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She’s Watching Me: Talking About Weight Loss Affects Our Children

“I lost fifteen pounds already.” Says the girl who’s only four… and my daughter.

I wanted to puke.

For the past couple of months I have been exercising every day and eating healthy. I want to be healthy… or so I thought.

Hearing my daughter say she “lost fifteen pounds” made me question my motives. Are the changes I’ve made about living a healthy lifestyle or are they about appearances?

I realized that I’ve been lying to myself, lying to others and lying to my daughter. However, the bright little monkey that she is, she saw through my tricks and smokescreens and called me out on it… my objective has been weight loss.

Living in the age of blogs, media and an abundance of social networking sites adds a subtle pressure to one’s self-worth. I regularly see Facebook status updates, blog posts and twitter feeds that put the pressure on to lose weight and look good.

For example:

  • “Yay, I fit in my pre-pregnancy clothes again.”
  • “Not only did I lose my pre-pregnancy weight but this is the lowest weight I’ve been in over 10 years!”
  • “No more fat panties for me… LOL.”
  • “I’m one of the lucky ones. No stretchmarks!”

Nothing is necessarily wrong with these statements. It’s me, the interpreter of these statements that has lost direction and been led astray. I can’t compare myself to someone else’s Facebook or Twitter feed. That’s their journey and their direction.

I don’t like to look at myself in front of a full length mirror. The anxiety from doing so is compounded when I’m stripped down to my underwear. I have stretchmarks galore and my belly which once housed children, on two separate occasions, kind of looks like an ass (sorry about the language but I have no other way to describe it). That’s my body. That is what I see every single day. That’s me… or is it?

When I gave birth to my daughter, I knew immediately that she was a beautiful gift from God and I also knew that’s the way I wanted her to see herself. So why do I desire that for her but I can’t do it for myself?

“I lost fifteen pounds already….”

“You don’t need to lose fifteen pounds. You’re a little girl… you need to grow.”

What else could I say? I know she really didn’t lose 15 pounds but I quickly realized that I can’t talk myself out of this one. My actions need to speak louder than words.

Starting today my language is changing, but more importantly, my attitude is changing. It’s not going to be about pounds and inches… it’s going to be about a healthy lifestyle which includes exercise. It’s not going to be about calorie counting, it’s going to be about making healthy choices and enjoying a chocolate bar and a glass of wine every once and a while. It’s not going to be about the clothes I would love to wear or sporting a bikini this summer, it’s going to be about a positive sense of self-worth, and a desire to live a long and fulfilling life.

She’s watching me… and I have no doubt that how I proceed will have a lifelong impact on her.Jennifer-The-Deliberate-Mom-Signature


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Jennifer Bly
Jennifer Bly
Author of My Kitchen, My Classroom: An Introduction to Homeschool, creator of The Deliberate Mom, Deliberate Homeschooling and regular contributor to The Huffington Post. Jennifer writes about parenting, her faith, and life with her husband and two girls. Jennifer has a Bachelor of Applied Human Service Administration Degree with a specialization in Early Learning in Child Care. 

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10 thoughts on “She’s Watching Me: Talking About Weight Loss Affects Our Children

  • One Practical Woman

    A few years back I watched a show on Oprah about moms and daughters and self body image. I’ll never forget when the mom kept saying ‘I don’t know why she wants to lose weight and get implants, I always tell her she’s perfect the way she is’. The doctor turned to the daughter and asked if her mom liked her own body and the daughter said no. She said ‘mom won’t even been seen without makeup and always talks about how she wishes she could change her body’.

    That really shocked me and made me watch what I say and how I behave around J. When she asks questions or makes comments about looks I try to stress that everyone looks different and that’s a good thing. I also try to stress that what’s most important is being a nice person. Let’s hope that if we all start doing this…it will sink in!

  • Pigeon's Mom

    *sigh* i’ve been “on a diet” since at least the fourth grade. my momhas a;ways been on a diet as far as i can remember. sometimes she put me on these diets, but i don’t blame her because i asked her to. the thing is is i did need to be in better shape, but it was always about appearance. in my twenties i finally lost weight in a rational way that was healthy and felt good. i looked better, true, but i felt amazing–strong, fit, quick, energized. i felt more confident and was in turn more friendly and generous with myself to others. now that i am struggling with lingering pregnancy weight, i long for mostly that feeling–but can;t deny i’d still like to look better! it’s a hard balance to find but it is a shame when young girls already feel the pressure!!! best wishes on changing the attitudes :o) it’s a step in the right direction!

  • Alisha

    i am glad she helped set you on the path that will be better for you and in the long run her.

    i try daily to love myself. it is a tough battle some days but i am learning to embrace my body…..the days i am sucessful at that are the days life is easy and stress free. i regret that when i look back on old photos i can remember the period in time and thinking i was fat….crazy how we end up with such warped thinking.

    i have always really tried to never show the girls those feelings because i don’t want them to ever be 18, 5’10 and 130lbs. and think they are fat….never.

    kudos to you on making great life style changes and no longer focusing on numbers.

  • Kat

    Good for you! It’s an easy trap to fall into. It’s amazing what sticks in our minds from childhood and how it shapes our adulthood. My Dad usued to make comments to me like ” Your getting a little chubby, better lay off the junk” and such…I still hear it in my head when I look in the mirror sometimes. I want to make sure my own daughter is always confident and secure no matter what she looks like,how much she weighs or the clothes she wears. Thanks for the reminder that I must love me the way I want her to love herself.

  • Sofia's Ideas

    I love this! One thing that I can count on when I come here is that you are going to be honest. I love that you revisited your own mindset because of this moment with your daughter. Children certainly learn what they live which is why I can’t stand the whole “do as I say and not as I do”. We all have those aha moments, but we don’t all react and respond with positive change. You did. Bravo!

    I am all about “reclaiming my awesome” this year, and I have made it a point to share everything I am doing with my children. I want them to see that you can “fall off”, and its normal and forgivable, and that you can just as easily jump back in! I also love that they help me during moments of weakness and encourage me to hold myself accountable.

    One thing I can say though, is that reading this made me think… I am careful about what I say to them, but I should be just as mindful about what I say around them.

  • Gaye Christmus

    These are great thoughts – thanks for sharing them with the Let’s Get Real party. I really want to keep the focus on health and fitness, but I know that my own motives are often to lose weight or look a certain way. I don’t have daughters, but I want my sons to keep the right focus too.

  • Karen

    I’ve been here. Since I inherited a large frame (I’m 5’9″ and large-boned), I don’t remember a time in my life that I have not felt “too big”. I remember the first time the thought occurred to me that I was “fat”. I was just a child and I don’t think I have ever not thought that since then. As a teen, all my friends were petite and cute, and I always felt big and fat comparing myself to them. Now, after delivering 9 babies, I still feel fat – although I am not above my “ideal weight” , and have been focused for over 4 years on getting/staying slim. During the process though, I realized that my daughter was also picking up the language that I did not want her to be saddled with. I still struggle with it in my mind, but deep down I know that it is best to be “healthy” than to worry about being “slim”. And, that is the message I want to send to her, and to instill in her.
    Maybe there are a few women who don’t have issue with any of this. But, I think they are rare. It’s an “image” world we live in, and even the most grounded women are bombard with it. Thanks for sharing honestly. Thanks for reminding what really matters most.

    • Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom Post author

      I am definitely more mindful of the messages I directly and indirectly send to my children. You’re right in saying that it’s an image world that we live in. That’s why I think it’s all the more important to ensure my children are not getting these messages of “image matters” confirmed and pushed by me as well.