It's no secret in my family that I've gained a noticeable amount of weight over the last few years. My former days of svelte are gone, and I am now the oh-so-round and comfortable owner of more than one pair of granny panties and a respectable collection of elastic waist pants and skirts--all sized a very ambiguous 2, on a scale of 1 to 3. Even so, I'm well aware that nothing short of a mumu is going to hide this sneetch-like belly of mine.
I've debated on how to handle this new super-sized me with my kids. Do I pretend I'm skinny like I used to be and call a moratorium on my burgeoning waistline? Do I go on and on about healthy eating and exercise and let them watch me work out like crazy to try to turn back the clock? Or do I pretend it doesn't matter at all and go ahead and live in my pajamas while ordering another round of yummy chocolate covered cream-filled cupcakes?
After a year of traveling in countries where a nice round belly is a sign of well-being and good-fortune, I decided my first move would be radical self-acceptance, no matter what the scale says. I am not twenty-five anymore, and my days of being able to skip lunch and watch my muffin top disappear are long over. I am a forty-something, middle-aged mom with a metabolism to match. This body of mine, which is showing signs of wear and tear--and yes, maybe one too many bowls of guacamole before dinner--has carried me through enormous changes, life-altering experiences and essential acts of love and/or domestic monotony. When I die, this old girl is coming with me, and if I won't love this dear body now, when do you imagine would be a more appropriate time? When I'm fifty and even more fluffy? Or when I'm sixty and by some miracle have mastered the art of moderation?
I have decided there is no better time than right now.
To symbolize my commitment to honor my body (and to not give youthful perfection unnecessary airplay in my mind), I dubbed my middle "The Chubby" and vehemently defended her whenever my kids started to play rough enough where someone nearby (i.e. me) could get hurt. Hey, guys! Watch out for The Chubby! I called out one day without really thinking during a serious roughhousing. Both kids immediately laughed and loved it that I was being both protective and playful.
From that day forward, The Chubby became a regular point of conversation between us, and I was shocked to see how lovingly both kids regarded The Chubby in the face of my newfound lack of shame in her very round presence.
I began to see that this glaring imperfection of mine was actually an avenue for my kids to embrace me as a soft, available, accessible, comforting presence. It feels good to hug someone who is a little more wobbly around the middle, and my kids could finally say so without worrying about hurting my feelings. I think they liked no longer having to pretend I wasn't a little bit fat, especially now that they could see I wasn't embarrassed that there was more of me to hold.
These days I really am paying attention to my well-being and my general health. I'm walking everyday and eating more bowlfuls of kale than candy and making sure that every meal is full of choices that will give me wholesome, natural energy. I've lost a little weight, but I'm pretty sure at my age and with my particular body type that The Chubby will always be with me, no matter what.
"Don't worry," I tell Carter when he begins to panic that all this good eating will be the disappearance of The Chubby. "Some signs of imperfection are also signs of comfort and they are meant to always stay." This I say as he folds himself happily into a deliciously round, warm hug.
What do you think? Can you celebrate The Chubby at your house or do you think that sends the wrong message to kids about the importance of fitness and health? What do you think about separating the idea of how much you weigh from your body image? You can be honest. I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
*picture above shot by tracey clark, catching my better side, depending on how you look at it.
I start to feel it every Spring. It is the excitement of growth in the air and knowing something fresh is in store for us. Our bodies perking up for the nutritional bounty about to become available and marking the end of relying on less worthy substitutes.
Every where I go people seem to be talking about it. It's all about local, organic, green , sustainable farms and healthy living. The local farmers markets are buzzing, old CSA friends are popping up, home gardeners are scrubbing dirty fingernails. Moms at the playground are holding Michael Pollan church sessions in the sandbox, while the First Lady takes on childhood obesity.
I find I usually have two reactions on the subject. I'm either totally inspired or feel completely guilty. Inspired to make changes, inspired to see so many innovative ideas on how to live better and smarter, inspired to work harder or contribute. Then of course, is the guilt, guilty about how much take out and processed foods travel through my house, guilty I can't afford to buy as much organic food as I would like to, guilty my family isn't more active. Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed and wish there wasn't so much I needed to work on and obstacles to overcome.
How can I afford to buy local organic produce?
How can I shift my life to exercise more?
Why is faster and cheaper usually not very good for you?
I end up trying to be radical or just giving up all together.
After a few chance meetings with friends and experts on the topic this week, I'm wondering if there might be a third option. What is the family food revelation of the week/month/year? Can I get a drum roll please?
I've decided maybe small changes mixed with some doses of grace, increasing over time might just be the way to healthier living. Shocking right?
So this weekend we will use the money from the skipped take out dinner to eat in and use saved money to buy a few more things off the organic list. We can head out to the farmer's market for breakfast and pick up some funky produce we wouldn't normally try. Right before the sun is getting ready to set, maybe we can bike to our favorite ice cream joint instead of drive.
Next week I might just find myself busy and a total mess, falling off the very small step I just stepped on. I don't know the magic solution but I bet trying is a good start.
Check out our Healthy Kids section to take your own baby steps.
How do you go about incorporating good nutrition and exercise in your family life? What are the biggest obstacles? What a your greatest tips for triumph? Tell us in the comments.
We are getting closer and closer to our Great Day of Gratitude on May 5th! Now that the gratitude train is going, what a great opportunity to explore being grateful with our kids in other areas of our lives. Here are a few things we are trying on at the moment to learn more at our house.
The Gratitude Growl and Howl What is the one thing you are going a little crazy for these days? It's easy to be thankful for the things that make us really happy or even just stuff we enjoy. Go around the circle and give a growl, a howl and then state what you are grateful for. Being silly as a parent sometimes unlocks the joy inside and invites kids to share (or laugh at you). We are grateful growling for wildflowers, berries, Pokemon cards, the computer and puppy dogs at our house.
The Manners Police Start young, before kids can even talk with please and thank you. Introducing the practice and gentle reminders send us back to the value we want to honor and instill. This helps us learn to be intentional in our thanks.
The Gratitude Tree Head out for a nature walk to search for a medium size branch with lots of tiny branches. Buy a simple clay or ceramic pot you can decorate or paint together. Use plaster of Paris or marbles/rocks to hold your "tree" in place. Every season decorate your tree with the things you are currently grateful for written on tiny paper leaves. In the winter, you can hang ornaments or colored balls with the words written on instead. Just like the seasons, life is cyclical, the leaves are bursting and other times the tree is bare. This is a good activity to mix creativity and revive the focus every now and then.
Quiet Thanks Doing acts that express gratitude anonymously can help kids discover that we can express our gratitude without the need for a return. Leaving flowers on doorsteps or writing a notes and hiding them for those we are thankful for to find can be really fun and kind of sneaky. Some children might prefer this way of being grateful.
Leaving Space for Need Usually when we have a hard time being grateful it is because we are in need of something ourselves. Kids (and parents) might need the space to express needs and invite help or empathy which in turn produces a new and different kind of gratitude.
What ways do you celebrate gratitude at your house? What has or hasn't worked for your family? Do share in the comments.
He crawled into bed with me this morning because he had only seen me for five minutes here and there all weekend.
K: Good morning, Ethan. I missed you. How was your weekend?
Ethan: Great, Mom. Dad bought us crackers with sugar on them.
K: Technically that is high fructose sugar but I saw them. Did you like them?
Ethan: (sighing) It was so great, Mom.
K: I know. What else did you do?
Ethan: Mom. We did what you said when you called. We didn't burn the house or even have to get stitches.
K: That was great, Buddy. Thanks so much for doing that for me. Did you brush your teeth yesterday before you went to bed since you had those crackers?
Ethan: NO, Mom. I don't like to brush my teeth.
Derek does the bath/books/bed every night but the teeth brushing seems to elude him and I don't know why. I mean, every single night as the kids are playing in the bath, he flosses and brushes his teeth while he is in the bathroom with them. How complicated is it to lean over into the tub and scrub, scrub, scrub the teeth that they have? If you are brushing your own teeth, why not the teeth of the three children less than three feet away from you? I don't even expect you to use a different tooth brush.
I was fascinated when I saw Kate Gosselin in her kitchen with the 8 tooth brushes lined up on the counter (and don't try to tell me you never watched the show). She made some remark about how she knew people were going to mock her for brushing her children's teeth but at least she knew her kids had clean teeth. Personally I chose to mock her for using 8 different tooth brushes (you could probably get away with 3 or 4 and just throw them out every 6 weeks) and for brushing the teeth in the kitchen. There are a lot of things I will do in my kitchen but brushing my teeth or the teeth of the ones I love is not on that list.
Fast forward to the Highly Public Dental Checkup and Cleaning Episode and hygienist after hygienist "oooh"-ing and "aaah"-ing over the excellent condition of every child's mouth. Looks like you had the last laugh, Kate. Well played.
So now, I too brush my children's teeth. At night I trudge up the stairs and load up tooth brush after tooth brush with toothpaste. I lean past my husband and brush, brush, brush. But what about the spitting, you ask? Let's be honest. Two out of three children swallow the toothpaste so there are no worries there. Third? Here's my hand. Nasty, yes. Effective, yes. No toothpaste on the pajamas after, YES!!! When I am away? Crusty teeth. But back to the conversation.
K: Ethan, if you don't brush your teeth, you will get cavities.
Ethan: I know, Mom. But it's okay. I have TWO sets of teeth. These ones with cavities will just fall out and then I can get new ones. And if you get cavities, you just go to the dentist and get them fixed anyway.
I blame DORA, who in her infinite childish wisdom in attempting to keep kids from fearing the dentist in her going to the dentist book, successfully convinced children everywhere that getting cavities is FUN and when you get one fixed, you get a sticker. It's not the first time Dora has annoyed me and it won't be the last.
K: Ethan, if you don't learn to take care of your teeth now, your second set of teeth might fall out too and there are no more teeth after that.
Ethan: How about fake teeth? Wait. If my teeth fall out, then I can get FAKE TEETH??? I can get fake teeth. I CAN'T BELIEVE I CAN GET FAKE TEETH!!!
Along the way, something just got lost in the conversation and there was no way to get it back. I guess brushing your teeth is just something you have to do because the consequences angle is clearly missed by some kids. Or maybe it's just mine?