose weight, most of us have trouble keeping it off or more importantly, staying healthy and active. I would recommend trying to find a non-diet nutrtionist and stay away from weight loss inspired IGs or blogs, which are often eating disorders make to look like health. If anyone is using the words clean eating, detox or talking about the poison that is *fill the blank with the evil food du jour* also stay away. And even if you’re just walking on a treadmill, it’s a great start. 🙂 Happy new year!

  3. I’ve always tried to focus on how exercise makes ME feel. I don’t consider myself terribly athletic and I was always at the back of the pack on that fucking mile run in HS. It’s such a shitty memory. I’m not very fast, but running makes me feel powerful and proud of myself when I can go a little farther or a little faster; so I do it for that. My other advice: find an activity that you enjoy in some way. Dance, walk, yoga, swim, whatever. Don’t get on the treadmill just bc it’s what “fit” people do. You have to find a way to like exercise in order to change your mindset about it. Like your son. He doesn’t think of it as exercise, he just likes riding his bike. If you find something you like and do it enough, you’ll actually start to miss it if you slack off.

    Also, my “go to the gym” mantra: You never regret it. (It’s true)

  4. This is beautiful and brought tears to my eyes. When you become a parent, there are lots of adjustments and life style changes. Some have to quit smoking or partying. For others it’s simply the way we talk about ourselves in front of our children. I for one, have had to learn to knock of the negative comments I make about myself or my appearance I front of my daughter. And for some, it’s excercise and diet.

    I totally agree with Jeanne’s comments about finding a form of activity that you enjoy. For me, it’s running and yoga (both of which have gotten me through hard times in life). For others it’s Zumba or dance class or swimming. But maybe it doesn’t even need to be a “thing” maybe it starts as a 30 minute walk each day… by yourself listening to music… who knows. I know you will find it.

    Kudos to you on another beautifully written and brave blog post!

    • So true, the things we have to do to better ourselves for our kids are hard. But, everyone has something. Xo

  5. Hey love! Thanks for sharing that beautiful post! The one thing I do want to add is that I do think it’s a good idea to discuss your son’s initial reason to make the remark, just for added perspective. Those ads are misleading and make viewers believe that weight loss=health. I’m sure you know that’s not the case, but he may not. Also I’m not a huge fan of the gym, but it’s super convenient for me. I can’t afford a trainer, but if you can, maybe consider that?

  6. Oh I love this, Keveney—-you nailed it, we’d do everything for our boys, so we can pass on that piece of delicious cake or sweat a bit for their sake. I am so impressed by your weight loss and know you can do this! I am going to do a Zumba video 3 days a week after work with Will and Jake. I figure that is something that Will can “join” me in, making it more enjoyable for me (hopefully)!

  7. From one big girl to another, baby steps. Pick a small, tangible goal and stick to it no matter what. I’m doing dancing in my house with my man, 3 songs, 3 times a week, for 3 weeks. If we can do that, we can take the next baby step.

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