If I am the person in the room with the most positive and healthy body image in the room then it is a problem. The entire room is dysfunctional and instead of doing what we are doing, then we should probably all go trot down to a health center and get some therapy. Or at least that is my first thought.
But then I realize that isn’t quite true. I have come to realize that it is rare to find a woman with an extremely healthy body image. Rare. Not winning the lotto rare, but pretty darn close to that. Which is a shame. If I stop to think about it, I have a fairly healthy body image, it’s just that I have to work on it every day. Every day. But I also have to shower every day so I won’t stink, I work every day to be a better mother, a better wife, I work on my relationship with Christ every day, and I try to write every day to develop my skill.
I work every day on the things that are important. One of the big things that helps me keep my body image healthy is going to work out. I like to do it. It makes me strong, healthy and happy. Once I work out, my brain settles down and it actually stops me from obsessing about looks. I check the box taking care of it and then I move on to other things. That’s why I like working out in the morning. I do it. It’s done.
I don’t work out because I’m obsessing. I work out so I can STOP obsessing. When I ‘diet’ I can’t ever stop assessing what I’m looking like. When I work out and eat healthy, I am proud of what I see in the mirror. I break free from the Tyranny of Skinniness.
(I know exactly why I have these issues and obsessions, I just don’t share them lightly. Or in print.)
Food is a different matter. I associate food with love. I always have. When I’m sad I want to eat, when I’m upset I want to eat, when I’m happy I want to eat and when I go out with people I want us all to eat together. I like to eat. I like everything about it.
I still associate food with love and therein lies a big problem. I love my children and I want to feed them. I want to feed them all the time. When they are sad, upset, happy and on family outings.
Teaching my children to make healthy choices is a lot harder than teaching myself. When I deny them a hostess cupcake in their lunch, I feel like I’m denying them love. It doesn’t matter that I know better. It doesn’t matter because that is the emotion that is pitted deep into my soul. When I deny them food, I am denying them love.
A few days ago I took a step back and took a good look at what was happening. I have been making healthy meals for a long time now. Grilled salmon and steamed broccoli is a regular meal on my weekly rotation. They love it. They ask for it. However, healthy meals surrounded by a massive amount of unhealthy snacks isn’t doing anyone any good.
My love is driving my children down a path that leads to a lifetime of struggle and health issues.
Yesterday I threw out the junk in my pantry. Just the junk. I didn’t go crazy. I’m still going to make the meals they’ve been enjoying. I threw out the junk but I replaced it with enough snack size bags of fruits and vegetables that it filled up the entire bottom portion of my refrigerator. No one is going to go hungry.
It took me all day to prepare the snacks in an exciting way that could be presented as fun. I bought the fruit and veggies I knew they liked. I called my pediatrician to verify the portions I was seeing online were correct for my specific children. I agonized over the discussion about eating food to fuel their bodies and brains in a way they could relate to and see in a positive way. I was careful to make sure I stressed that no food was bad but we needed to make sure we had our ‘fuel’ first. I have a fun chart to make sure we are all getting enough water each day.
Healthy and Strong. Healthy and Strong. Healthy and Strong are the only words I ever want uttered in their presence.
I had such a big emotional build up and they didn’t even pause. Barely even blinked. The only verification they wanted was to make sure we were still having cake next week for Lily’s birthday. Lainey asked for more cucumbers and Lily asked for more raspberries for the options in the fridge. That was it.
Meanwhile, I feel like someone kicked me in the gut. I feel like I’ve just told them I don’t love them as much today as I loved them yesterday. I feel like I’ve pulled a dirty, rotten, low down scummy trick on them.
Like I said, I have to work on this every day. Every. Day.