As the mother of a little girl, I have many fears. I worry that she will get sick. I worry that someone will hurt her. When I watch Intervention as she sleeps cuddled in my arms, I often sob as I watch parents plead with their children, begging them to get help. I fear that could be my daughter someday. Sometimes, I even whisper to her as she sleeps, "Mommy will always protect you." But, I know I can't, so instead, I worry.
I think I fear, in particular, that she will experience pains that I have experienced. With the glory of genetics comes the fear that she will inherit something that I have struggled with. I become concerned that she will be depressed some day, or suicidal, or anxious. I fear that she will spend a chunk of her life not valuing herself or having confidence. I worry that she will feel fat and obsess over food.
This last worry is one that I sometimes feel she will face no matter how hard I try. Every day, I see body issues all over the place. Women at the gym complaining about their shape, celebrities on the news starving themselves to get thin, new diets, new weight loss shows-- our culture is saturated with it.
Although I don't want Amelia to be obsessed with her body size and shape, I do want her to have a good understanding of what she should do to be healthy. We don't let her drink juice or have many goodies. I give her fruit with every meal and call it her 'dessert'. I don't eat fast food, and therefore, she doesn't either. I hope that giving her a good foundation of what is healthy will help her make good nutritious choices when she is older. When I head to the gym, I hope that her seeing her mommy be active on a consistent basis teaches her that moving your body is GOOD for your body.
Am I naive enough to believe that these things alone will protect Amelia from overeating, making poor food choices, or feeling like she is fat? NO. But, what else is a mom to do?
I mean, other than having a good body image herself.
Feeding Amelia healthy foods and hauling her to the gym with me is relatively easy. At my highest weight ever, positive body image is rough. I swore when I found out we were having a little girl, I would not utter the words "I'm fat" in her presence. I'm still pulling that off as I hide in our bedroom and complain to my husband as I pinch my belly and my hips. "LOOK at this!!! How can you even be attracted to me anymore?!?" as Amelia is in the living room watching cartoons. Each time I utter these words, I can see his disappointment that I do not believe I am as beautiful as he sees me.
Really, I don't think I'm ugly. I've developed a lot of confidence with age. I'm raising a happy, healthy daughter, I have a successful career, a good marriage, a terrific family. I'm intelligent, strong, and determined. All that being said, I'm not happy with how I feel. My pants are tight, I don't have as much energy as I used to when I work out, and my food choices are not all that great. I've been attempting to make better choices since the first week of January, and though I'm eating healthier and exercising more, the scale is not budging, nor are my pants getting looser. It's frustrating.
And yet, each day I wake up with new hope. I think with age has come more clarity about why I want to lose weight. It's not because I want to be super thin and it's not because I think more people will accept me if I'm a few sizes smaller. It's because I want to be healthier and feel better, and most importantly, I want Amelia to have a mom who takes care of herself for all the right reasons.
In a few weeks I will be a guest writer for the Random Blogette. A group of us have joined together on Facebook to support each other's efforts to be healthier. There I will explain my own personal struggles to fight my food demons and be healthy. And, in April I will be running my first half marathon, come hell or high water. My goal is to just finish the darned thing, even if I have to finish it walking. Not just for me, but for my daughter.