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Thursday, September 30, 2010


My mother was easily 150 pounds or more overweight my whole life.

Her weight was never an issue in our house growing up, in that it was never ever discussed. Yes, we were one of those families. No one monitored what was consumed, asked any questions or made any snide remarks.

Growing up, meals were "normal"... a meat, a starch and a vegetable. There wasn't a lot of desserts, but we had a lot of homemade cookies, of the chocolate chip variety laying around. I don't recall ever thinking my mother was eating more than she should.

Since my mother's weight was never an issue at home, I was never embarrassed by her appearance. I do, however, remember feeling bad for her when she would get winded walking up a flight of stairs. I remember wondering how she would fit in a certain sized chair or a seat on an airplane. I never bought her a single article of clothing because I never knew her actual size.

Once while we were on vacation, my mother lost her balance and fell down five or six stairs. She had cuts and bruises all over her face, arms and legs for weeks. Fortunately, she didn't break anything, but we were in the middle of the jungle in Madagascar, a 10-12 hour drive from the nearest city and she had to be flown back to our hotel and wait for my dad, sister and me to return the following day. That incident broke my heart.

My mother was an elementary school teacher, the smartest woman I ever knew and always carried herself with ease, dressing appropriately for her size. She wore a lot of primary colors and fun holiday-themed jewelery "for her third graders", she always said. Even though she was heavy, she never "let herself go" and always wore a stylish hair cut and nail polish on her finger and toe nails.

I have seen photos of my mother before I was born and she wasn't always big. In fact, she had a very slender frame until the Summer of 1972.

I still have no idea why she was overweight and unfortunately, I never will. She passed away in 2007 from unrelated causes.

I always thought, and she may have eluded to it ONE time, it was because she gained so/too much while pregnant with me, which made me fearful that the same thing would happen to me when I was pregnant. Some women take the "eating for two" literally and don't take necessary precautions to nourish their babies as well as themselves in healthy and safe ways. I believe my mother was one of these women.

I know firsthand now how difficult it is to lose whatever baby weight is gained during those joyous nine months, especially with a brand new baby in tow. I am still struggling with five-eight pesky pounds myself.

In spite of or because of my mother I have never been overweight. Weight may be hereditary, but I just don't think I could ever let myself get to that point. The point of being fat. On the other hand, I wouldn't know what the worst diet is because I have never been on a diet. I guess I tried the Atkins Diet once for about 3 days, but who can live without bread?

Since I was in college, I have chosen to take responsibility for my weight gain and loss by exercising regularly. I keep a Excel spreadsheet of every mile I walk and calorie I burn on the StairMaster, Elliptical machine or stationary bike. I exercise so that I can eat the way I do and luckily for me, I enjoy sweating. I can’t imagine feeling healthy or happy without an hour at the gym several days a week.

I know where my problem areas are and try to work with them or camouflage them when necessary. I have sizes 6 through 12 in my closet and like everyone else, I have good days and fat days.

I LOVE to eat, but don't gorge myself. I feel that I eat for sustenance and not just for the mere pleasure of it, unless of course it's Trader Joe's chocolate cover peanut butter cups or a glass or three of wine. I eat three square meals a day, rarely snack and consider myself a carb addict (hence the reason the Atkins Diet didn't last long).

When it comes to my relationship with my body, food and exercise, I always think about my mother. I think, I don't want to be 100+ pounds overweight. I want to live a long healthy life and I want to look good in my skinny jeans. And now, more than ever, getting and staying in shape is not just for me, but my son too.

This post is for Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop - Prompt #1 Describe the worst diet you ever put yourself on.

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Blogger Erin said...

I want to be healthy, and as long as I can run and play with my boys, I'm all set!

September 29, 2010 at 11:04 PM  
Blogger Kisha said...

I can't speak for your mother, but I know that for me, I never set out to be that overweight. For myself, it was due to learned bad habits that I allowed to carry over into adulthood, and mental illness. I'm glad that you have the skills to keep yourself healthy. Some of us are just now figuring it all out. :)

September 29, 2010 at 11:09 PM  
Blogger Leah said...

This breaks my heart. Mom and I never talked about it. I feel like we had this unspoken understanding about her weight. We both knew it was there and that she wasn't happy about it. But she never talked about changing it. I am really working hard on my body now at 26 so it's not something that I'm forever focusing and stressing about.

September 29, 2010 at 11:51 PM  
Blogger eof777 said...

Very touching piece... Your mom sounds like a truly wonderful lady and someone who didn't let size get in the way. As we age, the focus becomes more about health and less on dress size.
Thanks for stopping by my blog. I am now following you via Google friends.

September 30, 2010 at 1:19 AM  
Anonymous Roo {NiceGirlNotes} said...

This post definitely struck a chord with me. We didn't talk about weight in front of my dad. When I got to be a teenager, my mom used to share her concerns with me, but that did nothing but strike fear into my heart. Now that I'm an adult, my dad and I will discuss weight - but only if he brings it up first. Your mom sounds like a sweet lady, and I'm sure you miss her very much. Thank you for sharing!

September 30, 2010 at 1:56 AM  
Anonymous Dominique @Dominique's Desk said...

I too want to lose all that baby weight and more which I am still carrying around since my #3 was born. I hope to be able to spend half the time getting back to ideal weight by Christmas this year .

September 30, 2010 at 2:13 AM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

Stopping by from Mama Kat's. So sorry you lost your mom. That accident must have been so hard for her. It sounds like you have a healthy outlook on your weight/health goals. I wish I loved to sweat!

September 30, 2010 at 4:15 AM  
Blogger paulakiger said...

I really appreciate everything you shared in your post. I sure can't go without bread either - no Atkins for me!! You might be interested in as an extension of your spreadsheet. It is a way to get support from others. I admire you for your balanced approach (and for treating yourself occasionally!). I chose the same prompt:

Take care - your mom sounds like a wonderful mom.

September 30, 2010 at 5:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

visiting from mama kat's
I am quite overweight and it has little to do with the pregnancy pounds. I didn't move...for too long. Now I'm running and hitting the gym but no pounds have actually come off though I *feel* better. We had horrible eating habits in my family...I never truly learned how to eat...ate ice cream every night. Well it catches up to you, especially with a divorce, too. But it sounds like you know your body and that's an awesome skill. I wish I did, too, but I'm slowly getting there! (I hope)

September 30, 2010 at 6:17 AM  
Blogger gingerbreadmama said...

Very honest and beautiful Tonya!

September 30, 2010 at 7:04 AM  
Anonymous dawn said...

Visiting from Mama Kats.

I am over weight, although I 'carry it well'. I guess years of playing soccer and workng out helped in some way. I am any where from 40-90 pounds too heavy- depending on what criteria you use. I don't care what I weigh, but I do care what size I am wearing. No one believes me when I tell my weight--- yeah, I'm gonna tack on 30 pounds? I want to be in a size 10-12 by my 45th birthday in January. Only a little over 2 months away so I doubt I'll meet that goal, but I walk 4-6 miles several days a week and I eat really healthy food, don't junk food out or binge. So maybe I'll get there in my 45th year...

September 30, 2010 at 7:27 AM  
Blogger Natalie said...

I wish I had your willpower. I have none. I know I should do something to help get myself more healthy for the kids. I really need to set a goal and stick to it.

Dark choc peanut butter cups from TJ rock!

September 30, 2010 at 10:30 AM  
Blogger Angie said...

I have struggeld with my weight my entire life and now that my daughter is 8 months old it's even more difficult.
It's funny though... my grandma was VERY heavy so my mom and aunt have always worked really hard to stay thin because they don't want to look like their mother. On the other hand, my cousin (who also struggles with her weight) and I would LOVE to look like our mothers.

September 30, 2010 at 11:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On my mom's side there is a genetic condition that slows down the thyroid, which causes weight gain, and an inability to lose weight. My mother has tried everything, and she can never lose more than a couple of pounds. Pre-babies, she was actually quite thin, but after us, she was very sick and gained a lot of weight. I never saw it as a handicap - my mother is gorgeous. But I do worry about the fact that I'm predisposed. I used to have an awesome metabolism, but now I don't. I'm constantly struggling to lose the weight I've gained over the past few years. Good for you, for being conscious and exercising regularly. I agree it's not about what we look like, but being healthy for the ones we love.
Stopped in from Mama Kat's.

September 30, 2010 at 11:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a really huge fear of gaining to much weight, my older sister is somewhere in the neighborhood of 400+lbs and my mother is also overweight. I am heavier than I want to be right now, and I am not sure how to lose the weight- I try to work out, and I try to eat better, but I'm still not doing great. Weight is such a hard thing!

September 30, 2010 at 11:23 AM  
Blogger Liz said...

you are right, tonya. it's about being healthy and feeling good about yourself. and i think you have your best interest, as well as lucas', in your heart.

September 30, 2010 at 12:22 PM  
Blogger luckydame said...

I'm sorry for your loss.

As for weight, I was overweight from the time I was 6 years old until I was 19 or so. Almost 80 lbs overweight...I was on a diet from 7th grade onward.

I struggle daily and hate it. The number on the scale rules my life. It was especially hard after 2 kids but I did everything in my power to lose all the weight (gained about 60 with my 1st). I hate diets...

Can't M&M's be a food group???

Very nice blog post.

September 30, 2010 at 12:54 PM  
Blogger The Random Blogette said...

This reminds me of my mom. And my heart aches for you because your mom is not around anymore. The only time that I remember my mom being comfortable with her weight and not looking heavy was my wedding. She was also very slender when she was younger, as she was 100 lbs when she got married. My whole family has weight issues and it is a constant battle. It is so hard to watch everything that you eat. But after loosing 20lbs recently I have decided that you just need to eat responsibly and not be a pig or eat horrible foods, like fast food, all of the time. I don't think that there will ever come a day when I am not concerned about my weight. It sucks, but it is life.

September 30, 2010 at 1:20 PM  
Blogger WTH am I Doing? said...

My mother was also very overweight. She did all kinds of things to lose weight, and never really did. I never really knew how much she weighed, but my dad said it was in the 400-500 lb range. I was used to her, but I'm desperately afraid of becoming her.

I gained a lot of weight during my pregnancy & apparently? My metabolism has pretty much stopped. But I am also very conscious of the extra 40 lbs & what it has done to my body. Getting rid of it has been a slow process...but I will get there. Eventually.

September 30, 2010 at 1:41 PM  
Blogger Renee said...

Contrats to you for taking charge. I just don't have the ambition for it.

Weight was always a subject as I was growing up. My mom was not overweight until late in life, then she lost it, too quickly. I believe she had an eating disorder.
She was also a food pusher. She'd encourage us to eat more. Then tell which ever one had gotten chubby that they needed to cut down.

I've become content(mostly) with being overweight by 10-20 pounds. If I'd move more, it would probably help. But I am done with the forever diets and calorie counting.

September 30, 2010 at 6:09 PM  
Anonymous Sara Plays House said...

You're awesome.
My mom is still here, but she can't get on the floor and play with my kids. She can't go with us on fun outings because she simply can't walk that far.
She has health issues upon health issues related to the choices she's made in her life.
Seeing her with my kids? That has been the inspiration for me to watch what I eat, stay active, and try to be as healthy as possible. Because I want to be able to play with my grandkids, not just watch from the sidelines.
Thank you for this post.
(All that being said, I wish you could talk to your mom--so sorry for your loss.)

September 30, 2010 at 6:19 PM  
Blogger Circus Daily said...

I saw the opposite side of the fence growing up. My mother was easily 50-75 pounds underweight on an already frail size body. She would hit lows around 75-80, then bounce back never a pound over 99. In her mind 100 would have been "large." Much as you described in our house the weight became normal despite many attempts to help her help herself. when i was young, i didn't know of the sickness that was sucking the life out of her one pound at a time. i just knew she would never be able to do some of the things other moms were doing...she was simply too small.

As i grew i learned more about the complexities of eating disorders and how they effect so much more then just your pant size. She has never admitted to having an eating disorder, and now is living on full time oxygen.

It's sad. And although I am very close with my mother and love her dearly...I've come to accept that as long as she is with us, this unfortunately will plague our relationship.

I made a commitment long ago to never let my weight wether high or low effect my life, my roles, my ambitions. My husband and I strive to make healthy conscience choices in our home setting examples we aim for our boys, both under two, to follow.

Thanks for your post, and I'm sorry for your loss...sounds like she was an amazing spirit.

October 1, 2010 at 11:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a sweet memory of your mom...I'm sorry she is no longer with you.

October 1, 2010 at 6:41 PM  
Blogger Sophie said...

I like the way you take care of yourself and admire you for going to the gym on a regular basis! We should all take example on you. I'm sure that your Mom is proud of you wherever she is. Lucas has a wonderful Mommy.

October 1, 2010 at 9:12 PM  
Blogger BalancingMama (Julie) said...

When we have kids, we realize that things usually all about "me" become all about him/her instead. Good for you for remembering your health!

October 3, 2010 at 6:05 PM  
Anonymous Jenn of said...

Great post, Tonya - it really speaks volumes about doing what's best for our kids, as well as ourselves. :) I can't wait until I'm back in the gym full-throttle. It makes me feel great!

October 4, 2010 at 7:24 AM  
Blogger The mad woman behind the blog said...

Wonderful post! It angers and hurts me everyday when I see friends put on the pounds and hand out the excuses for their weight gain.
I know the best thing I can do is to be supportive and loving and live by example.

And I like to sweat too!

Morgan sent me your way. I like the design of your blog. Perhaps we can chat.

October 5, 2010 at 9:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a great post! Lucas is lucky to have a mother so committed to him that she'd endure the elliptical - that's true love :-P

But being around to grow old with my wife and see our kids grow up is what motivates me when I want to cut the last lap or rep short.

October 29, 2010 at 10:24 AM  
Blogger The Girl Next Door Grows Up said...

Very honest post:-) I try not to repeat the mistake my parents made too.

January 14, 2011 at 12:41 PM  

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