While at a party I overheard my daughter describe herself as fat. If you know my daughter, or were to look at her, you would know that her being fat is far from reality. My daughter swims four times a week and does not snub fruits and veggies at meal times or for snacks. However, in comparing herself to another child at the party, she labeled herself as fat.
I quickly responded in that mom voice, almost scolding, that she was not fat and ended the conversation. Unfortunately, I have not reopened the conversation with her. Why does she think she’s fat? Why would she say that? Could it be because of my struggle with weight that I have not broached the topic again or that she believes herself to be fat?
At this age, the preteen years, concerns over self image is not too unusual; especially with over 40% of girls wishing they were thinner; I guess I was not ready for this new chapter of parenthood. The last thing I want my daughter to worry about is her weight or her appearance.
As I think about what to do next and how to address this situation, I focus inward, at my own outlook, at my struggles with weight and self image. How can I help my daughter?
First, open a dialogue; find out why she things she’s fat; determine what internal dialogue she is having with herself.
Second, continue to stress good health not weight. She is a competitive swimmer and makes good food choices, maybe I can take a few lessons from her.
Healthy eating seems to be the theme lately. Whole grains, fruits, veggies; having to keep count and make sure you get your daily fill. Another piece of the puzzle of life, another ball to juggle in our day to day routines. As a parent, I try to make sure that my kids eat healthy. Fruit and skim milk at breakfast, fruit and/or a veggie in their lunch box; wheat bread for sandwiches; and veggies with dinner every night. That’s a lot to think about in addition to paying the bills, working, making sure planners are signed, etc. Then there’s the planning of the meals. I know it is so much easier to pop some chicken nuggets in the oven, boil water for mac-n-cheese, or pay homage to the fast food giants. Yes, our family does, on occasion, resort to quick, easy, and possibly not so healthy meal choices.
Kidshealth.org provides several tips in promoting healthy eating for kids. “Have regular family meals at home – this promotes a comforting ritual for both parents and kids to use this time around the table to catch up on life and grab a breather from the hectic day; cook more meals at home; get kids involved in the cooking and shopping, make a variety of healthy foods available and keep your pantry free of empty calorie snacks; and let the kids choose.”
Sounds easy right? Hmmm . . . I’m going to have to say “No,” on that. It’s not easy when we’re juggling busy schedules and fast foods are so readily available. How easy it is to endorse a “Do as I say, not as I do,” atmosphere with our kids, feeding them the healthy stuff, while we’re eating cool whip for dinner? I guess it’s fair to say, if we, as parents, follow our children’s example of healthy eating and go on the “kid diet,” we’d together become a healthy family. However, getting started is the most difficult part.
I recently read an article about working out, again another thing we need to squeeze into our already tight schedules. Working out is that activity we are forced to think about as we attempt to squeeze into our jeans too. The article quoted Ellen DeGeneres, “I gotta work out. I keep saying it all the time. I keep saying I gotta start working out. It’s been about two months since I’ve worked out. And I just don’t have the time. Which uh..is odd. Because I have the time to go out to dinner. And uh..and watch TV. And get a bone density test. And uh.. try to figure out what my phone number spells in words.”
I can relate to this quote in so many ways when it comes to working out. I can come up with a wide variety of excuses as to why I cannot go work out, laundry, dishes, chauffeuring, cleaning, exhaustion; when in reality there is one really good excuse for me to make it to the gym, my health.
Finally, I need to look at my own internal dialogue and combat my own weight and self image issues. This is the most difficult aspect of my life. I need to be an example to my daughter in many ways, including a positive self image. We have a saying in our house, “When mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” Well, that is very true. However, what about, “When mama ain’t healthy, ain’t nobody healthy,” well, except for the kids because she makes sure they are eating their fruits and veggies.
How can we, as super busy families, make the healthy eating, healthy lifestyle thing work for us? Be selfish, start with ourselves, start with the mom, the dad, make eating healthier and getting in exercise our personal priority. From there we can then lead by example and maybe shed that 10 year old pregnancy fat in the process.
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I am in the process of writing more, life has been so busy.
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2012 Missouri Delegate for Parenting Magazine’s Mom Congress
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