The Weight is Over – Week 58: Truth or Dare (to lie)?

One of the unexpected side effects of losing weight over these last 12 months is handling people’s reactions, especially if I’ve not seen them in a while.

Wow, look at you! You look great! You’ve lost how much weight? 

Doni celebrates one year at Align. Photo by Matthew R. Lister.

Doni celebrates one year at Align, December, 2016, with a MEDIUM T-shirt. Photo by Matthew R. Lister.

When I first started working out with Matthew R. Lister at Align, I welcomed and cherished those reactions. I was in such scary, foreign territory, and I was working so hard and felt so sure I would fail, because I’d failed at every other attempt to lose weight.

I needed external validation that my hard work and sacrifice were paying off, and my results were showing. I didn’t trust my mirror, or even my increasingly baggy clothes. (Which reminds me, I bought my first pair of medium workout pants today to go with my medium T-shirt.)

But as time passed, and I grew more comfortable in my shrinking skin, the more uncomfortable I began to feel about people’s observations about my body. In fact, the more effusive the compliment, the more embarrassed I felt about how awful I must have looked before.

Back when I was heavier, people either said nothing about my body (which is probably a good policy anyway) or they’d flat out lie, with enthusiasm, as if trying to convince us both. “You look great!”

It’s like that line where the wife asks the husband if she looks fat, to which he replies, “Do I look stupid?”

A tipping-point awareness. Photo by Joshua Domke.

This photo was taken one month before Doni started working at Align with Matthew R. Lister. She and her grand kids are making pasta.

I did not look great.


Funny thing is, there’s no societal taboo about commenting on people’s bodies if they’ve lost weight, or if they’re skinny (I’m not in that second category – yet 😉 ). In those cases, people feel free to verbalize their observations, and might even say something like, “You’re too thin,” or “Go eat a cookie!”

One of my workout buddies and I were discussing this recently at Align (as we did three sets of 2-minute planks). She’s lost more than 60 pounds, and frankly, I never thought she needed to lose that much in the first place. But she did lose weight, and I will say she looks awesome and fit and is on her way to having enviable Michelle Obama arms.

She’s hearing a new twist to the comments, and she doesn’t quite know what to do with it.

“People are starting to tell me to quit losing weight, that I am looking too skinny,” she said. “They ask me when I’m going to stop the program.”

Of course, neither of us plans to stop the program, because this is a lifestyle. But if you turn the tables on what people are saying to her, I cannot imagine a similar statement to an overweight person.

Hey, you should lose weight, because you’re too fat.

Only three kinds of people (other than physicians) would dare say that: the cruel, the mentally challenged, or children. Kids have no problem stating the obvious. Because they lack filters, they are brutally honest.

Case in point was years ago, when I was helping out in Joe’s first-grade class, where I noticed that one little girl was staring at me. I imagined that she was looking at me for any number of reasons. Maybe she thought I was pretty. Or maybe she liked my outfit. Or maybe she was admiring my shiny hair. When she finally spoke, it turned out there was another choice I’d not considered.

“You have lipstick on your teeth.”

Noni Doni and her grandchildren.

Noni Doni and her truth-telling grandchildren.

I was reminded of the topic of brutal honesty when I kept my grandson overnight Sunday, and then he spent the day with me Monday delivering holiday baskets. With both kids, when they spend the night we have a precious little routine where I sing “good morning to you,” (to the tune of “Happy Birthday”) when they wake up. I am certain they cherish this special time as much as I do.

After my song was over my adoring grandson gazed into my eyes and finally spoke his first words of the day.

“Noni you have a little dried thing in your nose.”


The rest of the day was as I expected: busy, but manageable. We were in and out of the car, dropping off baskets, many of which were delivered to offices. All these drop-offs required lots of chatting, which is why the process can take so long. After our last stop we returned to the car. I glanced in my rear view mirror, and then screamed.

“Oh no!”

My grandson looked up, alarmed, from his wolf book in the back seat.

“What’s wrong, Noni?”

“Oh my gosh! There’s a goober (that’s what we call it in our family) poking out of my nose!”

“Noni, I told you that this morning.”

Then he returned to his book.

Sure enough. He had told me. And, of course, I’d looked in the mirror when I’d brushed my teeth and applied make-up and didn’t see anything. But darn that “little dried thing” – because it must have retreated with inhales and emerged on exhales. All day. At every stop. With every conversation.

Merry Christmas! Happy holidays! In goes the goober. Out goes the goober.

I would have obsessed about that goober malfunction during the whole drive to drop off my grandson at his home, except we were nearly run off the road by a young guy in a beater car that decided to overtake and pass all the cars in our merging lane, only to get at the front of the line and then slam on his brakes. I yelled, more out of reflex, “Ass hole!”

I regretted it immediately.

“What?! Wait, Noni, what did you say just now?”

Damn! Busted by a 6-year-old for swearing.

I apologized, and said I shouldn’t have cussed. I explained I was scared, and I’d reacted by saying something I shouldn’t have. But as it turned out, it was my lucky day. My grandson had been so engrossed in his book that he hadn’t actually heard what I’d said. Just the inflection. He asked me to repeat it. I refused.

So for the rest of the 20-minute drive he created a cussing version of Rumpelstiltskin and tried to guess what terrible thing I’d said. I told him I wouldn’t say it, and I didn’t want him saying all the cuss words he knew just to guess, either. His biggest concern was that I’d tell his parents if he cussed. I said we could avoid that if he didn’t cuss.

Then he settled on spelling cuss words – but just a few letters from the words, so it wouldn’t be exactly like spelling the whole word. He’s an excellent speller. Finally, within a few miles, he knew he had me.

“Noni, does it have an “s” and an “i” – because if it does, I think I know the word. It’s stupid, right?”

Truth, or dare to lie?

“What a clever guesser you are. You are absolutely correct!”

Yes, I was dishonest, but it was for his (and my) own good.

Later, when I dropped off my grandson at his house I picked up and said hello to his sister, my little granddaughter, who was still talking excitedly about her Sunday dance recital; her first. She named all the people who’d brought her flowers, and then asked a question.

“Noni, why didn’t you get me flowers?”

Knife. To. The. Heart.

It hadn’t dawned on me to bring flowers to a 3-year-old’s dance recital. I felt horrible, not just that I hadn’t brought her flowers, but that she had thought about it enough to mention it more than 24 hours later.

Luckily, children get over things quickly, only to move on to the next pressing thing that pops into their little brains. She wrinkled her nose a little before she spoke.


“Yes, sweetie?”

“Did you brush your teeth today?”

That was it. Sometimes there’s only so much honesty a person can take, even when it’s for her own good.

I’m posting a photo of me now.


Feel free to tell me how awesome I look. Unless you’re a kid reading this. In that case, you can keep your brutal little opinions to yourself.

To everyone, I wish you a magical, wonderful Christmas and holiday season. I hope you get your heart’s desires, and that you are surrounded by adoring – beautifully tactful – people.

Doni Chamberlain
Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Chamberlain is an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, California.
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22 Responses

  1. Beverly Stafford says:

    Compliments or not, isn’t it wonderful that you want to go to Align and can no longer imagine life without exercise and good nutrition.  Goodbye fat; hello muscle.  And you now know that you can occasionally indulge – like during the holidays – and still remain fit.  One New Year’s resolution you won’t need to make is, “I’m going to get fit in 2017,” because you already are!  Happy holidays to you.

    • Oh, you are so correct, Beverly. (In fact, I may quote you in my New Year’s column. ) This will be the first New Years when I don’t say I’m going to “try” to get fit. I’ll just keep on keepin’ on with what I’m doing.

      Thanks for the support and encouragement, as always!

  2. Laughing, cringing, feeling your pain…. I hope you are gathering these columns together for a book.  Merry Christmas to you and your beautiful family – thanks for the inspiration and delightful honesty. All the very best in 2017.

  3. Michelle says:

    Am I lucky to be a 1st grade teacher because I hear those sorts of comments regularly. It always amazes me when a parent says they just “adore you,” from all the things I hear.  Here is a classic line from student I have never forgotten. “Mrs. Nicolls, did you know you have those lines around your mouth like Hillary Clinton?”

    • Ouch! Yes, I think first grade may be one of the best years for kids’ honest observations. They’re innocent enough, but still have undeveloped filters, but they have the vocabulary to express themselves.

      I remember my kids’ former preschool teacher, Barbara Lapp, used to say she would only believe half of what the kids said about their parents if we’d only believe half of what the kids said about her.

  4. DIANE B says:


  5. Karen C says:

    Doni, the “ In goes the goober. Out goes the goober” had me laughing so hard, I almost choked.  You are too funny.  I love your Thursday stories, and this one made my day, really!


    You need to come up with a standard answer for those who ask questions about when are you going to stop, you are too thin, etc.  I had the same thing happen to me, and I finally came up with, “I am following my doctors’ orders!”  I said it with a smile on my face, then walked away or quickly changed the subject.  It got very tiresome and began to drain me.  My husband’s business partner’s wife was the one who said it the best.  She gave me a huge hug, and whispered in my ear, “you look so healthy!”  I loved that comment and have never forgotten it.

  6. Josh says:

    You do look great Mama! I was really interested to hear what cuss words Austin knows. I’ve asked him before and the worst I could get out of him is the same “S-word”. If you let a “stupid” slip in our house the kids gasp like you just dropped an F-bomb. I guess we’re doing ok, especially considering how much I like to swear. Love ya.

    • (Thanks, honey.)

      Well, you must have inherited your love of swearing from your mother (and my mother), but I can count on one hand in these six years when I’ve cussed in front of the kids.

      You’ve done a great job convincing the kids that “stupid” is one of the worst words (and I agree), as well as the other one that starts with an “s” – shut up. Well done!

      I’ll just say, based upon the words he spelled for me during that drive, he’s aware of more cuss words than I imagined he knew. (Happily, none begin with “f”. Whew.)

      Love you, too. 🙂


  7. Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

    “In goes the goober, out goes the goober.”

    Brought me to tears. I think I pulled a rib muscle.

  8. Adrienne says:

    To quote Mary Poppins…..kinda: “Just a little bit of humor makes the medicine go down….or world go round…”

    I love when the comments are along the health lines. You look so healthy or energetic, or vital, or any one of a dozen comments along that line can make a person’s day. Have never understood the need to comment a person’s physical appearance; as if they thought you didn’t own a mirror. As a child I frequently heard things like,  “what big brown eyes you have.” and I aleays had to resist the urge to mooo….and sometimes I DIDN’T !!

    You continue to have an impact on some of us, you know….WAY beyond what you imagine. Keep those weekly reports coming. Keeps the rest of us honest.

  9. Barbara N. says:

    Doni, you look awesome! Thank you once again for another good read!

  10. Randall R Smith says:

    Good health is the greatest wealth we possess, yet too few regard this truth enough to have regular check ups and follow the advice given.  You asked us all to join your journey a year ago and I did lose and have maintained about ten pounds of loss.  There is more to go and progress is hopeful as the total since retirement from medicine has been thirty four pounds.

    Real purpose here is to encourage regular and thorough examinations annually.  I know people who have not seen a doctor in years and are are proud of it.  My recent experience is no different from many others, but bears revelation because there is much to know which is beyond us as we go about our daily routines.  My annual was a week ago.  I am symptom free except for the usual wear and tear of being 72.  Unknown and unknowable, my platelets have escaped control and are three times a normal high number.  More testing and evaluation are in process with treatment as dictated by those who know this malady.  If you don’t go, then you don’t know and the result can be fatal.  Waiting for a sign in this case could have been a stroke, a heart attack, may be just a lost eye or a foot.  Good health is more than feeling good, more than looking great, more than being able.  Promise yourself a New Year’s Resolution to see someone you trust and take the advice offered.

    • Randy, how well I remember and appreciate that you were one of the first to join me on this health journey. Congratulations on your weight-loss success, and thank you for the sobering message, too.

      Your platelets issue is very scary, and I’m glad you caught the news in time to turn things around in your favor.  I will take you up on the News Year’s resolution.

      Merry Christmas and happy New Year to you and yours.



  11. Canda Williams says:

    LOL!  What a crack up you are.  “In goes the goober.  Out goes the goober.” I can totally relate to the honesty of grandkids.  Oh they do keep us on our toes.  Merry Christmas, Doni.  I love you and miss you terribly! xoxo

  12. Ginny says:

    Marvelous story of the goober!  Only you could describe something that happened about someone, even if you were the individual!

    Have a Beautiful Christmas and a Blessed New Year!

    Love you……..

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