Have you seen my mom?
This picture is from 2008, but my mom pretty much looks the same. I, however, hopefully look a little different now.
My parents have ALWAYS emphasized the importance of fitness. What makes my parents a little different from other people is that they aren’t really into sports. And they aren’t really partial to one particular physical activity. They just seem to really enjoy being active and physically challenging themselves. And they have always strongly communicated the idea that exercise makes you healthy.
While I’ve been physically active most of my life, there were a few years during the end of college and my first years of teaching when I really struggled. Throughout that time, I always wanted to get in better shape, and I would try to incorporate exercise into my life, but it wasn’t uncommon for me to go weeks at a time without getting much physical activity. Once I started teaching, during the summers I would get into a regular exercise routine, but then when school started, I would have a difficult time keeping it going. I wasn’t able to exercise consistently during a school year until 2008. Even then, though, I didn’t feel like I looked athletic. I didn’t feel like the product of two incredible athletes.
Now, finally, I feel like I’m where I want to be. Whether or not I’m actually in the best shape I’ve ever been is questionable. I could probably lift more during the summer of 2009 when I was lifting weights 4 times a week. And I could probably run farther during the summer of 2010 when Will and I ran the marathon. But now, after losing about 15 pounds from where I was pre-pregnancy, and with strength circuit training 4 times a week, I feel like my body finally looks athletic. I look a lot more like my mom than I ever have before. I’m just sorry I didn’t try calorie counting or know about circuit training when I was still in my 20s. I didn’t have to be unhappy with my body for so long.
What does this have to do with parenting? I am wondering how you teach healthy habits to your kids without going too far and making them obsess over body image. I feel like my parents set the best possible example for me, and I still spent most of my 20s unhappy with my body, wanting to be fit, but not really knowing how to change it. What can I do to set a good example for my kids? How can I help them navigate a world that is obsessed with being thin while simultaneously promoting unhealthy food and beverage choices? How can I teach them to love their bodies, even though I haven’t always loved mine?