Raising Healthy Girls and the Diet Trap

Bella out with her friend Ninja: Making health and exercise part of our life

Bella out with her friend Ninja: Making health and exercise part of our life

“Bread goes straight to the hips Bella” my friend caught me saying this morning.

“I thought you weren’t going to talk to Bella like that” she said. Busted. Big time. There I was perpetuating the generational cycle again. Message given: bread bad but delicious, therefore should be eaten in large amounts behind closed doors in a binge like fashion. Not to mention the message about a woman’s hips needing to be a certain shape.

Those who have followed this blog will remember my entries about weight loss. What I have failed to mention here lately is that since Bella was born I have been trying to shed the weight that I gained whilst pregnant.

Let me recap quickly for you. 2007: got married. 2008: became depressed and spent the best part of 18 months rotting away in a psychiatric unit trying to recover but nonetheless, gained 40 kilos in the process (talk about “blowing out” after marriage right?). 2010: got well on the road to recovery, jumped back into life and started down the weight loss path and lost 30 kilos by Christmas 2011. 2012: carried Bella to term and somehow managed to put it all back on.

Now I know what you’re thinking, why did I do it to myself again? Well I can honestly say, I had no idea it was happening. I didn’t own scales at the time and as my big belly grew, the fact that my ass was growing at the same time seemed to elude me. Sure, I couldn’t fit into my clothes but wasn’t that a product of the pregnancy? Apparently not.

So a couple of months after having Bella I procured some scales and was absolutely astounded to see that I had gained over 25 kilos. No, it wasn’t fluid and she was a few months old at that point so it definitely wasn’t her. It was just fat. Friggin fat..again! Deep breath.

Before I fell pregnant I was ten kilos away from my goal weight which by the way was not thin but very comfortable. Having Bella has just put a little stumble block in the way of returning to that goal. The good news is that I have managed to lose 22 of those kilos since that dreaded day on the scales a few months after she was born. But I now have to finish what I started in 2010 and lose that extra ten and get back into wedding dress shape.

But I’m so darn tired of it. I’m tired of this being an issue and I’m tired of being in the proverbial no man’s land when it comes to shopping (every other size 16 woman on the planet knows what I mean when I say this!). But most of all, this little problem needs to be nipped in the bud quick sticks if I’m to set a great example for Bella.

Just to be clear, the example I’m aiming for is not to be thin and beautiful. It’s to be healthy and happy. I’m a short woman so pushing 80 kilos around is not healthy and it certainly ain’t happy. So for the last six months I’ve been pushing the pram up and down hills, over creeks and under bridges. I even went to a Zumba class for seniors last week for heaven’s sake (which by the way was delightful)!

But all that aside, as well as the self-ingratiating sentiment that by doing all this I am somehow being a good mother, I went along this morning and managed to demonstrate that I really haven’t got the picture yet.

So how do we raise these girls of ours then? I read a quote from Kate Winslet that said “As a child I never heard one woman say to me I love my body…no one woman ever said I am so proud of my body. So I make sure to say it to Mia because a positive outlook has to start at an early age”. This quote had quite an effect on me and for some time I tried to follow suit. I started small and told Bella that I really like my fingers and then slowly ventured up to telling her I liked my tummy.

But it felt weird and it went against everything I have been taught about modesty. Perhaps it isn’t right to raise a little girl who goes into interactions with other little girls talking about how beautiful she is anyway? But mainly, I’m not a liar and my stomach resembles more of a circus act than anything else. Like the rest of me, it’s just hanging around waiting for the plastic surgeon to arrive.

Perhaps the best thing is to not mention anything at all; not food, not my fingers, not even my curly mop which Bella seems to have been blessed with as well. Maybe by some sheer luck of the draw she will be a confident little girl despite all the images she sees in the media and her mother’s venomous dislike of her body. But I doubt it.

I fear it’s my job to do this one thing right. And all I know right now is that it starts with those hills and that pram and the last ten kilos so that Bella only knows a mother on the beach who is bouncing around in all her stretch-marked glory with confidence, rather than hiding under an oversized caftan. And while I’m at it, there’s only so much holding-the-camera-above-your-head-whilst-simultaneously-pulling-your-chin-out-and-placing-your-hand-on-your-hip can do for the Christmas photos. Perhaps if I’m happy though, she’ll know no other condition but to be such.

With some embarrassment I’m owning up to my folly during pregnancy and making the public resolution I made here some three years ago. This weight has got to go.

So all together now, collective sigh….Here’s to 2013 and lacy knickers.

P.s. G-srings, boxers, briefs, (new addition of Spanx) and nudies also welcome.

4 responses »

  1. Great post. Thanks for sharing so much.

    BUT: ‘Like the rest of me, it’s just hanging around waiting for the plastic surgeon to arrive’ ?! —-> No! …

    As for body image, I think about it a lot with young girls and potential future daughters. I’ve never really had major issues – usual puberty shit like hating my huge boobs that suddenly appeared overnight – but that was more adjusting to a woman’s body than issues per se

    I think a lot about why some of my friends do have hang ups about their bodies and some of them don’t. The one key theme I see is that women who have grown up seeing lots of other women naked or near naked are more comfortable in their skin – I think it might be because they have seen so many types of naked women that they KNOW that there’s more than one way to look beautiful. Growing up dancing I have seen almost as many naked women as a spray tanning technician. I also think a lot of my acceptance of my body came from so many years dancing. Spending hours each week in a leotard in front of a mirror trying to make beautiful lines with my body and leaps with my legs made me see my body as functional – is it strong enough to do this jump? Flexible enough to create that line? Fit enough to sustain this performance? Have I fed it enough fuel to get through a six hour rehearsal? I am still really conscious of my health – not because I want to be a certain weight, but because being a certain weight usually means I am fit enough to be able to get about life healthily and happily. I hope I can foster the same sort of attitude to young women in my life. I think it’s important to focus on the health – the body image part is a consequence of that.

    And well done you. On all of it. x

  2. You’re right, you’re right. I made the comment about the surgeon in jest but realise how much of a conditioned response it is in itself. I suppose I have never actually appreciated my body for anything much really like you describe (beside growing a baby and producing milk which is pretty miraculous!). I’d love to get to that stage where I see my body as being able to achieve things as well. I think I’m getting there but it poses an interesting option; talking to Bella about all the great things my body can do because it is fit and healthy as opposed to what it looks like. Great food for thought!

  3. So beautifully well said as always Chat. I am so proud of the way you write. It is not only that it is clever and wittily put but it is the underlying wave of warmth and love you show that makes it so readable. You are remarkable Chat and Bella is the luckiest little girl in the world to have you as her Mama. Now how can I help the goal for 2013. I mean really!!! love Mum

    Date: Tue, 5 Feb 2013 08:16:55 +0000 To: shauneenweate@hotmail.com

  4. I think you are being a bit hard on yourself Chat. How about focussing on how much you HAVE achieved in the last year and using that positive approach to convince yourself that you CAN do the rest of the job? And don’t lie to yourself, you DO want to be thin and beautiful and sexy because you are young, you are beautiful and sexy and the only thing still to conquer is the THIN bit. The woman you want to be is within your grasp becauseyou have done 75% of the job in the past year. How hard would it be if you were ugly or plain and would never be beautiful and sexy no matter how thin you got? Or, like me, getting old, so having to be satisfied with healthy and fit because the years have taken care of the beautiful and sexy?
    Don’t see yourself through the prism of Bella, you do this for yourself and the rest will take care of itself. Always looking at it through the eyes of a new mother brings guilt into the whole equation and that is de-motivating and negative. Lecture ended. See you on Saturday.

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