I have carefully monitored my weight for years. If I ate too much the night before I would more than likely skip breakfast or workout harder to offset the calories consumed. If I felt as if I were out of control with food, I may decide to restrict grains, sugar, or dairy. Depending on where I was in my ‘diet’ regime, if my children offered me a bite of their tasty treat – I would more than likely refuse.
Each morning before I get in the shower I step on the scale to see where I fall in regards to my comfortable weight range. Too high and I would simply adjust food, but my mood would be affected. I would feel frustrated and annoyed that I weren’t doing a ‘better job’ keeping my weight in check. Once I decided I needed to rid myself of my scale, I turned to the measuring tape – something to monitor where I was physically.
I don’t know when food, diet, exercise, or measuring became so important. Along the path of life, I realized I needed to maintain a certain size in order to accept myself as okay. I’ve long understood the importance of not making a big deal about my weight to my daughter. We don’t discuss thin or fat. Our bodies simply are. I try to teach her the value of exercise because it makes us feel good.
Then she got older. She started looking at me with her deep brown eyes. She would watch the way I curved the tape around my waist. She would watch the disappointment on my face as I chose my ‘bigger’ pants to offset the high number. She started declining breakfast. She chose more veggies because it was better for her. She said no to treats. Her face would tighten if I mentioned that she had a tummy like her daddy’s because they love the same foods.
Without pomp or ceremony, I created fear and stress for my daughter. With my actions I shamed her. Our bodies became something to control with food and we were judged as good or bad based on what we eat.
I never said a word about food. I never pinched my waist and said I needed to lose a little. I guided her with my actions. I taught her that it was okay to skip meals and that we should always wear our skinny jeans. In my insecurity I made room for her to fall subject to rejection.
Teaching my daughter to eat is not as easy as telling her. I have to show her. I have to be brave to eat with gusto the food that is filled with calories. I have to enjoy an omelet filled with cheese and meat. I have to dip carrots in pesto and lick the dressing off my fingers. I have to make thick brownies and top them with whipped cream. Not to teach her gluttony, but to free her from fear. To step out of the cage that says if we eat such and such we are teaching our children to be fat.
What trains our children to gain weight and not respect their bodies is what we mirror to them. So, we run outside and play chase. We wear our bathing suits without shame or worry of our jiggling thighs. We dance and watch the way our strong bodies twist and twirl to the beat.
It is the freedom of fear and embarrassment. That says I can listen to my body and feed it what it needs. I can enjoy food and I can enjoy my physicality. Together they are beautiful and good.
We eat. We are women, mother and daughter. We were not made to be sustained on rainwater and flower blossoms. We were created to run races, to change worlds, to teach that beauty is not a size or a face – it is a spirit of wild adventure that cannot be tamed by man, demand, or expectation.