My daughter is probably my greatest motivation to live a healthy life.
She looks just like me, and she wants to do everything just like Mommy does. Paying attention to this fact helps to get me going when I’d really rather skip my workout for a day.
I don’t want her to follow in my footsteps of avoiding exercise like the plague until adulthood.
I want her to have the confidence of strength.
My greatest hope is that she finds a sport (or seven) that she loves, and a peer group that loves to play those sports with her.
God, I hope she’s more coordinated than her mother. That would really help.
I want to run and jump and play with her. I want strong, fit, healthy womanhood to be a foregone conclusion in her world. I want to lead by example.
In a perfect world, I would shield her from all the voices telling her that her body’s not good enough.
I grew up with an older woman in my family telling me I was embarrassingly heavy. Her voice echoed through the years as I developed paralyzing shame and disastrously low self-esteem. I know the harm that a cruel voice can do.
So, I do my best to build my little girl up and to keep the cancer of female body issues away.
To that end, I took off 100 lbs without ever breathing a word of ‘diet’ to my children. I don’t want them to know that one’s size can cause them pain. Every day they get to live innocent of those issues is precious to me.
It wasn’t easy, because my girl is as smart as they come. She notices that Mommy doesn’t have dessert when the rest of the family has dessert. She notices my cheat days. “Mommy only eats sugary things on special days like birthdays.”
I don’t tell her I fantasize about swimming in a vat of Ben & Jerry’s for the rest of my days.
Instead, I tell her too much sugar doesn’t make my body feel as good as I like, so I don’t eat too much of it. That’s enough for her. She still gets to have dessert, so she’s happy.
She doesn’t always make it easy, though.
One day she came into my room when I was clearing the plus-sized clothes out of my closet. She wanted to know what I was doing. I told her some of my clothes were too big for me, so I was getting rid of them. She suggested I put them on a shelf for when I got bigger, like we do with the clothes that are too big for her.
I had to bite my tongue HARD. Must not tell her I’d rather set a match to them.
When she saw my first set of Before & After pictures, she looked back and forth between the ‘before’ picture and me. She was puzzled. It took me a year to lose all the weight, and of course it came slowly. A year is a lifetime to her, and the lady on the left doesn’t really look so much like her mommy anymore. Then, I saw a light bulb go on over her head.
“Oh!” she said. “That’s when you had a baby in your tummy, huh, Mommy?”
I just smiled. “Something like that, sweetie.”
Please write something about how your hunky trainer husband is also one of the most amazing pastry chefs ever. How do you compliment his talents without eating “your” 1/4 of the tart?
I’m certainly inspired by your story. You’re lucky you learned this lesson before menopause. I’m having to learn it now, at 52, and it’s much harder. Thanks.
Was that the same older female who’s related (by marriage) to both of us? Who thinks Charlotte, age 1, is pudgy in her swimsuit? Just curious, because I still have issues from this person as well. Different ones, but hurtful ones nonetheless.
On another note, I very much relate to your desire to model a healthy, active lifestyle for your daughter even though it doesn’t come naturally. Let’s do this thing!