I walked through the front door, backpack over my shoulders and smile on my face. It was a calm spring evening, and I had just returned from another day of seventh grade.
My mom was sitting at the kitchen table in silence. “Tal, come sit down with me for a minute,” she said. I sat down by her, and she began to explain, “I hope you’re not angry sweetie… but I wanted to tell you that I signed you up for a program this summer. It’s a weight loss for teens program.”
I was shocked and insulted, and my emotions overtook me. “You always look beautiful, honey, but I just want you to be healthy, too,” she tried to explain, but I was not open to her reasoning.
That summer after seventh grade, I begrudgingly participated in the weight loss for teens program and lost 13 pounds. While we were both happy with the results, I think my mom and I knew in the back of our minds that the fight was not over. With weight loss and overweight problems, going through the motions “because my mom told me to” was not going to yield lasting results.
I entered eighth grade only slightly overweight, but by 10th grade my weight had climbed back up. I still had friends, a great boyfriend, and a lot of confidence. Despite my doctor’s warnings about my weight creeping into the “obesity” category, my dad’s polite suggestions that I “just try going to a personal trainer one time,” and my mom’s subtle looks of worry as she watched her daughter ignore her health, I wasn’t concerned.
For the remainder of high school, my weight fluctuated, and so did my relationship with my parents. Being told to exercise more only made me want to get away with exercising less, and being told to eat less only made me want to hide alone and eat more. The more I thought about my weight, the more I resented my own parents.
After high school, I spent a gap year in Israel. Being abroad was a wonderful experience, but it also presented new obstacles that exacerbated my weight problem. With little time for exercise and new food options, I ignored my weight problem for yet another year—gaining another 25 pounds.
Once I returned to the States, I knew that my mom still was hoping for me to lose weight, but I didn’t have the time or desire to worry about it, and I didn’t allow her the time to catch me for a conversation about it.
I was avoiding the problem, recklessly hoping it would go away.
Not only was I running from my mom, I was running from my own reality. By then, I think my mom was just hoping and praying that I would grow up enough to face my reality before I suffered any serious medical consequences.
In September 2015, I finally accepted my situation—on my own terms.
In my first week of college, my boyfriend of two years dumped me. After I drowned in my tears for a couple of weeks, a profound realization suddenly hit me: the only way to solve my heartbreak was time. But my weight, on the other hand, was in my power to fix.
I finally decided to start my weight loss journey—going to the gym almost daily, weighing myself weekly, and making healthy and realistic modifications to my eating habits.
Now, I don’t have an easy fix to share with you. I didn’t do an expensive program that you’ve never heard of or discover a new drastic diet.
All I did was discover that I care.
This time, I wasn’t doing it “because my mom told me to.” I was doing it because I wanted to. The support from my friends and family as well as the realization that I had the power to create my own happiness kept me working toward my goal.
I walked through the front door, suitcase in my hand and smile on my face. It was a calm winter night and I had just returned home from my first semester of college, 45 pounds lighter than when I left in August. I looked up to see my mom sitting at the kitchen table. “Thank you for taking care of my precious daughter,” she said, her eyes welling with tears.