According to the National Eating Disorder Association, 40 to 60 percent of young girls start to feel anxiety about their body size or shape by the age of 6. About 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from an eating disorder at some point in their life, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating. Moms and even Dads unconsciously send messages to their children every day about how they should look by the words we say to ourselves. If you say, “I’m so fat” out loud in front of your kid, what message are you sending to them? Are you telling your daughter that they have to look perfect? Are you telling your son that only women with perfect bodies are worthy and all others are to be teased?
As a health and fitness professional for half of my life, I made a conscious effort to send the right messages to my daughter. It’s sometimes difficult in a world of spandex, airbrushed Fitspo images, and goals of “perfect, chiseled bodies”. I stopped subscribing to mainstream fitness magazines that could make her (and me) compare bodies. I talked about “health and fitness”, stressing being healthy. I explained what exercise and eating healthy, whole foods does for the inside of our bodies and for our brains. I talked about having energy, being strong, being smart. We talked together about realistic body image and how the media and celebrities can distort those images. I told her she didn’t have to go to school looking like a fashion model, but I did expect her to shower every day. 🙂
Did I make mistakes? Sure I did. I didn’t buy Barbies for her and some family members thought that was extreme. I bought science kits, educational toys, and sports equipment. However, as I look at my now adult daughter, I think I did alright. She graduated from college where she played a year of softball, she was married last year, she has a successful job, she’s strong and athletic, she’s kind and thoughtful, but can also stand up for herself. I remember once when she was in college, we were talking on the phone and she mentioned her roommate’s obsession with weight. She told her roommate that they were the same size, so when she says she’s fat she is also saying they are both fat. She told her roommate to accept herself, exercise and eat right if she doesn’t feel healthy. I was so proud of my daughter…she actually WAS listening to her mom all of those years!
Reading this blog from Beauty Redefined made me think about why I do what I do. I’m not a “typical” personal trainer who will push you to obtain a “perfect” body (whatever that is). I am an educator of healthy lifestyles. I don’t want you to lose weight in an intense 6 week program. I want you to know how to eat and how to be active for the rest of your life. I want you to fight off preventable disease. I work primarily with individuals with chronic disease and older adults. I teach people with Parkinson’s disease to be more active and to be confident in their abilities, sometimes helping them re-learn something we take for granted…walking. I don’t want you to exercise or eat healthy for vanity reasons. I want you to do this to feel healthy, to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, to increase neuroplasticity in your brain, to feel confident in yourself, and to be strong. I want you to know that regardless of how you were teased as a child or even if you were abused, you are worth taking care of.
Take time to examine your reasons to lose weight. Is it to look like some celebrity? It is because your significant other thinks so and so is “hot”? Is it because you look at magazines and think that’s how you should look? Do you think you’re supposed to have a “thigh gap”? Have you bought into the myth that skinny means healthy? Rethink and redefine your ideas on weight and body size. You will be a much healthier and happier person!
Check out the post, “If You Must Think About Your Weight, Think These 10 Things” by Beauty Redefined at http://www.beautyredefined.net/if-you-must-think-about-your-weight/