I remember listening to the kids in my class tell “Yo mama so fat” jokes when I was younger. Back then I never would have guessed that I would grow up to be the butt of those jokes. As a teenager, I was always fit. I am 5’7″ and I weighed about 125lbs and was a cheerleader. After the birth of my first son, I was about 145lbs. After I had my second son, I got an IUD put in. I quickly started gaining weight. The doctor said the IUD was messing with my hormones and suggested that I have it removed. I had the IUD removed, but the weight just kept packing on. My current weight is around 200lbs. For the past few years, I have started one diet and exercise program after another. I have tried both over the counter diet pills and ones prescribed by my doctor. The battle with my weight gain has been painful, frustrating, and honestly exhausting. I hate to have my picture taken, go clothes shopping, or even use the pool in my backyard, because I find my appearance embarrassing. I’m ashamed that I let myself go. However, nothing could prepare me for the realization that my son was being picked on because of my body.
My oldest has always made friends easily. Our house is constantly filled with his friends. He is athletic, attractive, and funny. I have never had to worry about him being bullied. Until one day when we were sitting at dinner. I was discussing his upcoming class party and he stopped eating and asked me if Dad could help with his class party instead of me. I didn’t find this strange at first, because my husband has a reputation for being the “cool dad”. I explained to my son that his father was busy and couldn’t do it. He asked me why I couldn’t just let another mom do it. I asked him why he didn’t want me to help with his class party. My feelings were starting to get hurt. He told me he just didn’t want me to go to his school. I asked him if he had been getting in trouble at school. I assumed he didn’t want me talking to his teacher. He told me that he hadn’t been getting in trouble and that he just didn’t want me helping with the party. I demanded to know why. He started crying. Tears were streaming down the face of my tough little man who never cries. (He didn’t even cry when he got hit by a car riding his bike) He shook his head violently and asked me to drop it. I told him he needed to tell me right now exactly what was going on. He begged me to drop the conversation. I threatened to ground him if he didn’t immediately tell me what was going on. That is when he blurted it out, “Mom, I don’t want you to come to my classroom, because the other kid’s make fun of you for being fat!”
I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach. I hugged him and then went to sit in my room for a while. My husband came in and told me that he told our son that he never should have said that to me. He tried to reassure me that “Yo Mamma so fat” jokes are a normal part of boys socializing. He admitted that his own friends tease him about my weight, but he just ignores it. As I listened to him try to comfort me, it became very clear that I wasn’t the only person in my house that was ashamed I was overweight. My husband and my boys carried the burden too.
I would like to tell you that this moment was the wakeup call that I needed. I wish that I could say that I started a healthy lifestyle the very next day and now I am back down to my pre-baby weight. However, this experience was over a year ago and I am still clinically obese. A few weeks ago, another writer challenged me to let one of my kids pick out my outfit and send her a picture of myself wearing it for an article she was doing. I was watching my three year old nephew and let him pick out my outfit for the day. I had my husband take a picture of me wearing it. For the next six hours, I stressed about how disgusting and fat I looked in the picture. I compared myself to the other moms who were doing the challenge. They all looked so skinny and fit. I decided not to send the picture. I will share it with you here.
I realized that my biggest problem is that I have so many responsibilities as a wife, mother, and business woman that I’ve been putting myself last. I would go hours without eating and then get so hungry I would binge eat on snack foods. I would go weeks without exercising. I barely drank any water and my sleep schedule was erratic. To be brutally honest, sometimes I would go days without bathing. For the past five days I have been making self-care a priority. I decided to make my situation public, because I figured that if I have been dealing with weight issues that maybe other people in the boy mom community might be dealing with them too. I’ve decided that every Friday we are going to do ‘Fitness Friday’ on our blog. I’ll check in and let you know how my lifestyle changes are going and we will feature a boy mom in the fitness industry who will give us advice and tips. Hopefully, together we can make some positive changes so that we can start being healthy and fit. Both for ourselves and for the boys who love us.
Tiffany O’Connor is a mom to two amazing, energetic, and fearless boys. She is married to her high school sweet heart and has three college degrees. Her hobbies include watching TV shows about zombies, hiding in her hot tub with a bottle of champagne, and writing all about her misadventures parenting in a “man cave” at #Lifewithboys.