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There is a meme making its way around the blog world: “Ten Lies My Mother Told Me.” When I first discovered it, I reada few of the responses. Some of them were really clever and funny. Some more serious.

But the meme itself and those responses got me started thinking about my childhood experiences and my relationship with my mother vis a vis my weight and self-image.

After considering those topics for a few days now, I can only remember one lie that my mother ever told me.

You might be saying, “Wow, that’s amazing” or thinking that senility has set in and I’m simply unable to recall all the lies she told me over the years. Perhaps you’re even thinking that I’ve repressed the lies — little, white or other — she told me in the deep recesses of my brain and, perhaps through intense psychotherapy, they could be retrieved and examined.

Wrong on all counts.

My mother was simply a straight-up, honest — blunt — person. “Boy, that apple landed close to the tree,” you’re thinking.

The Lie

She told me only one thing that wasn’t true, but she did so repeatedly over the course of many years, even when I was well into adulthood:

“You would be so pretty if only you would lose weight.”

I hadn’t thought about those words in a long time, but in the process of thinking about participating in this meme, they came flooding back to me.

The Plateau

I have been at a weight-loss plateau for awhile now. The weight is still coming off, but very, very slowly. Because of that, although I have not reverted to my outlandishly bad eating patterns, I have been backsliding just a bit.

No, I still do not eat any form of junk food. I gave all of it up more than a year ago. But I have eaten a little too much here and there, a little too late at night, gone out to restaurants a little too often not armed with my salad dressing and made menu choices that were not the most reasoned.

If you have ever struggled with your weight, you know that the inevitable times when you reach a plateau are dangerous times. Reaching a plateau is the point when the temptation to revert to old thinking, eating and behavioral patterns is the strongest, even though plateaus are completely natural and nothing more than your body adjusting to its new form and composition.

Your head is simultaneously adjusting to your new identity — the messages you are projecting to the world and the manner in which the world perceives you. The rush of initial weight loss has faded. People may not be noticing as often that you have lost weight which is completely normal because their image of you has evolved. Your clothing is becoming looser but at a much slower rate.

When you reach a plateau, you must remain committed to the program you designed for yourself that has worked up to that point. It will continue to work for you. It may be necessary to vary and intensify your fitness routine and / or adjust your nutrition plan, but if you persevere, you will continue on your journey to optimal health and fitness levels.

The Origins of the Lie

Intellectually, I know that my mother did not mean to hurt me. At this juncture in my life, I understand that fact with the clarity that can only be achieved after having raised children myself.

I know that mothering is hard work and sometimes, no matter how hard you try to communicate to your children in order to spare them the painful life lessons that you survived, you say things you later regret. The irony is, of course, that children sometimes have to endure difficulties and learn those life lessons on their own in order to develop survival skills. We simply can’t protect them from everything.

So I get the fact that my mother did the best she could with the skills and limited knowledge of the world she possessed. She was a modest woman who grew up during the Great Depression in a farmhouse on the Prairie that had neither electricity nor plumbing. She went to a little country school via a horse-drawn bus. And she graduated from high school in 1934 only to find that her dream of attending college was unattainable. So she ended up working as a combination cook, housekeeper and babysitter. She used to tell us how her parents sent her off to work for some neighbors from sunrise to sunset. Her wages? “Two dollars per week.”

Sounds primitive, doesn’t it? It was.

It was that primitive upbringing that made her who she was and fueled her to instill great ambition in her children.

Her upbringing in that stark, harsh environment formed her outlook on life — always practical. She was adamant that we should finish college and get good jobs. The idea of bypassing college to get married, have children and become a stay-at-home mother was always foreign to me because her mantra was “Never be dependent upon a man.” That was not a put-down of my father in any way, but, rather, my mother’s declaration about her lack of self-actualization and achievement. She used to tell us that we should finish our education and be able to support ourselves so that we would always have options.

She was a feminist long before the Women’s Movement was born.

So how did a feminist end up telling such an anti-feminist, woman-hating lie to her daughter during her most impressionable, formative years?

To be continued . . .


  1. Isn’t it amazing how as little children we are like sponges and so impressionable. In one way it can be good, we can take in a lot of knowledge and easily learn foreign languages (for example), but we also take in the negatives that can influence us into adulthood. I can relate to what your mother told you, I’ve been living with those same types of comments, and some of them are still influencing me!

    Thanks for writing this JHS, it was a very good read!

  2. Thanks for stopping by my blog! I am so excited to get traffic to my site. My mother told me that same lie… although that was not the only one. You are sooo right about the Plateau, it’s difficult and dangerous, but we have to push on through. Although I know calorie counting is not for you I would be happy to work up an assessment for you. It would at least tell you where you are in terms of how hard you will have to work to get over the Plateau. Also, I’m sure you already know this too, but, how’s your exercising… particularly strength training? You can increase your ability to burn fat by adding muscle. I like resistance bands myself as it’s one single piece of equipment that can isolate all the muscle groups you need it to. Anyhoo… keep up the good work. We Can Do It!

  3. Pingback: Fitness Cure - » Protein Cookies, the “fat” cold and Mom’s Lies!

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  5. I had the experience as a child of a well-meaning adult (not my mom) standing me in front of a mirror in a bathing suit and critiquing about how I needed to lose my ‘baby fat’… I started dieting at the age of 8.

    When I finally (after the teen years) stopped dieting and started really listening to my body, I did lose weight. Apparently my body doesn’t appreciate being starved all day and then binging on junk food…

    Since I became a mom, my children’s self image has been very important to me. Diet, skinny, weight, are not words that I bring into conversations, and if they are brought up by my children, we talk about health, strength, exercise and taking good care of ourselves.

    Thank you for bringing up this very important topic. We are the best examples for our children, and if they see us stressing about our waistlines and constantly obsessing about food, they will too…

  6. Zay?flama

    Thank you for bringing up this very important topic. We are the best examples for our children, and if they see us stressing about our waistlines and constantly obsessing about food, they will too…

  7. bjorn baby slings

    Very nice post. people often wonder why their kids are overweight. They blame everyone else bu themselves. Children learn by example and with so much negative stimulation coming from everywhere, faulty row models and so on, it is very important for parents to actually do as they preach. Thanks for the post!

  8. Acai Berry Oprah

    No girls would dare to talk about their weight. It is common not to pin point this issue, even though we are overweight. It is best to measure our weight and monitor with BMI stats and configure what to do next. As a parent, we don’t want to hurt our child’s feeling. Plus, they are young, they can control all this when they turn into adult.

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