Another Sunday that of course started with…
waffles. We tried another recipe and it was a great one… really, you can’t go wrong with a carb topped with strawberries and syrup though:)
Beretta always sits there so patiently hoping that some food will accidentally be spilled.
Brooke had her first experience of stapling things together with me which was a huge highlight from the day.
Andrew pulled out this… I can’t.
He is starting Brooke early on the Angels love:)
We had a family dinner together at my sister’s house and it was packed with veggies. My sister made this huge stir-fry with a sauce made of soy sauce, chicken broth, garlic and ginger. We put it on top of brown rice and had we brought a salad for the side.
For dessert—> strawberries. As a family we are really trying to start having very healthy Sunday dinners together now and yesterday was a success.
He’s requesting me to give him ‘knuckles.’
I came across this draft of a post that I started a few months ago but never finished. It is still a constant on my brain and I would love to take some time to discuss it if that’s okay:
Let’s talk about a subject that I need your help on. A subject that I think about (sometimes obsessively). Something in my life that I worry a lot about (my mom suggested that she and I start a company where people hire us to worry about things for them because we are quite the professionals) and find myself tearing up the second I imagine me doing this whole thing wrong is the topic. A topic that I want to discuss with you to hear your ideas, point of view and stories.
Over the years, I have thought a lot about what things led me into my eating disorder and low self-esteem world that I lived in for many years. Was it the media, my perfectionist habits? Was it my way of coping with things that were rough or some poor decisions that I made during my college years that led to feeling bad about myself? Seeing friends around me struggling with eating disorders, was that it? I don’t really know the answer and sometimes I think we go through things just because we’ve got bigger lessons to learn BUT I want to make sure that I am doing things now to help the young girls in my life to feel confident and to love their bodies. So I’ve been spending time really trying to critically think about how I can do the best I can with this subject for Brooke and any other young girls that I might have an influence over.
About a year and a half years ago, I distinctly remember a conversation that was going on with a few girls in a hallway right next to a room with Brooke in it. The conversation started off innocently and then led to talking about things they wanted to change about themselves, how much weight they wanted to lose and how unhappy they were with their bodies.
After a few minutes of listening, I remember thinking about how Brooke was in the next room over. Yes, she was very young at the time but I just couldn’t bare the thought of her hearing this type of conversation and growing up thinking that these thoughts about ourselves are normal. I explained my feelings to the group I was talking with and it stopped immediately, everyone was very understanding. I decided that this was just not going to be a thing in my home. I decided at that moment that Brooke was not going to hear me say negative things about my body (which doesn’t mean I don’t have days where I think them…). I don’t remember one time hearing my mom talk negatively about her body as I was growing up and I decided I wanted to be just like her (for the 1 millionth reason). I want (key word want… I’m always a work in progress over here) Brooke to grow up with a mom that eats well (and that includes treats IMO), talks positively about herself, exercises because she loves her body and a mom that can teach her that her worth has nothing to do with her weight. That she is a daughter of God that has infinite worth.
I know that we can’t protect our kids from everything (even though I wish we could) but there are things in our control that we can do to help our girls and boys grow up to be confident in themselves. I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Also, I talk a lot about some of the things I want to focus on with our kids in this post about self-worth —> I strongly believe our integrity, service, faith/hope, smart decisions, physical health, talents and skills/accomplishments help shape the way we think about ourselves.
A few of the things that I believe I can do to help establish a healthy mindset in terms of exercise and food:
*Teach these kids to exercise because they love their bodies and as a way to take good care of their bodies. That our overall health (physically and mentally) benefit from exercise and that it isn’t about the calorie burn.
*I think kids pick up even on the way we look at ourselves in a mirror, let alone the things we say when we see ourselves. They can tell if we are disappointed, frustrated, annoyed etc. when we see our image and I sure don’t want them doing the same.
* I don’t think that if I am perfect at talking positively about my body that my kids will automatically have an amazing body image BUT I do think that if I am constantly picking myself apart in front of them that the odds are higher that my kids will pick up the same habits from me.
*Focus our compliments on non-physical things. I want our kids to see all of the amazing things about them.
*As you know, I refuse to go down the diet road because I don’t even want to come close to where I was 6ish years ago. Each of us has our own things going on with what works best for us food/exercise wise but I can’t imagine that extreme dieting or talking about these things in front of them can be helpful for our young girls. Example is everything and I think if we don’t want our kids to do something (now or later on in life).. we probably shouldn’t ourselves.
*And a whole lot of thoughts jumbled into one point that probably doesn’t make a lot of sense but I just hope I can teach them how to cope with life in healthy ways. Love them for who they are, no matter what. Build a relationship with them where they feel they can tell us everything. Build a trusting and open relationship (easier said than done right?!). Teach them that failure is a part of life, a learning experience and to focus on effort. I want to be highly supportive to help them feel like they can do things and help them to feel capable in their own worlds. Do what I can to help them feel loved.
What do you do in your world to help establish healthy self-esteems in your children?
How do you think we can teach our young girls self-love, a healthy outlook on food and exercise? Have any books/resources that you recommend about it?
What helped you growing up to build a healthy self image? What did not help?
What was the best part of your weekend? Have a good run? Eat something delicious?
I don’t have kids, but I used to teach high school girls. It’s definitely challenging to help them realize how much they’re worth, because they are constantly comparing themselves to others and seeing negative things about themselves. I always tried to lead by example and be confident in the person I am, even though that was challenging at times (thankfully they didn’t see just how insecure I used to/sometimes still can be around guys I’m interested in). BUT, I did always try to remind them of this truth: “You are valued. You are loved. And you matter.” I’m still working on always believing that for myself (because it was definitely not something I always believed growing up), but I do hope that more young women see just how wonderful they are, and I hope it’s something I’m able to teach my niece, as well.
The highlight of my weekend was my sister RUNNING HER FIRST MARATHON yesterday!! She did so great, and it was so special to be able to run the last part of it with her. She’s pretty incredible :)
This has been on my mind so much lately. My 7 year old has started to say things like “I don’t want to get fat”–she picks it up from other girls at school. It worries me, both for her and because I know there are other little girls at school who are thinking these things too. They’re 7! She runs and plays so much that’s it’s almost hard to keep weight on her; she eats more than I do. I don’t want her to think about it, and I’m very careful to never talk like that. I focus on health instead of looks. (Outwardly, I mean. Obviously I wish my mind would shut up, but at least I can fake it, right?) I’ll stalk the comments. Hopefully someone has an idea of how to handle this.
I don’t have kids and feel like I could never ever give a mother advice about anything, but I have been down the ED rabbit hole too. I think it’s so awesome that you are being conscious about this! All of my friends who are moms are also super conscious about this which I think is a great sign for the next generation! You ladies are awesome and doing important work!
Yes! I feel the same, I don’t have kids either, but I so respect the fact that so many of you are so aware of the importance of raising your children so well! I work with college students, and work so hard with them to help them learn to love their body as it is and see their beauty has nothing to do with a number on the scale, but so much is engrained by then. You all are doing such important work! So impressed by of all of you!
Meagan @ My Life as Mrs
I don’t haveven kids yet, but what you’re saying is exactly how I feel about the future. I’m trying to get as healthy as I can now to give my kids the best chance at a healthy life and to be the best example for them growing. I’ve had my fair share of dissatisfaction with my body over the years, but it’s another thing I’m working on improving. VeggieTales says it best: God made you special and he loves you very much. (So we should love ourselves!)
Sally @ sweat out the small stuff
My boyfriend has two girls 11 and 13. One is a gymnast and always in leotards and the other swims and is in swimsuits all the time. I’m so impressed with their comfort level and confidence and they actually inspire me when I’m around them to be less critical about my body issue image stuff. They have a mom who is so positive in this respect and I commend her for that. They have been involved with the Girls on the Run program and Girls Scouts too. I hope they continue this path. The 13 year old will sometimes be critical of pimples on her face. I try and tell her to embrace her right of passage as a teen. She is so beautiful even a pimple couldn’t change that. It’s a tough subject. I try to be honest with the girls about my struggles and insecurities being overweight as a kid. I let them know that I missed out on fun times because of those insecurities. I wouldn’t go to water parks etc. and now they take me to water parks. I think it’s helpful for them to hear how they can miss out on good stuff if they are preoccupied with self image stuff. We really can learn so much from the youth!!!
I don’t have children but when I do this is most definitely something I want to encourage!! I know growing up we were always made to eat everything on our plate and they now say that you shouldn’t recommend that as it leads to over eating & a feeling that you can’t leave anything on the plate which often leads the child to be bigger than if they were allowed to stop eating when they were full. It’s a difficult one though and I know it’s something that my mum struggled with.
Eating everything on my plate was a massive thing for me growing up which didn’t help my self image – I ended up with an eating disorder for 4 years. However, my mental state is now a lot better – I know that my weight does not make me a better person or will make my life any different. I exercise and eat to feel confident and I still allow myself treats.
I think our education should be better – children should be educated on the importance of a balanced diet, the health benefits and how you can get the most out of your diet. We didn’t have anything like that when I grew up.
The best part of my weekend was my 19 mile run – the furthest I have EVER ran. My hip and back ached after 16 miles but I was so so proud of myself for finishing it – only another 7 miles to find! Plus I had the best burger afterwards which made is all worth wile :)
This post is so beautifully written and such an important topic to bring up. Now that I am getting to the age/stage in my relationship where we are thinking about having kids within the next couple years, I think about these things a lot. Like you, I grew up with an amazing supportive mother (and father!), but I still ended up struggling with an eating disorder for about 4 years. How can I avoid this with my future daughter? It’s really heartbreaking to think about, because we understand how easy it is to happen. I still don’t have the best self-esteem myself, so this is something that really worries me. However, I think you are doing an absolutely great job with Brooke and your nieces and all the other young girls in your life, not only through leading by example, but in how you treat them, too.
On a completely different note, those pickled beets look terrible. I think beets are my worst food in the whole world. I can’t stand them! The best part of my weekend was getting to have my whole family all in one place with two of my sisters home from college for the weekend.
Our daughter will be 9 tomorrow and I am very sensitive to this topic as well. Like you Janae, I struggled w/disordered eating and poor body image while in my teens and early 20s and I am doing everything I can to not let my daughter go down that same path.. I emphasize physical activity and feeling healthy and strong in your body over appearance,and don’t demonize any one type of food. We also try to emphasize being involved in a sport (winter is skiing and late summer/fall is soccer) . Not only does that give you confidence about what your body is capable of but it also expands her set of friends that are into other activities vs just classmates that she spends the majority of her time with during the school year. I also NEVER make disparaging comments about my own body no matter how down I am feeling about myself on any given day. Luckily, our girl isn’t self conscious right now in the slightest and fingers crossed that it stays that way for a while longer.
17 miles on Saturday and I’m at the halfway point in training for Big Sur.
Ellen @ Tale of tow runs
Loved you article! I dont have kids but I would have the same worries! I wrote this a while back and it pretty much sums up my opinion :) https://taleoftworuns.com/2017/02/08/clean-eating-can-we-just-talk-about-it-for-a-minute/
I don’t have any kids myself BUT I listened to a podcast the other day that talked exactly about this subject- how to talk about food and our bodies around kids (girls in general), especially if you suffered from an eating disorder. It was Lindsey Hein’s podcast with Jody Whipple and Megan Marshall, and I think you would find it really helpful!
Love this post! SO helpful!
I think a lot of self-esteem starts with the question “where do I look for my self worth” and “what does it mean to live a full life”. I grew up surrounded by a lot of people who struggled with addiction+abuse, so learning to shut off my mind and live a “numb” life was a survival tactic. That led to me not knowing how to feel simple things like “joy” or “pain” or anything of the like- it was just constant fear. But, that led me to go on a road of addictive habits, everything from eating disorder to exercise addiction to alcoholism. Teaching kids that numbing is not survival, is definitely something I wish I had learned earlier.
I think having a healthy-emotional relationship is one of the keys to having positive body image. Learning lessons like “balance” and “openness” and “resilience”, plus learning HEALTHY coping mechanisms is so helpful, as it has helped me in my journey. I know, one of the first things I taught my girls basketball team is “playable actions” or just another word for a coping mechanism. I explained that no matter what happens on the court/with your body (10-14 is SUCH a tricky time for female athletes, as many of us feel like our bodies start to betray us)/in life, you have control over how you cope. Crack your jaw, think of your cat, shake out your arms- just do SOMETHING active and small to pull you back to a resilient and confident place. (for me, I imagine the starfish from Aquamarine saying nice things to me…I am a child).
I hope you have a lovely day and Brooke is SO lucky to have a mom that is thoughtful and cares so much. You are doing great.
It is such a hard topic. My daughter is 10.5. I have 80 lbs to lose (but I didn’t have a weight issue until I was in my 30s and met my husband). Everyone has told me that I am not allowed to talk about losing weight in front of her, which I try not to. I stress eating healthy. I was deprived of foods as a child and I was good at moderation when I was on my own and in other relationships, but when my husband would bring trigger foods into the house (and this started as soon as we started dating 15 years ago) my will-power dissolved and I gained a ton of weight (and then throw in having 2 kids). I always said I wanted my kids to be exposed to unhealthy foods and learn self-control. But lately my daughter has been having issues with that and so I have chosen to eliminate some foods from the house, which breaks me heart. But I’ve also had a lot of conversations with her about all body-types. Even when I was at a normal weight, I always had an athletic build, which I liked (and men did too! :)) – but growing up we didn’t obsess about flat stomachs and thigh gaps. But I have made it very clear to my daughter that she will never look like XYZ kid in her class because they have different body types and she seems okay with that at this point. It is a constant conversation and difficult to navigate sometimes.
This post rings so true. I don’t have a daughter (yet) but I still think about this all the time. I have always wondered WHY I developed an eating disorder and what I can do to prevent my future daughter from developing disordered thoughts around food and their body. I teach middle school right now and I already hear them talking about diets, carbs and needing to loose weight. This mentality is so ingrained in our society. Brooke is lucky to have someone who is consciously trying to set a good example :) Thanks for your thoughts on this Janae!
Great post! As the mother of a little girl I definitely have toned way down the way I talk about myself, first in front of her and I am getting better about it (I hope) in day to day life when she isn’t around). Last night I made us salmon and veggies for dinner then went out for custard, so I teach her balance and it’s ok to have a small treat. :)
She also sees my treadmill and tries running on it, at 19 month old! It is super cute. lol
With a history of an eating and exercise disorder myself, I relate so well to this. I have 4 kids, 2 of which are girls, and early on I decided to never comment on my size or negative feelings about my body around them. We discuss healthy eating and exercise, always with the goal to be “healthy and strong”. Those are our buzz words, never “big and strong” because some girls might not like to hear they are going to get big. Not “skinny and healthy” because those words sometimes don’t go together either and I don’t want being skinny to be a goal. But “heathy and strong” so we can do whatever we choose to do with our body…whether that is play a sport or just jump on the trampoline. The better we fuel our bodies and exercise them, then our bodies will be ready to do whatever we ask them to do for us. I never talk about being thin or anything. When I did briefly try a counting macros eating plan where I was measuring and tracking my food, I told them (truthfully) that I wanted my muscles to be stronger so I was counting how much protein I got so my muscles had enough fuel to grow.
Love this post. I have struggled with my self image for as long as I can remember. My parents divorced when I was very young and I remember my mom always judging me. Making fun of my weight or comparing me to herself and how she was so much thinner. I hate to say that it took having my own girls to realize that I can’t let others influence how I feel about myself and that I need to love my body always, because I don’t want them to every doubt there worth or worry about people judging them. It’s a struggle but I try to not to talk about myself negatively and always say that we do certain things, like exercise, drink water and eat our fruits and veggies because our body like it :)
Kaci @ Kaci K. RD2Be
Such a great post. I don’t have children yet but this is something I’ve already decided is important. They don’t need to hear what I think is wrong with me because I don’t want them to start thinking about what is wrong with them. I remember in high school when I helped teach dance lessons overhearing the 3rd & 4th grade girls talking about what diets they were on. It broke my heart.
I think that if someone is predisposed to have an eating disorder, there is nothing you do or don’t do that will make a difference. You said you grew up with a mother who didn’t talk negatively about her body image. And yet you say you still developed some sort of eating disorder. I don’t think body image has much (anything?) to do with eating disorders at all. (and I have personal experience). Eating disorders, imo, are all about control and needing to gain control of a situation. So I think that parents should stop worrying or obsessing over trying to influence their daughters/children in a certain way. It could be that you are 100% perfect in fostering this great atmosphere. And then the kid goes off to school/hears a teacher, coach, friend say ONE thing. And that is what sets it off. I mean, it’s a great thought and all that you have that you want to present a good atmosphere. I just think that obsessing or creating this bubble for a kid is not going to benefit them. It seems like a lot of work and over-analyzing for something that really may not have much difference. Create a loving and supportive atmosphere, don’t obsess if a friend says something “negative”, and go on with life.
I agree with this comment to a certain extent. We should definitely do everything we can to cultivate a healthy self image in our children, and avoid negative body talk. But there are other factors at work as well. Just like some people are predisposed to alcoholism, others are predisposed to issues with food. And there are control issues, OCD… it’s a complicated subject.
I agree with this also. Obviously it’s important to role model a healthy body image for your child. But I, like Janae, came from a loving family with a great mom and dad who never said negative things about their own bodies or about my weight, and I developed a severe eating disorder. Statistically speaking, a huge number of girls with eating disorders come from upper middle class loving, often over protective, families, where there is a high expectation for achievement in life (whether in school, sports, moral behavior, etc). Something goes awry where the person with the eating disorder finds that food and weight is something they can exert control over (often they have OCD tendencies and develop special food preferences or ideals or rituals) and feel like they are successful (or they become depressed at not being able to control their food or weight perfectly enough)
So, what can a mother do? NOT be loving and protective and have high standards?! (Obviously that’s not going to work!). I just think that you can do everything right as a mother and still have a daughter develop an eating disorder. There is a probably some genetic predisposition to it (it does run in families) and then various things happen in life that tip the person over the edge into developing the eating disorder. And you can’t always control those things.
I think showing your girls their lives don’t revolve around their bodies should be such a huge priority. No one should feel as though their self worth is based on body type or image. Beautiful Post Janae.
My mother taught me exercise at an early age and I’m grateful for it. On the other hand, my mother is anorexic and has been pretty much on an off throughout her adult life. (she’s 68 to put this in perspective. Part of it for her is control and it is one of her OCD manifestations, so there is a lot more going on there). There were so many strange rules around food when I was growing up. I was obese for a while and right now I’m currently at the higher end of my weight. I don’t beat myself up. I know the foods that support me and are healthy so I can drop the weight; but it took me a long time to learn it. (which is why I became a health coach, to help others learn to eat sanely in a way that supports their bodies and lifestyle). I will not bash my body, even though there are days I’m not happy with how it looks. I don’t weigh myself obsessively and usually go by the fit of my clothing.
I absolutely believe children watch and learn, by what we do as well as what we say and don’t say.
A friend of mine never weighs herself in front of her kids. She has a scale in her closet but doesn’t want to pass along negative feelings to them. She runs races and encourages them to be healthy and active. No negative body bashing there either.
I had a shrimp burger yesterday and it was amazing.
I love this!!! it’s so important.
Fantastic post!! This is always hard as women because we are the most negative on ourselves, but with Social Media in our faces and everywhere we look now a days it’s becoming even harder. I am 30 so I was on the cusp of Social Media and it really started in college with Facebook and has now blown up with Instagram, Snapchat, etc. but I truly cannot imagine how elementary, middle school, and high schoolers can deal with Social Media like this. Everyone looks perfect, everyone has the perfect lives, and everyone is happy all the time….so it seems.
I think it’s so important to be a role model for the younger generations and it’s our chance to show we are strong and do not let outside factors control how we think or how we feel about ourselves or our bodies. I have up and down days (don’t we all), but I should never let my feelings be determined by what someone else thinks of me and I love that you are starting that so early with Brooke and Knox.
You are an inspiration always I love when you talk about the hard things because you never know who might be out there struggling with similar or the same things! You’re amazing and an amazing Mom!! :)
This post could not have come at a better time! I’m bookmarking this one to return to later. I have a lot to work on in this area, but I’ve made improvements. If anything serves as the ultimate motivation to have a healthier outlook and lifestyle it’s my child who turned ten months yesterday and will be impressionable before we know it.
Check out Lindsey Hein’s podcast “I’ll Have Another” – her latest episode discussed this exact topic and included some good book recommendations as well. I found it very insightful, even though I don’t have kids yet. Definitely worth a listen!
I can really relate to this post!
I have been having this discussion with friends a lot lately… about where i developed these unhealthy thoughts about myself that serve no one. I also grew up with a mom who ate intuitively, never commented on her appearance, but still I ended up with such low self esteem regarding my looks.
Our society, unfortunately, is always telling us that we have to look better and improve ourselves. Being thin, being beautiful, becomes a privilege in our society. When really, on our list of priorities it should be pretty far down the list, what about being kind, helpful, smart, funny etc. When people think about our greatest influencers in the world, no one thinks about their appearance or how much they weighed. They remember what they did for the world.
Anyway, I just want to say I whole heartedly agree with this and it also makes me so sad. I also have to remember that when I say anything negative about myself, I am, in effect, also criticizing others. And that I don’t want to look back on my life regretting all the time I spent on my appearance and wandering if I am enough. Every day I pray to God to do his will and I know this is not it <3
Here is a quote that I love!!
“i want to apologize to all the women i have called beautiful
before i’ve called them intelligent or brave
i am sorry i made it sound as though
something as simple as what you’re born with
is all you have to be proud of
when you have broken mountains with your wit
from now on i will say things like
you are resilient, or you are extraordinary
not because i don’t think you’re beautiful
but because i need you to know
you are more than that”
― Rupi Kaur
Love that poem. Thank you for sharing!
I 100% agree that we need to think more about how we impact children. The smallest comment about appearance can stick for YEARS! I don’t have children yet but I think it’s so important to push exercise NOT as a way to lose weight but to gain strength and keep the body healthy. And equally important to brand healthy eating as delicious and fun rather than something you “have” to do to be “skinny”. I think reframing exercise and eating and not making negative comments on any body of any size is so so so important!
I went to a seminar a few years ago and what I took away from that has really stuck out. The speaker was talking about addictions in general and said that almost all addictions come back to the individual not being able to deal with being uncomfortable. When I looked back on my life, specifically my teenage years, I felt the truth in that. That has definitely been something I’ve been working on with my kids. When a hard situation comes up, we try to take the time and identify the feelings and come up with good healthy strategies for when we feel uncomfortable, and learning just to sit with being uncomfortable. Anyway, I feel your pain and wanting to pass on good habits to kiddos!
Christina @ montessoriishmom.com
This is something I feel SO passionately about, I was just talking to my sister about this exact topic last weekend. (I also just posted something related last week: http://montessoriishmom.com/2017/02/22/dont-be-such-a-dory-dory-positive-self-talk/ ).
I agree with everything you said, I think the most important thing is avoiding negative comments about yourself in front of your kids AND making sure to say positive things about yourself in front of them (which can sound weird / cheesy at least to me, but I’m trying to do it anyway!) People always talk about the influence of the media, which I’m sure has an impact, but I think the number one thing that impacted my view of my body / food when I was younger was hearing women talk about calories and diets. Good for you for asking those ladies to stop talking about that with Brooke nearby!
This hits REALLY close to home. We recently moved to a new state and enrolled our toddler in a new daycare. I was a little upset they wouldn’t allow me to pack her lunch (they provide food at the school) but it was the only place we could get in on such short notice and, otherwise, I thought it was fine. She often would get upset on drop offs, because she’s not even 2 years old, and I started noticing they would offer her things like chips–at 7 am–to calm her down. This escalated quickly, and soon the teachers were joking in the morning about how they were giving her treats to distract her or make her happy. I’m a little on the extreme side when it comes to organic/healthy food, but I can be flexible (especially because I want to be a good example to her and not have her be scared of treats) and these were things I would NEVER feed my child. On top of that, at such a young age, she was starting to associate food with happiness. It took a lot of convincing my husband, and it’s not the best financial decision, but we pulled her out and got a nanny until we can get her into a different daycare. I will not have teachers (who, ftr, were all VERY overweight and unhealthy–and I’m not using that lightly) teaching my daughter that she needs to find comfort in food at 2 years old. We’re in a tough spot these days as moms, but I think it’s worth it to protect our children from everything you said above (negative body talk, exercising just to burn calories) and also from people who can hurt their perception. Long post! Happy Monday!
This is a topic that has been coming up for me a lot too. My daughter just turned 3 and picks up on and copies so much of what I do. I love hearing her talk about wanting to run and be strong like mama but I would be crushed to hear her talk about her body the way I often talk about mine. I’m torn between wanting to be open about my struggles and shielding her from them. I think there is some value in her learning that we sometimes have negative thoughts about ourselves that are not true and showing her healthy ways to manage and overcome those thoughts. I certainly don’t want to put those thoughts in her head but I would be naive to think that she won’t ever look at her body and wish it were different – even though I can see that she is perfect! It is a tough job raising these babies!
I grew up with my Mom having an eating disorder. She had a lot of weird habits around food, and was constantly either criticizing how much I ate or alternatively, telling me I wasn’t eating enough and forcing me to eat more. It varied from day to day depending on her mood, and just made no sense…but that’s the nature of the disease. It really tore me up for a while and left me with an unstable relationship with food in general. But, eventually I got to a better place with it. I finally figured out that what she feels about her food intake and body image doesn’t have to apply to my life. It only took me 15 years to learn it, but now I can listen to all the diet talk and self-deprecation (from her or anyone) and it doesn’t hurt me or make me feel any less about myself anymore. I hope that everyone is able to reach that point sometime in their life. Thanks for the great post, and I wish you all the best in raising your own daughter. It sounds like she has a wonderful mom as a role model :)
Such a good post. I don’t have kids, but I would hope I can be like this in regards to a healthy body image when I do. I struggle off and on about my appearance in the mirror and may never love my rear, however I can run farther and without injuries than I could when I weighed 5-10 pounds less……..so if my butt is a bit bigger then I know it might have something to do with the donuts, but it is most likely muscle because I run! And my husband always says I look hot, so he makes me feel great!
This is taper week for me…………..I have a half marathon on Sunday, so today (my birthday!!!!!!!!!!!) is a 5 or 6 miler, then I have just 2 or 3 other easy runs before the race! Getting excited!!
Thank you for sharing this post. As someone who struggled with anorexia from 14-23, I’ve found this is such a multi-layered issue, there is no clear cut path to avoid or heal from it. My ED started as a coping mechanism with grief after my mom and grandfather died, it was something to control and I could replace the knots in my stomach with hunger. As I worked through that, it became an obsession on how I looked and continued to be a crutch during times of stress or negativity. I think definitely not discussing weight or food as a “diet” is helpful because it eliminates the thought even crossing your mind. But, for me, focusing on how to be happy and establish appropriate coping mechanisms was key. That is not an overnight solution, but when I finally chose to be happier and therapy helped me with coping strategies, I have not once gone back to the “not eating” solution when stressed or in a bad place.
If those thoughts or comparisons are already occurring (it can be hard to control when your daughters/sisters/wives have friends exhibiting these behaviors), hearing unsolicited compliments that had nothing to do with my weight was always surprising and meaningful to me. I often hear from random people how much they love my laugh and smile, that has brought me so much more joy than historically meeting a number on the scale.
From a realistic sense, if the comparison game is already in full swing, there are small ways to start bringing yourself back to some better thinking (I want to stress, ultimately you shouldn’t do this at all, but what has helped me incrementally in the past). It helps to see those examples of women of all different shapes that are the same size, it can be illuminating! In terms of body type, if you’re pear shaped, find a pear shaped women who looks fabulous rather than trying to morph into someone with no hips. There are stunning people in all shapes/sizes. Think about it, if you’re looking for hairstyle inspiration, I don’t know about you, but I tend to look for celebrities on Pinterest with the same face shape, similar coloring/eyes.
This can be a lonely experience, so many people are impacted by this type of thinking. Focus on lifting others up and you’ll find yourself being lifted along with them.
I’m not a mom. I’m in my senior year of college and I see so many of my friends pick themselves apart based on their appearance and it kills me. I think everyone struggles with their body image as teenagers (because how could you not, with your hormones wreaking havoc with your body and mind?) but I saw my mom eat healthy and exercise ever since I can remember. I knew that food was something to be enjoyed and exercise wasn’t a punishment for enjoying it. Whenever one of my friends talk about themselves with words like “pudgy” and “muffin top” my heart breaks and I fire up into full on group-mom mode. Because they are intelligent, funny, caring people who are working hard right now. I want them to recognize that their bodies count for so much less than their souls and minds.
Like I said, I’m not a mom but I had a mom who showed me how to love myself and take care of myself. She taught me to love running and exercising for the feeling that comes afterwards. She taught me to eat vegetables and then enjoy chocolate because it’s one of life’s best treasures. That’s the sort of thing a good example teaches daughters.
Pickled Beets = amazing!
This topic is one that is near and dear to me as well- after healing from my eating disorder and continued struggle with body image issues, one thing that became very important was being mindful of what I was teaching children/young adults in my actions. I told myself that before I had kids, I would have mastered the healthy mindset/promoting health over self conscious/harmful attitudes towards our bodies.
BUT the reality is I am pregnant now, and those issues I thought would just magically disappear due to a greater purpose are still lingering. Even as I’m gaining weight in a healthy manner, it’s still alarming when my pants won’t button or I blow out a pair of leggings, or my hips turn out and get wider. The healthy part of me knows these are all good and normal things and I’m glad my body knows what it needs to do- the unhealthy part is mildly horrified.
So this post is really staying on top of me to work on the mental part of things. Fortunately I already have a healthy diet and exercise regularly, and hope to incorporate this active lifestyle with my future family. Things I’ve done to get rid of the negative image issues are not having a scale, not making negative comments like “not like I need this…” when eating ANYTHING, unsubscribing from most magazines like Cosmo, and even limiting time on social media (my joke is that my social media binges at times become ‘comparathons’).
Thanks again for this post and the reminder!
I’ve been trying to figure out these very questions in relation to my two daughters. I’m someone who never really struggled with body images issues at a teenager and young adult. Having three back to back pregnancies has caused some major weight fluctuations for me and for the first time in my life I’ve found myself having really negative self talk and I’ve come to see how many women for whom this is a struggle for all the time! I consider myself extremely fortunate for making through the tumultuous years of teenager and young adulthood without that being a problem. Especially considering I have a mom who is constantly on a diet or trying the next fad. So, what was the difference between my experience and someone else’s? The one thing I keep coming back to is sports. I played very competitive soccer all growing up. I saw my body as a vehicle for doing something I loved – playing sports. I viewed my body in terms of how it could perform on the field, how fast I could run, how strong I was to kick a long ball, etc. It’s not that I didn’t have frustrations with my body, but they were usually things I could control – I’m not fast enough? Better put it some more work at practice – instead of looks-based things.
I recently found the website Beauty Redefined, and I LOVE it. The things the post on instagram are GOLD! I highly recommend it to anyone who wants help readjusting how they view their body. It’s all research based and resonates so strongly with me!
Marissa @ Run Riss Run
Negative self talk is not allowed in my home. We talk about being strong and having stamina to do fun things (like hiking and walking around Disneyland all day). We talk about feeling good and what helps us do that.
My mom never dieted while I was growing up. She really focused on balance and simple exercise (like parking far from the entrance). She never ever commented on my body, which may sound weird, but I think that even positive comments can be used in the wrong way (like motivation to get skinnier etc.).
Best part of my weekend was finishing top 25 in a half (even though my stomach was gnarly!) and dinner with the family last night. My brother and cousin drove about 2 hours to come and have dinner with us and it was super great to see them! The homemade pizookies weren’t bad either ;)
I love this post so much! I have the same stresses all the time. I have a little girl that will be 4 in April and a little girl that just turned 1. I constantly wonder how to raise them to have self worth and to think independently. We are outside playing all the time and I think that is a great way to start them loving to exercise and gain confidence – our older one has already been on skis, she rides horses and she loves racing/running outside. Thank you for the suggestions!
I was in the same place as you were 6 years ago. And I’m thankful my daughter was young during that time. I stopped talking about my body and weight, size, muscle tone & food abundance or lack around 2012. My only daughter is now 11 & I’m really thankful I stopped the obsessive behaviors & the talk of it. I now teach thru example. I exercise (run, lift weights, walk) 6 days a week. I drink only water (soda once a week when we go out to eat). I talk to them as I prepare food about what the healthiest ones are and why, what they do for our bodies etc. We do eat treats too! Life is to be enjoyed :-) I do believe in moderation in all things. It’s a phrase so over said, but rings so true and will stand as ‘reason’ until the end of time. We don’t talk about being fat or thin in our house at all. My husband is so good to help facilitate it all. He gives compliments to me and her, and teaches thru his own example as well.
I have 2 daughters, 17 and 20. There are many things I’d do differently if given the chance, but the saving grace has maintaining a fully open, honest, trusting and safe relationship–not a friendship exactly but we have lots of conversations about health vs looks. I think most girls will struggle somewhat sometime, but being able to talk about it without shame or judgment and to talk about ways to handle both what they feel about themselves (the good AND the bad) and what society tells them to look like can make a huge difference overall.
Oh, and I don’t have any weight scales in my house. Ever. :)
I don’t have kids but I agree on the fact that giving the right example to your children is super important. It is true that you can’t protect your kids from everything, but you can teach them how to be confident enough to not let themselves get affected by any kind of mean comment.
My Mom taught me that anyone who came to tell me something that could affect my self-esteem was just envious and that I should not fall into that “trap” ever. She repeated that to me so many times, that nowadays whenever somebody tells me something that could affect my self-esteem I literally believe that there’s a problem with that person and not me.
My parents talked very positive to me all the time, which has really helped me to build my self-confidence. All of this are things that I’m passing to my children for sure.
Very well written! I think setting a good example for kids is important and building there self esteem on things other than there looks is key! My mother suffers from an eating disorder and watching her through the years and her relationship with food was hard. She was always honest about it, didn’t try and hide her struggles from me so I was aware some of the behaviors she had around food were not normal and good. I thought this was a better approach than hiding it or trying to cover it up.
I love this. I don’t have kids but have struggled with eating and body image issues for years. I mostly grew up with just my mom who cooked healthy meals and never talked about herself in a negative way. When my dad got remarried, he and my stepmom were obsessed with dieting and that was my first exposure to it, around age 10, and even though I only saw them every other weekend, it made a huge impact. I remember the first time I noticed my thighs.
After years of struggling, I’m finally in a good place and exercise + eat to honor my body. But i do think back to how much of an influence parents can be – it’s also interesting to think if I’d always just been with my mom would any of the issues have ever come up? Maybe, maybe not. Thanks for this post!
Julia @ Drops of Jules
I’ve thought about this a lot, especially recently as I’m coming closer to marriage and starting a family. For a long while, I was terrified at the thought of having daughter, for fear of impressing onto her disordered thoughts and behaviors. That said, when I think about my own eating disorder, it was no *one* thing that contributed to my eating disorder. There is no one and nothing to blame. Additionally, I think you and I and anyone else who has suffered from an eating disorder is at an advantage when it comes to raising girls because we are MUCH more mindful of certain behaviors, actions, phrases to stay clear of when raising a daughter. I have faith that you and I are both going to be (and already are!) great moms.
My sweet Janae <3 I look at it this way: we all have weaknesses and your weakness may or may not be the same as Brooke's. There is nothing we can do to make our kids not have weaknesses, and I think it helps to know that they aren't perfect, so we don't ever have the expectation that they are. Expecting our kids to never be weak would be too much pressure for anyone to take. We can let them know it's okay to be imperfect and that it is okay to make mistakes. If Brooke has the same weaknesses as you, then she will have someone to go to, someone who can help her through it. I think being healthy, happy, and kind is the best way we can show our girls (and boys) what it means to be beautiful. Our example is more powerful than any words we speak. Help her see that true happiness comes through service and love. You are an amazing momma! Love you!!
Thanks for sharing. We don’t have kids but I do have an toddler niece who I hope stays as fearless and strong as she is now. I have walked the road of ED in college – and now, I love my body for what it can do. Running marathons has changed my perspective. Knowing my legs can carry me 50 miles has instilled tremendous confidence in my abilities. For me, knowing what my body can do means I am less obsessed with what I look like . Helping girls find a love of sport or any sort of physical activity, be it dance, or running, or climbing, hiking is huge. If you can build a life long love of sport or participating in any sort of physical activity, it will do wonders for self esteem and self image. Clubs and programs that make sport accessible to children .teens regardless of their background or ability to pay are instrumental. If kids and girls have good role models, they will follow suit.
This weekend, I went trail running with my crew and my body still aches now, but so happy I went – training is on for the races I signed up for.
I have thought about this subject so much. The last thing I would want for my girls is to hate their own body! I have made a lot of goals, even before I got pregnant, of never speaking poorly of my body in front of my kids. Have I been perfect? No. But I can honestly say it has only happened a couple of times. HOWEVER, like you said, I don’t HAVE to say anything. Kids can tell how you feel about yourself, even if you don’t say anything negative. I need to actually be the example. If I want my kids to love themselves and their bodies, how can I teach them the way if I don’t know and exemplify it myself?
When I start to get down on myself, I think of all the amazing things my bodies DOES. Focusing on how our bodies are here and why they are here and what they are meant to do helps snap me out of it. Our bodies are not ornaments to be adored or perfected. We are not objects. Our bodies are instruments! We take care of our instruments so they last a long time and so we can play them well, but instruments do not good if we never use them for their purpose. We don’t just stare at a piano.
Thank you for always being a good example to me on this subject. I never hear you say a negative thing about your body and you are such a good mom in this regard and many other ways. Having friends who encourage this to be a priority and show me how it is done is so important.
LOVE this post! Although without kids, I teach high school and coach, so have heard too many negative comments from my girls about their own bodies that make me want to cry. My approach has been to highlight all that they have been blessed to be able to do with their bodies – run, play, be a part of a team…! Turning the conversation from, “I want to be thin” to, “I want to be STRONG” has helped in these encounters. The biggest thing, like you said, is modeling. Talking with them about my training and eating healthy, balanced lunches with them are ways that I’m (imperfectly) trying to be a role model. I have struggled with body image before and never want them to doubt their worth as daughters of God.
I have always struggled with my weight but never been able to break the habit of bad eating. I have learned with time that I have to have balance in my life otherwise I go crazy. Eat the good and the bad, I am not a good dieter. I have few “good weeks” then my will power breaks and I have something “bad” and I start to get down on myself. For better or worse I have always compared myself to others and wonder why I can’t just look/feel comfortable in my own skin.
I have been especially aware of this since the birth of my daughter, and have tried to correct the behavior and learn that I need to be internally motivated to make myself happy. This is what I’m trying to teach my daughter and my son. Whether it is a win or loss, a misstep or an accomplishment, you have to internally want that change for yourself and be proud of who you are. Eating habits, weight and looks don’t define them, but a kind heart, empathy and compassion do. Finding what makes you happy is the best solvent for almost any problem.
I completely understand what you are saying and thought you did well relaying your thoughts to all of us. Growing up, my mom never had a woman or her own mom teach her that she was worthy. It is a vicious cycle that had repeated itself for multiple generations. Because of it, she always taught me that I was worthy and that God created me and built up my self esteem. However, she didn’t believe it for herself and I could see that. When I discovered I was pregnant with my first daughter and after giving birth noticed my reflection in the mirror. I didn’t voice my thoughts but it didn’t matter, I still criticized the reflection I saw in the mirror. It was at that moment that I realized I had to break the cycle and that I never wanted my daughters to feel less than worthy or even think it. It starts with me. So anytime I had a negative thought creep in my head I would snap a rubber band that I wore on my wrist. I never vocalized my thoughts but it didn’t matter. I needed to end it. The rubber band trick has helped and I still wear a hair tie out of habbit and necessity but I snap it if anything negative pops in my head. I have tried building their confidence not by appearance, although I will comment every once in awhile, but I point out the attributes and characteristics that make them beautiful. They see me care for my body nutritionally and physically but I will never make a judgement/opinion out loud regarding someone’s appearance or what they eat. I hope I am teaching them to focus more on taking care of our bodies because they are a temple of the Holy Spirit and to focus on characteristics of people because it is a reflection of their heart.
Good thoughts today! I grew up with three sisters. All of us have very different body types and each of us have struggled in our own ways with food. Thankfully, my dad, was amazing with daughters. He taught us at such a young age that our worth wasn’t wrapped up in physical beauty. He did tell us often that we were beautiful, sent us all flowers on our birthdays and Valentine’s Day (starting when we were in elementary school. He would compliment our abilities, strengths, and encourage us to keep trying in the things that were difficult. Yet, I too, struggled with self image, worth, and an eating disorder.
Something I want to instill in my two daughters is food is fuel (I am an emotional eater), it nourishes us, gives us energy, and can taste really yummy! However, it’s not a true source of comfort. I personally believe God will fill the holes in our hearts if we allow Him. Practically, I tell my daughters they are beautiful because they are made in the image of God. He loves them and cherishes them even though we are imperfect. We focus on the things my dad did and compliment much more than physical appearance. And we PRAY PRAY PRAY!
Blessings to you!
You should listen to “I’ll have another” podcast with Lindsey Hein. They talked about this topic this week of eating disorders and how to talk to children about healthy eating! The people she interviewed were from the fly movement.
Sadly this isn’t just a girl issue. My 12 year old boy is naturally thin, and he HATES being called skinny. I have to remind adults and even some of my own family members not to bring his weight up, because it is such an issue with him. I think in general we could all watch our tone in conversations and be more sensitive to each other:)
What a wonderful post, Janae! I do not have kids yet but having struggled with an eating disorder all through HS and college and a little afterwards its something that I will try with all my heart not to happen to my kids. My brother and I both struggled with an eating disorder, my poor parents and its not very common to hear about eating disorders in boys. But we learned a lot from it all. I am like you, I am not sure what caused it all. My mom and dad were always so supportive of eating healthy but incorporating treats, my mom never once talked negatively about her body so I always felt bad for my eating disorder because I know she took it very hard, like she & my dad did something wrong with raising us. But looking back I never once blamed them for it. I am so thankful I came to a point to love my body. I love to exercise and truly eat healthy. I do it because I know now how good it is for the body to fill it with healthy foods and I truly understand how beautiful I feel after a great sweat!!!
Keep up the great work!!! XOXO
If you haven’t already, you should read Chrissie Welligton’s memoir about Ironman, called A Life Without Limits. She is an impressive lady, from her career in politics & development, to her love of sports and turning pro and winning Kona. I’ve read a couple of your last posts, and this book will talk a little about body image and eating disorders, and her crazy sports career, I think you will love it.
I love pickled beets! Guessing that is the one from Costco! My husband thinks they are the most disgusting thing on the planet. ;)
I loved this post. I think it’s so important to portray a healthy body image to kids. I have a master’s degree and nutrition and learned how parents with strict food rules are more likely to develop eating disorders. That’s why I think it’s important to allow kids some flexibility to make their own food choices but encourage healthy eating and always provide healthy options to them.
I could write a book on this subject! I’ll keep this short though and really recommend that anyone interested in this read ‘Cinderella Ate My daughter’ by Peggy Orenstein. Its not exactly on the subject if eating disorders but it gives tons of information about the perfectionist culture we, and especially girls, live in. Really, please read it! And lets all continue to be supportive of one another and our daughters as we navigate this thing called parenting! :)
i love this post, janae! i don’t have children yet, but i think constantly about how i represent myself to my niece, to kids i know, and even to women my own age. i read the other day about a family who teaches their kid to talk about “i love my mama, i love my dada, i love myself.” what is commonly seen as narcissism (being in love with yourself) is really just an acceptance of who you are! i thought that was beautiful. another idea i loved is saying positive affirmations each morning or evening (“i am strong, i am kind, i am smart” etc). all the best. you’re such a good mama.
I think all of your thoughts here are so great. I teach preschool/early elementary and one of the things I read once was not to compliment young girls on their appearance. Sometimes it seems like an easy way to get to know a kid, but I try really hard to not talk to girls about their “pretty shoes” or their hair. Instead, I try to think of anything else I can talk about! School, toys, siblings, pets, whatever…as long as it’s not their appearance. I like that you are also striving to do this with the young girls in your life.
I love all your insight on teaching kids to exercise and eat right as a way to respect and treat their bodies right! Negative self talk always feels like it is setting a bad example, but I think it should be talked about. I want my daughter to know it’s o.k. to have days where she’s not happy with her body, because I think we need to teach them healthy ways to cope with those feelings and also use those feelings as motivation to nourish their bodies with healthy food and exercise, because that is what will make them feel better! Parenting can be so hard, always wondering if I’m handling things the “right”way, but like my Mom always says (and the Bible too), “everything you do , do with love,” and you can never go wrong.
I’ve thought about this so much. I have 2 sons, one 3 and the other will be 2 months tomorrow. I want them to love themselves but also want to teach them to treat girls in the right way as well. I have no advice whatsoever but am learning too!
I have been meaning to ask, would you be able to share at all how you and Andrew do your lessons on kindness, gratitude, etc with your children? Do you just make them up on your own or do you have any resources to share? Would really like to start doing this with our 3 year old.
I developed an eating disorder at 11. I think some of the things that laid the foundation for my low self esteem were my perfectionistic nature and moving countries, then getting bullied at my new school. I don’t know if I would have choosen to try and fix this through dieting if I hadn’t had a Mum who was weight conscious / dieting (even though she never said she was ‘on a diet’. I watched her around food and saw she was), criticised her appearance and also really emphasised eating ‘healthily’. We were allowed treats but only on specific occasions (2 small sweets on a Friday night, takeaways on someone’s birthday and sugary cereal on Christmas Day). I think this made it very easy for me to fall into hating my body (I actually thought I had to in order to be a woman) and attempting to limit / control my food. I definitely recommend not putting to much of an emphasis on ‘healthy’ / ‘unhealthy’ foods, not being overly restrictive around when Brooke can eat ‘unhealthy’ food and not restricting your own food / critising your own body. I know you are doing a lot of this already and I am sure the steps you are taking will be an awesome safe guard for Brooke. My Mum didn’t get this quite right with me but she had the very best intentions and did the best she could. She is an amazing Mum and loves me unconditionally so this is in no way meant to be a reflection on her parenting skills. My parents are my best friends and biggest supporters. I love them so so much and am so grateful to have them in my life. I think if they were to raise me knowing what they do now though, they would treat food a bit differently. I am lucky to have been able to learn from them though and hopefully my children will benefit from the lessons they have taught me (in so many ways).
Having our daughters so close together, this has definitely been on my mind as well. My daughter has never and will never hear me talk negatively about my body, food, etc. They are like little sponges at this age and I really want to set good examples from early on.
Krista @ Gringita
This is an excellent topic!! I always try to compliment girls on non-physical traits as well! As well as non-gender-conforming when possible, if that makes sense. I didn’t form a health relationship until like last year after recovering from an eating disorder… so idk ! haha. There were definitely a few people in my life when it all started that were not good influences as far as eating, weight, appearance, and what is actually healthy.
I got to experience my first real Carnival yesterday and it was so much fun!
Thanks for sharing. I have found in my own life that the relentless drive for perfection can spill over into my eating and working out. I think part of it unfortunately comes from Christian culture (at least the kind I was exposed to), which encourages women to always be kind, and to serve and help others. These things are good! But, sometimes they get taken to an extreme, and I think that extreme of doing more, better, led me to feel like there wasn’t much I could “own,” or did because I wanted to. Now I have rethought things (thanks therapy), and do physical activity that makes me feel good. I also do things in church (and at my job) that reflect my gifts. I am immensely happier, and I think that I do better at reflecting what I think is the good/light in everyone best when I can find it in myself.
One thing I read about once was how we compliment boys differently than girls. To boys we say, “you’re so strong!”, “you’re so tough!”, etc. and to girls we say “you’re so cute!”, “what a pretty dress!”, etc. So, for my friends with little girls, I make a point to tell them they’re brave, and smart, and tough, and kind, and funny…and beautiful of course. And I try to do the same thing for my friends with little boys…because they are also all of the above.
I think that if we remind little girls that they are so many things other than “pretty,” then we encourage them to see that the way they look is only a smidgen of who they are a as person.
I don’t have kids, but this is something I will continue to do when I do have them.
Thank you for your brutal honesty. I have been sitting with your comments, and the comments of many others from this post. I keep thinking about my daughter and her uncanny ability to read the adults in her life, to read what was below the surface, what we intended to keep to ourselves. I wonder if, by hiding our insecurities, or thinking we hide them, we potentially do more damage. Why can’t we talk about the confusion that results from wanting to like what we see in the mirror and the social messages that inundate women on a daily basis? Why can’t we talk about choosing to love ourselves, flaws and all? If we can’t do it, how can we expect our daughters to? I hope I have succeeded in raising my daughter with the true conviction that above all I want her to love the person who looks back at her in the mirror, flaws and all. After working with women for many years, and doing some personal work of my own, I have found most women struggle to love who they see looking back at them. My daughter and I continue to spend time talking about self-love coming from within, and that there are some amazingly strong women (physically and otherwise) who don’t meet social expectations of what “a woman should look like”. Men do not define what an amazing woman is, we do. Every woman I know is amazing and looks nothing like the magazine cover ideals society says are “optimal”.
This is hard stuff and got me thinking. I think it’s easier not to talk about weight if you are a healthy weight. I’m overweight. I had an athletic build/size 4 til age 40. I’m a size 8-10 now and a good 10-15 lbs over the healthy weight for my height. I don’t like it. I think it’s because I just cannot exercise the long hours I used to and I do eat in reaction to stress at times. I do tell my little boy that I want to lose weight. I do this because I want him to know that there is a healthy weight for your body. I tell him you cannot eat too much or too little food – your body doesn’t like that. I tell him that as I get older it’s harder because it is. I tend to tell it like it is. But you got me thinking about how I can modify – thanks!
While I don’t have children, I manage about 80 young adults and this topic comes up a lot. One thing I’ve noticed is that young (and old) adults want to be able to talk about their concerns yet so often we push things aside. I’ve tried to listen and ask questions. Sometimes understanding their own fears helps them to overcome the mindset and see that we all have fears and concerns. Being willing to listen fosters an honest and open dialogue more often in my opinion. While we can’t always protect from everything, we can be the one they come to if they need to.
The one thing I notice in your blog is that you truly love to run – for running sake. I think this shared passion is a great way to show your kids that getting outside and enjoying active activities is the best way to be who we are and love what we are able to do.
Hi! Great post, it’s so good to hear you thinking about this and giving your opinions! I can agree that setting a positive image means a lot – I’m not a mom yet but your post made me think about the negative influences I had while growing up. I had an older sister who was always very thin and beautiful and I definitely looked up to her. I can remember not ever feeling ‘okay’ to eat more cookies than she did (weird, I know), and just following her example in everything. And there was just so much focus all around me with girls from school, tv, etc, that I don’t think it strange I did develop an eating disorder later in my life, because even back then, at age 11 or maybe even younger, the idea had already been ingrained in me that to be thin was to be good! So I just want to say it’s great that so many of you want to make a positive change with regards to body image and that I do think it helps, a lot! If no one ever gives you the idea that your weight has to be a certain number, or that being thin is better than being less thin, then I guess a lot less girls would even worry about it, right?
Thanks for this nice post, you’re really an inspiration!
My mom is a rockstar single parent, and was the same as my brother and I were growing up. She worked her butt off every single day to make sure we were happy and healthy and had the best opportunities. The ONE thing I wish she hadn’t done was criticize her own appearance around us. For one thing, she is beautiful. And another, I know it directly affected how I thought about my own body growing up. I couldn’t stand to look at myself in the mirror or in pictures through my teen years, which looking back was quite sad. But I’ve worked hard to undo a lot of that reflexive thinking in my mid and later 20s.
It sounds like you have a great handle on raising your daughter. Thank you for the great post!
My parents were constantly on me about my weight growing up. Nagging me and having me try diets all sorts of things. I never really let it bother me though. I knew they were just trying to make sure I was healthy and happy. Later on, as an adult, I spoke with a therapist and she was very surprised with all that my parents did I didn’t end up with a disorder. I know have two children of my own, and I am very aware of what I say to them about eating and exercising. I try very hard to make everything fun and positive. I try to make sure that my husband and the grandparents don’t say anything that would have them think negatively about their bodies either.
My family is a wonderful and loving support system for me, but mental health challenges do not discriminate and so we’ve all had our struggles, specifically related to disordered eating, anxiety, and depression. I didn’t run into those demons properly until my late teens/early 20s and still struggle with them every day.
I think one of the things that made a huge impact on me growing up, was that my family – whether well intentioned or not – sheltered us from our own issues. No one talked about anxiety, no one talked about eating disorders, no one talked about depression. My mother still suffers from anxiety and refuses to acknowledge it even in herself, which is really difficult for my siblings and I to watch.
I don’t think there is a fool proof way to keep the bad things out, but by talking about them and giving them names and reinforcing that its not “bad” or “weak” to struggle is so important. If you want to provide someone with the tools to face mental illness head on, acknowledging it and your agency in dealing with it is so powerful.
Thank you for talking about real things. I’ve been reading for 4 or 5 years now and I really appreciate everything you do!
I feel like I had/have a very good relationship with food my parents did a good job of explaining nutrients and how important food is so we have energy to run and play and work. They also made it clear that sweets were not evil or bad but also to be eaten far less frequency. I did have (still do sometimes) some struggles with body images, some from watching my mom struggle with weight and her confidence (mostly watching facial expressions and body language) and also things other people said to me. I think it is important for kids to understand that when other people say mean things it usually comes from them being insecure and they need love and prayers even if they hurt us. You also have a lot of knowledge and personal experience that would probably help a kid to understand that a person only gets one body and it’should important to take care of it. But I think you are doing a fantastic job and are a wonderful mom! You can see it in the joy on Brooke’s face.
Thanks for sharing Janae – this is such an emotive topic for so many of us and for so many different reasons! Before I ramble on at you with my thoughts / experiences, can I raise my hand for a position in your worry company?! I am pretty sure I’d be a model overthinking employee ;-)
For years my weight and my feelings about my body were linked to others. Things first went awry when I got together with a boy who was terrified we would break up and so slowly but surely began (this is the only way I can describe it!) feeding me. It wasn’t until my best friend pointed out what was happening that I realized this feeding was his way of keeping control and ironically, became the reason we did break up. For a few years all was well, I lost the weight over time just by eating well and exercising in moderation, and a few years later met a boy on holiday who I ended up moving country (leaving friends and family) to be with. At the time I was very slim and felt good about myself. Over time, ever so softly, ever so slowly, he made me believe that I was disgusting, hugely fat and terribly unattractive. Looking back it’s so easy to see the red flags and think ‘how did I ever let that happen?!’ but at the time, isolated from your own friends and committed to making the relationship work, it was easy to believe him when he told me terrible things about myself but always added ‘I am just trying to help you because this is how other people see you too but I’m the only one who loves you enough to be honest with you.’ For the longest time I was grateful that he ‘put up’ with me and my body! When we broke up and I gained a little clarity I realized just how messed up the whole thing had been, but it took a while for me to mentally ‘break free’ of that belief system that I was genuinely disgusting and other people just didn’t want to make me feel bad. During those crazy years I yo-yo-d from super thin to normal weight so many times, but even at super thin felt so awful for being ‘too big to deserve love’. I had food intolerances and terrible mental health. I also developed an underactive thyroid which requires daily medication and which my Doctor told me probably comes from too many years of food and weight restriction and control.
I was single for a few years and did some major mental health work with myself, learning to love my body and learning to separate my self-worth from my weight / appearance. It took me years to let someone else ‘in’ but my fiancé has been so awesome about the whole thing and is great at reassuring me and supporting me to be the weight / body type etc. that I want to be. I told him about my experiences fairly early on and he really took it on board and handles the whole subject with a lot of patience and love. I am currently pregnant and this has thrown up some old anxieties about being ‘disgusting’, even though I am so excited to be having a baby. So it is definitely an ongoing dialogue and journey for me. Right now I am the heaviest I have ever been but in a much better place mentally than I used to be 40 pounds ago!! For me it’s not about the food. It’s about the internal dialogue around food and weight and eating.
I want my babies to love their bodies because they are marvels of engineering and can carry them through life (literally) and because they are vessels for experiencing the magic of the world (climbing its rocks and trees, swimming its lakes). I want them to appreciate the value of their limbs and organs whilst knowing that if one day an illness or an accident changes their appearance or their functionality, who they are as a person does not dwell in that shell. If their legs don’t work or their stomach is floppy they are not less valuable! I don’t mind them hearing about the struggle sometimes because it’s a part of life and inner dialogue and I don’t want them to think they’re odd if they have these worries. I believe it’s important to grow up seeing your parents take care of themselves physically and mentally, and this is one of the things you do which I admire! Not just with running and good food but also getting your lashes done, getting new clothes, going on date nights… all of which subconsciously teach your kids that it’s normal and good and important to take care of yourself!
I believe you can only do your best, day in, day out, and that will be good enough. Keep doing what you’re doing Janae! Looks pretty awesome from the outside ;-) Hugs xx
I’m just catching up on your blog from the weekend and I love this post!! It is a great reminder to lead by example and make sure our children/daughters know to love the body they’re given. There is a quote I love and helps me remember to do this:
“In the end, I am the only one who can give my child a happy mother who loves life.” -Janene Wolsey Baadsgaard
My goal, like your own, is to make sure I never utter a single negative word about my body or myself. Which of course doesn’t mean I won’t think it from time to time, but I want her to grow up with a healthy body image and good self-esteem. Thanks for sharing and I hope your family life is okay and you’re all doing the best you can to be happy and healthy together! Much love!