Growing Up in an Overweight Family

by Tara Spener

My parents have always been overweight.

When I was very young, it wasn’t something that I really noticed. They were just my parents. I didn’t notice or didn’t understand that they were heavier than they should be.

However, as I got older, that changed. Over time, my parents’ weight was about much more than their health.

When I was a young child, my parents being overweight meant that they couldn’t play with me the way some of my friends’ parents could play with them. There were no games of chase, no family bouts of tug of war, no family football matches in the backyard. It also meant that they didn’t have the energy for me. They were often too tired from their day to do more than sit down on the couch at the end of the day.

In the beginning, I just thought that’s the way things were, but as time went on, it started to weigh on me that my parents couldn’t (or didn’t want to) do the things that other parents did. I felt like I was missing out in some small way.

Meal times were not the most healthy.

It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I started to think of dinner as something that didn’t come from a box. Once I started to become more interested in eating healthy foods, my parents couldn’t provide me the guidance I needed. They weren’t able to teach me how to make nutritious meals. It wasn’t until I was married that I knew how to make a roast chicken. It wasn’t until college that I knew how to do more than boil some spaghetti noodles.

The unhealthy foods and the unhealthy role models made it hard for me to know how to live a healthy lifestyle.

Once I got to high school, I became interested in track, and I started to lead a more active lifestyle myself. I struggled for many more years trying to learn how to eat a healthy and balanced diet, and I continue to struggle with body issues.

Because my parents didn’t teach me healthy habits, I never learned how to listen to my body and give it the healthy foods it needed. I didn’t learn to exercise because of what it could do for my body and how it could make it feel. As a result, I struggled for a long time with learning how to say no to foods and with learning to strike the right balance with exercise. I either worked out too much or not at all. I either ate too much or too little.

Continuing to run track in college helped me to find that balance.

I learned how to train to push my body to its highest performance. I learned how to eat a healthy diet that gave me energy and made me feel great. Most of all, I learned how to love my body and to treat it with the respect it deserved.

My parents still struggle with their weight.

However, now I am able to offer them the role model that I had hoped they would be for me. With time, I hope that they are able to learn how to adopt a healthier lifestyle so that they can live long and fulfilling lives. And maybe one day we’ll be able to enjoy that game of tag … with their grandchildren.

About the Author: Tara Spenser is currently the resident writer for, where she researches the most affordable business capital available. In her spare time, she enjoys blogging, swimming and being a mom.

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