I visited my mom recently.
I love my mom and want to be a daughter who honors, encourages, helps, and is loving toward her mother. There are lots of great things about my mom.
I am fat because of my own lifestyle.
But my mom's attitude toward weight does not seem healthy to me. My mom has definitely bought into American society's idea of the correct female body - extremely thin. I can remember when I was in fifth grade and I overheard my mom talking with the school librarian (this lady went to my mom's church so she knew her outside of the school) about me. My mom was saying that she just didn't know what she was doing wrong and why I was so chunky. It was at that moment that I took on the self description of being fat, overweight, not good enough. The weird thing is that when I look back at pictures of myself at that age I was not at all overweight, I looked totally normal. Plus, kids in grade school teased some kids unmercifully about being fat, but never me - because I looked similar to all the other kids.
I got to thinking about this because my mom was talking about my 15 yr old niece when I was visiting. My niece and sister live with my mom. My mom was saying how my niece's stomach is just too big and she's going to have start eating healthy and exercising more. From what I've seen my niece could use to eat healthier, and she does have a rather active lifestyle (she's into swimming and water polo and is one of those teens who always wants to be out doing things with others). She is absolutely not over weight looking, in fact she's rather tiny. The issue in my mom's mind is that my niece's stomach is not totally flat. My concern, which I've tried to explain to my mother, is that my niece is already at that oh-so-self-concious-and-unhappy-with-her-looks-and-body stage in life as it is, and she needs positive input. She doesn't need to get into her mind that she's "too fat". She needs input to help her love herself and her body, and to take good care of herself. If they want her to eat healthier, they will just need to work a bit harder to find healthy foods that she likes and not have junk food around the house. I really believe strongly that they shouldn't say things to her about her stomach being "so big". But, I know this sounds negative, but my family is kind of crazy making when it comes to food and weight, so of course they ignored my input.
My mom also managed to mention while I was visiting that she was looking through old pictures recently and saw one of me. She said that the picture was from when I was involved with "that group that met up at the base of the mountains" and that she almost didn't recognize me. She emphasized how different I looked and how she couldn't get over how small I used to be. My question is why did she say this? Was she just talking and not thinking? Was she trying to motivate me to lose weight?
The background on the picture was that several years ago, when I had a 7 yr old, 2 1/2 yr old, and 1 year old son, my then husband was ignoring me. He'd apparently lost sexual interest in me (I later found out that it was because he'd been having an affair with another woman). So I got involved with this weight loss group for about 8 months that met at the base of some mountains near our home at the time. The group made you commit to NEVER ever eat candy or sweets, they told you that if you wanted to be healthy you must say good bye forever to such things. They also made you promise that if you ever slipped/cheated/wavered from their diet that you would confess to the group and leave the program. The program was extremely restricted with regard to food. During the first 4 months of that program I did lose the 50lbs that I needed to lose at that time and kept it off for the next 4 months. Then I "slipped" = ate something with refined sugar and had to take myself out of the program. Which, honestly, by that time I'd had enough of. Over the next 3 years I gained all of that weight back plus 10 more pounds. In the 15 years since then I've dieted off and on and lost back some of that weight only to, following the diet, gain back all that I'd lost plus gain back a few more pounds. So that now, 15 years later, I carry those 50 pounds plus ANOTHER 50 pounds.
Currently I am NOT dieting. But I am seeking to constantly be increasing healthy habits. Things like making sure I am involved in physical activities that I enjoy several times each week, not eating after dinner, drinking plenty of water every day, getting 7 (or more if I'm ever so lucky) hours of sleep each night, including more fresh fruits and veggies in our family foods. Eating for sustenance, health, and pleasure, but not to stuff down feelings. My emphasis at this point in my life is on self acceptance, respect, and love and an increasingly healthy lifestyle.