Full disclosure, before you think I’ve gone and become a tame mom, I still have moments of F-bombing. I tend to do it under my breath these days, but the truth is, profanities still happen around here. I have two kids, can you blame me?!
There was a word that was much more common in my daily vocabulary and I am doing my best to erase it ever since I became a mom.
I grew up as a competitive figure skater. Like other sports and activities where lean bodies are ideal, as I moved up the ranks, this type of body and weight were encouraged. Whether coaches and judges came right out and told you to lose weight, or gentle nudges were given, it was very obvious that this body was essential for success in the sport.
I spent a lot of time watching other skaters and comparing my body. I sized myself up in the mirror at ballet. I was athletic. I had muscles. This left me looking much larger than other girls with skinny little legs.
You hear people telling you that “muscle weighs more than fat” but when you hop on the scale and hear that other girls weigh “X” amount of pounds, you start to feel overweight. Numbers run through your head and you compare yourself to others.
The notion of diets came into my life at an early age. Other girls were discussing them, family members were on various diets, and weight was at the forefront of my mind. I even had a coach point out to me when I was 12 that I was developing because I was getting “fat” in my armpits. At the time, I was tiny, but regardless it should have never even been discussed and was very inappropriate.
I spent all of my teenage years and much of my early adulthood obsessed with my weight, exercise, and foods that I should/shouldn’t eat. While I was fortunate to never have an eating disorder, I definitely had a very unhealthy relationship with food, exercise, and body image.
Friends in high school were annoyed by my constant whining that I was “fat.” I was always looking for someone to tell me that I wasn’t. Even if I didn’t believe them, I needed that reassurance.
I may not be able to protect my girls from the pressures that awaits them in the outside world. But I am going to do my part by showing them a healthy relationship with my body. My weight might fluctuate. I may not feel my best at times, but I will certainly never utter the “fat” word in our house or anywhere else. I will enjoy my food and encourage our family to enjoy a variety of healthy foods. We will also enjoy every delicious and tasty bite we get to discover along the way. Food is not meant to cause guilt and exercise is not meant to be punishment for what we eat. Sweat is NOT your fat crying. It is the awesome bi-product of moving your muscles.
I will also do the best I possibly can to not criticize myself. This can be difficult, but young impressionable children do not need to see a role model or anyone else feeling dissatisfied with their bodies. Confidence can carry a person a very long way and I truly believe we can pass this attitude on not only to our children, but also to the people we surround ourselves with in our lives.
I have many female clients who refuse to use mirrors to correct their form or to ensure they are properly doing exercises because they do not want to see their reflection. I cannot tell you how much this saddens me. These amazing women are wonderful people. We should somehow be far past this discomfort with seeing our image. There is much more to ourselves besides a number on a scale. Beauty goes far beyond pounds or pant sizes.
Learning to love ourselves isn’t always easy, and there are years of adolescence and puberty to wreak havoc on young minds. Being body positive is a great way to set an example for young girls and boys. Even better, this positive attitude shares the love with yourself.
Regardless of whether you have children of your own, try to take a moment of pause before you criticize yourself or use the “f” word. Consider what it does to your own confidence and to the people around you. It is very likely that you are loved by many people and we often forget that when we put ourselves down, it hurts their feelings and confidence too. Let’s work together to raise a new generation of body confident children and to lift ourselves up at the same time.
How do you like to set an example for others? Share your confidence building ideas!