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July 27, 2011


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As a mom, getting extra weight is indeed a problem. Aside from its effects on our physical appearance, it also affects our emotional and psychological aspects. However, there are many methods that can help us back in shape. We can do exercises or we can go to a surgeon and ask for help.

I don't have daughters but agree that children and adults need to be happy with their size, provided they are a healthy size -- and it's a shame that girls are influenced by skinny supermodels, etc. However, my husband, my younger son and I are all overweight (just within "healthy" BMI, but all with obvious rolls of fat around our bellies - more than just little "love handles"). I believe we are teaching our younger son good habits when we talk to him about these rolls of fat and teach him that this is not healthy. He was getting fatter little by little, so we worked with him to cut down on snacks and exercise more. He now weighs himself frequently (as do my husband and I), and happily tells us if his weight seems to be doing well. Of course we have taught him that his weight will keep going up naturally as he gets taller. It's much easier to arrest the process of getting fat if you are aware and take steps when you are first getting some tummy rolls, IMHO.

When I found out I was having a daughter weight and body image were one of the primary concerns I had in thinking about helping her develop healthy habits. So many girls seem to have issues with this. Probably because so many Moms do. She's only one now so I'm still basking in the joy of her rolly thighs and protruding tummy, but I know some day that will change for her.

I so often do nothing, using the excuse that it won't be done well or it won't matter. You are right though, something is better than nothing. I am desperately trying to learn this now. I even put myself on a schedule, starting tomorrow morning at 5 to get myself back on track for my health and my sanity.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this! Great post.

I think innovative, research-based youth development/prevention programs is a great supplement to anything positive you do at home... I am a part of Girls on the Run (www.girlsontherun.org) and with our after-school running program, driven by lesson-based curricula, 3rd-8th grade girls learn about self-respect, good eating & exercise habits, confidence, bullying. The research shows that these habits at this age help to prevent risky behaviors later on--eating disorders, smoking/alcohol, unsafe sex practices, etc. We served more than 100,000 girls across the nation last year and we're definitely growing! Our national sponsors include Garmin, New Balance, Goody, and Secret...we're also supported by Let's Move!, the President's Council on Nutrition and Fitness, and the American Medical Association Foundation. If your daughter is in the right age range, you can check out the website and look for a site near you!! Email me with any questions, I'd be happy to tell you more! =) kalvxf@gmail.com

Can I just say: WAY TO GO, KRISTEN. You're so honest, and so strong. And you're a fantastic mother. Who wants to look up to someone who's perfect? Such an unattainable ideal.

And with that me and my daughters will finish that chocolate cream pie I purchased, and enjoy it without any guilt!

My daughter is now two.
I will at all costs try to not let her feel self conscious of her looks. I realise this will be a battle I will ultimately loose. What with all the mags and just general teenager banter about the issue.

I have come from a bad place with regards to weight loss, but I managed through support to get out of that hole. I still have instances where I freak out about my weight, but I have learnt that I can cope with it. Took me years to learn this. Years.

My daughter is obsessed with weight gain and looking skinny. I have struggled to find ways to encourage her to be comfortable with her own body and self image. After months of pain and dismay, I found that her Facebook friends were posting comments on her page about how she looked chubby in certain photos. Apparently, this started the snowball affect. We talked and she is starting to see that they are just being mean and she doesn't need to put so much weight on their opinions. This is still a work in progress but such a tough challenge for mothers.

I work with women with children and this is a constant struggle and it is starting at a much earlier age than we remember.

Sally Myyer

I should have said, "I never put myself or the way I look down in front of my daughter." Oops.

I grew up with a fat-phobic mom. She is itty-bitty, but both of her sisters are obese, and she put that fear of getting fat on me. She really started doing this when I hit puberty and wasn't the tiny thing I was when I was younger.

She monitored every bite. Every morsel that went into my mouth in her presence. So, of course, as soon as I was out of her sight, I ate crap. I wasn't really over weight before she started hovering over me and my plate, but I put weight on as soon as she started because I had the mentality, "eat what you want now, so she won't be all over you later."

She put me on Nutri-System when I was 16, and of course, I lost weight. She went on and on about how skinny I was, and how good I looked, she bought me all new clothes, etc. Outwardly, to me, it was never about my health. So, I lost weight, sure, but I didn't learn how & what to eat for myself. It was to make her happy. Because if I was skinny, she was happy.

I recall gaining about 3 pounds from my lowest weight. One day I was changing my shirt in front of her and she said, "Oh, Karen. What happened? You looked so good!" And she started CRYING. We're talking about a gain from 117 to 120 pounds. Yeah. That'll mess you up.

It's taken YEARS, literally, to get HER fat dialog out of my head. I am a normal weight now on my terms, not hers. So, I consciously do things in my house to change the fat dialog:

1) I never put myself or the way I look down in front of her. I never put anyone ELSE down for the way they look - especially not in her presence.

2) I started telling her when she was a preschooler and could understand me - "You look exactly the way that you are supposed to look. A healthy, happy little girl." This is an especially important message for us to send to her because she was born with a a cranio-facial birth defect. And, since we believe in God, we also tell her, "God doesn't make mistakes."

3) I model the behavior of taking good care of myself for her. I eat healthy foods, I exercise, and I take pride in what my body is able to do - not just how it looks.

4) When my mom starts saying things in front of her like, "She's going to be tall and thin, unlike us. That's WONDERFUL!" I say, "Mom, she's going to look exactly like she's supposed to." My niece is overweight, and I won't let her talk in a negative way about her weight (which she does, regularly) in front of anyone in the family.

I'm breaking the cycle.

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I worry about the day my girl is going to say that, too. I actually already do tell her how proud I am that she knows how to stop eating when she's full, because then she won't get sick to her stomach. And we talk about how important exercise is if you don't have recess to run around. You made a really good point about not knowing how to lose weight except not eating -- that was my problem, too. I thought my body was just that way and there was nothing else I could do about it, when in fact, you're right -- small changes do make a difference, and you don't have to go haywire to accomplish some goals. It's hard to remember that, though. Great post.

And for our sons.

This body conscience thing isn't just limited to girls. Thanks to our pediatrician, who I loved up to this point, my son thinks he's fat. He is very tall, and slim. When the Dr. checked the lovely BMI chart, which averages weight, height and age together to determine if you are of a heathy fat content, it said my son is borderline obese. Since both of our kids are the height of kids two years older then them, the chart tells us that they are fat. The doctor told this to us in front of my kids, and now my son keeps grabbing at his non existent fat in his belly all day long. He is 8, and I hate that he has this image in his mind already. I'm all for making Americans try to be healthier, but this is crazy. And really, half of our plates are salads at dinner and he runs around at soccer like crazy. I wish I could undo that appointment.

I'm like Sarah @ becoming Sarah. I never thought twice about my weight growing up, and while I had some issues in college, they had less to do with weight as weight, and more to do with... well, sex. Frankly.

Anyhoo: I've two skinny, mini daughters built just like me. I'm sure they will struggle more with the fact that they won't have breasts of any size, but I keep my eye out for body image issues now even though they are only 4 and 6. We all eat healthfully, and at this point I don't think eating and body image are linked for them (if that makes sense). It's more about feeling good than looking good, and I'd like it to stay that way. That's very much how I think about health and my body: as long as I feel good, I'm okay. (I would feel better if I got more sleep and some exercise that wasn't laundry-related, but there are only so many hours in a day.)

Good post and good discussion. It's healthy for us to know our hot buttons and how to deal with them when it comes to our children.

This really couldn’t have come at a better time for both myself, and my 8 year old. I’ve struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember. My mom’s always been obsessed with being thin, to the point of having liposuction, and she’s never been shy about the fact that I could “lose a few”. I too used to just not eat or extreme under eat to lose weight when the pants would struggle to zip. But now, 9 months post-partum and breastfeeding, starving myself is not an option if I want to keep feeding the babe(nor is it healthy for me blah blah blah). And while the 15 minutes a day in my company gym isn’t going to quickly shed the 20-30 lbs I want to lose, it’s better than nothing and it DEFINITLY beats tearing myself up over not fitting in the shred (which I know is only 20 minutes and I should totally do it but am exhausted and lazy once the kids are done needing me after a long day and I’m totally just making excuses because Jillian kicks my ass and makes me cry and I just don’t want to!). Being 5’2” and, gulp, 181 pounds (omfg I can’t believe I just typed that shit for the entire www to see. This is anonymous, right?), I don’t need “perfect”, I’ll settle for, um, ANYTHING below 181 and the ability to get my ass off the sofa without having to push off as if I’m still 9 months pregnant.

As for my 8 year old, she teeters between super crazy active can’t ever sit still, and bump on a log how many carbs can I shove down my throat before my mom notices while I watch the tube because it’s just too damn hot to play outside. In essence, she’s my twin, and I’m terrified she’ll have the unhealthy relationship with herself that I’ve struggled with all my life. I see her compare her belly to those of her dance classmates. It’s hard to hide the slight gut she has wearing a leotard, and while I keep my mouth shut about it and just gently encourage her to eat more veggies and less bread, she’s starting to vocalize her insecurities. I recently started researching young singers and actresses who are NOT a size 0. It’s not to encourage her to be okay with being overweight (not that she is), but to discourage her from assuming that every starlet is 80-90 pounds, since I know from experience that those are the females she’ll be looking to once I’m no longer her favorite role model. It’s just not in the cards for her to be that tiny. Her father and my genetics prove that to be true.

Ugh, I’m already freaking myself out just thinking of how complex this all is and how it really doesn’t need to be. This subject, alone, deserves an entire book! How NOT to F*ck your Daughter Up by Learning How to Chose Healthy and Self-Loving Over Anorexic and Self-Loathing. Yes, you can totally use that as the title, so long as you give me some props for being a literary genius.
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That's something Brad Bird (Pixar) says: "The perfect is the enemy of the good."

After having 5 kids I've got 15kgs of extra weight on me [no idea what that = in lbs. Seriously America you gotta finally go the kg way like Australia has]. To the online weight calculators I am on the verge of obese.. to everyone that knows me IRL and all the Drs I have seen over he years I *needed* to put on some weight. And I am now a 'healthy' weight.

Gotta love the internet for all that 'correct' info huh.

And that's what scares me. My girls getting online doing them BMI calculator thingies and thinking they are overweight. They are skinny little things, like I was. But recently both [one 15yo, the other 9yo] commented they are fat. Same as you I had a WTF moment.

Lucky for me I explained some facts to them, and they listened. They don't eat crap. They don't drink crap. They both exercise. They are both healthy, and they are both very far from over weight. I showed them some pictures of extremely skinny chicks, and some pics of overweight chicks.. then I asked which one they looked like. Both said in between. I told them "that's right, because you are neither. You are healthy, and you are perfect the way you are".

Haven't heard a peep about weight since.

I've had an extremely unhealthy relationship with food & my weight since about age 12, and I'm so afraid my daughter (age 3) will have those same unhealthy relationships. It took 2 years to lose the last of the baby weight (I had gained 67 pounds on my 5'6", 125 lb frame) because I didn't do anything physical other than dog walks and the occasional bike ride. It finally took a bout of major depression and new meds with "loss of appetite" as a side affect to lose the last 20 pounds, and woo boy, did those pounds drop FAST. Hooray for fitting into my size 4's again, and to hell with depression!

Of course, then I was terrified I'd gain the weight back as my body adjusted to the meds & my appetite returned, and while I did gain a few pounds back, that just meant that I couldn't slip my jeans off without unbuttoning/unzipping them to use the bathroom anymore.

My relationship with food still sucks. To me (in my current mental state; at one point, I used to enjoy a really great meal), eating is a waste of time, and I'd rather be doing something else. I know i have to be careful about this & set a good example for my daughter now before I'm forced to add "doesn't eat" to the list of things I've ruined about her.

But, I do not talk about weight or physical beauty in front of my daughter, except to tell her how beautiful she is, and thus far, she hasn't picked up on the fact that mama often doesn't eat until mid-afternoon on the weekends. Unless we make Pillsbury Orange Rolls for breakfast...mmmmmm orange rolls :)

Anyway.....you hit the nail on the head (god, I hate cheesy cliches) with your "if I can't do it perfectly, I won't do it all" statement. That is, in large part (like, 99.9%), how I have been living my life for as long as I can remember, and I wish I knew where & when the notion of perfection became so prevelant in my thinking; when I became paralyzed to even START something new because I didn't think I'd be able to do it perfectly, and if I can't do something perfectly, why bother doing it all?

So yeah.....I've got some issues to work through before I pass on all my crazies to my daughter ;)Therapy & meds help, but as anyone who's been in therapy knows, the real work to change & grow is entirely on yourself, and meds aren't going to fix what has been deeply embedded in your brain for 30-somthing years.

great post ~ thank you for making me pause to think about it this morning!

This is where I get mad at how some of the anti-childhood obesity stuff is being handled. Our pediatrian's assistant tried to talk to my very small in every way 5 year old when I lost it. I told her that under no circumstance should my daughter equate health with weight considering her size. Same girl asked me if she was getting fat because her leotard kept riding up. God help our little girls!

The big battle that we have in our house is making sure the four year old knows she is beautiful no matter what she wears. She always asks in relationship to whatever she puts on, to which I respond that she is beautiful no matter what she wears. I try very hard not to talk about my weight around her. The closest we've gotten is talking about how my stomach will shrink down after I had the baby. It was because we were talking about my lap coming back. I will start exercising again, but we talk about being healthy and how exercise is important. I save the it sucks that it takes so much to lose weight discussions until she is in bed.

I was extraordinarily lucky to be raised by my mother - I don't know what she did right, but it never occurred to me to be self-conscious about my weight until I was twenty-something and pregnant. My girl-friends never really talked about weight or make-up when we were growing up either, so I think I was a bit of an anomaly, but since I'm still in touch with those friends and their families and since my parents are very active in my daughter's life, I hope that I can pass that same self-assurance on to my daughter. She'll be surrounded by strong feminists, people who are careful with their words and don't own scales and believe that there is more to healthy eating than calories. I hope that makes a difference, but sometimes I wonder: what if it doesn't? What if she's five and she's searching for a word and she says she looks fat? How will I handle it? What will I say?

I think there are some things in parenting that I will never be ready for. Hearing my child express dissatisfaction with who they are is one of them.

My 5 year old has started talking about being fat, and it really worries me. She's taller than other 5 year olds, and people will comment (stupidly) that she's "so big!". She doesn't have a speck of fat on her frame--but she doesn't grasp that people are using "big" in place of "tall". In her mind, BIG = FAT.

It also doesn't help that senile, 70+ year old Grandpa teases her for picking at her meals by shouting, "Oh, she's afraid of getting FAT, huh? You're not fat! Eat!" Stupid coot.

I hear it gets worse in elementary school when teachers start talking about food groups, healthy foods, vitamins and the like. That suddenly dinners become a battle with kids informing mom that fish sticks have an unhealthy calories from fat ratio and analyzing nutrition labels like Anorexics-in-training.

This is so hard to grasp. I am bigger now than I have been ever and I now it is because of that very mentality--"I don't have an hour to exercise so I won't." Toss a metabolism problem into the mix and it's so frustrating.

We talk a lot at our house about being healthy and making healthy choices, and I try not to vent my own disgust with my current body as I don't want to pass that on to my daughter like my mom did to me--I was never the right weight once I hit adolescence and my mom was always trying to get me to diet. I wasn't obese but I have PCOS and losing weight is hard (if not impossible).

My current problem is that my daughter (who is 3.5) has decided that she isn't pretty without makeup. I don't know where she gets this as I don't own or wear any makeup. It is frustrating because we will tell her she is beautiful and she says "don't lie to me". It's hard.

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