Dear Mom and Dad, Thanks for Making Me Fat.

Now I'm confident that title of this blog grabbed your attention for a couple reasons.

Number one, it's an outrageous title….and number two, perhaps you are a parent who has a child that struggles with their weight and as a parent you're having some trouble finding resources to help them out.

In no way is this blog a personal attack on anyone, especially parents of overweight kids.

Rather, it is an opportunity for me to air out my experiences as an overweight kid in the hopes of educating and inspiring parents be the biggest advocate of health for their child.

Here comes my credibility plug!

I grew up in a Puerto Rican household with my fantastic cook of a Mother, my supermarket managing Father, my genius older brother and my charismatic better half twin brother.

We were all overweight! All 5 of us. For some perspective, In 5th grade (10 years old) I weighed about 180 pounds and in 12th grade I weighed 293 pounds.  Safe to say each year between, I put on about 15 lbs.

By the way the average 5th grade boy is 70-80 pounds and the average 17-year-old boy is 160-170 pounds.

Momma always told me to be better than average!

Is it her fault that I was overweight?

Should I blame my mom for cooking such iconic empanadas?

The to die for Spanish lasagna?

The standard procedure Rice and beans?

OR

The F***** Incredible OX tails that took all day to cook and were torturous to wait for!

Maybe it was my Dad’s fault? He did have a crazy sweet tooth!

Entenmann’s this, Drakes that, Little Debbie’s, you name it we ate it.

We dedicated Sundays to go to the “thrift shop” and seemingly empty the place out.

If you’re not sure what a “thrift shop” is, go to your local supermarket aisle that has all of the cakes and other “bad stuff”. Now imagine an entire small supermarket filled with products just like this!

Sounds like heaven right?

I guess that’s why we went there on Sundays usually.

(P.S. You better believe we were washing these goodies down with 1-2 gallons of milk……PER DAY!)

Maybe it was both of their faults…….

It was their choice to raise us in the Bronx surrounded by bodegas, pizza places, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, the Chinese spot, Brisas the Spanish spot. Oh yea, and all of these food options were within a blocks walk from us.

The truth is we had UNLIMITED access to any type of food and, my committed, incredibly hard-working parents made sure all their boys were fed and NEVER had to worry about being hungry.

The truth is my parents did not know any better.  Raising three boys within 13 months of age, balancing work and everything else, sometimes you go with whats quick, cheap and easy.

 They did not have access to the information that parents have access to today.

Society 20 years ago was nowhere nearly as informed as they are today.

Especially when it comes to “being -healthy”.

Are my parents to blame for growing up obese, self-conscious, and bullied for being fat?

The truth is, to a certain extent yes.

They made all the grocery purchasing decisions, they were responsible for our health and wellbeing.  They chose to make all the quick stops at Burger King, to wave down the Mister Softee truck or to just “grab a quick slice”. (This was really 2 large pies with a 2-liter bottle of Soda).

They could have limited the amount of food we ate, and we ate A LOT.

 Till, this day I blame my fasting eating habits on my family dynamic. Whoever ate the fastest, got to eat the most and I’ll be damned if I didn’t eat the most oxtails!

They never educated us on healthy foods or healthy habits. They never set a good example for eating healthy or exercising regularly.

Should they of? Perhaps…..

But I can’t blame them for not knowing what they didn’t know.

I can’t blame them for doing the best they can do with what they had.

And to be honest, they were too busy making sure they raised 3 boys who are respectful, driven and hard working.

And I can confidently say my parents did a damn good job at doing that.

I know I am lucky for having two-loving parents who demonstrated how to overcome adversity with love and commitment.

Some times they just liked to live life with a little “sugar” on top, but all things considered...

 I will take that trade-off any day of the week, because I know I’m luckier than most.

These experiences growing up have allowed me to empathize with a lot of the kids I work with and have motivated me to be as impactful as I can toward the young men and women who are looking to improve their health.

I’ve realized that being overweight wasn’t the finish line, but when you are overweight it feels like it. It feels like nothing will change and you will be overweight forever……..and it is really hard to make a change or get motivated when that thought is at the forefront of your mind. 

It did take something tragic in my life to trigger some change, but all that matters is things changed and they changed for the better.

Now, enough about me.

I’ll save you all the in between from obese kid to fit gym owner and cut right to the chase.

YOU as a parent are responsible for your child’s health.

This means educating them, making sure they are active, making sure they eat well, making sure they are loved and putting them in environments that are supportive of these things.

I am not saying you shouldn’t treat your child to certain things but, if you are aware that your child’s health is on the decline, then as a parent you must take some ACTION.

Here is a list of somethings you can do immediately.

Take your child grocery shopping with you and educate them on healthy food choices.

Be active with your child, go for walks, runs, hikes, bike rides. Make being active a normal routine!

Enroll your child into different sports and fitness activities.

Keep them hydrated with water! A few bottles a day for most children is plenty!

Keep the house filled with healthy snacks, fruits and vegetables.

Plan their meals and get them involved in the process!

And lastly,

Be a role model!

Be the type of person you want your child in terms of character but most importantly in terms of health!

(P.S. Love you Mom and Dad! Thanks for everything!)

-John Moljo



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