I am probably not the only woman on this planet that has an unusual obsession with my weight and body image. Actually, it’s mainly my body image. I know this, because at one brief point I reached my ‘goal weight’ and yet found I was still unhappy with my body image. There were still aspects I was not happy with. But I reached my goal weight in time for my wedding – I proudly did my victory dance in the changing rooms as I put on my size 8 wedding dress and even now look back on my wedding photos with pride.
And then of course I became pregnant, and my battle started all over again. Now you may wonder why this topic on Cheeky Kids? Is this another whoa is me story about a Mum who is struggling to lose post-baby weight? Quite the alternative……as from tomorrow I am embarking on a process of ‘reverse dieting’. As I looked around for yet another approach to seeking the ‘perfect body’ I came across an Australian trainer advocating the need for women to eat real food and the right amounts of it for a healthy balance. To actually eat more calories, not less. As I shared with her my story and my 1200 calorie, 6 day-a-week training approach, she suggested I was not eating enough for my body to operate in a healthy way and that I was causing metabolic damage. She asked for how long I had adopted this approach in my quest for my ideal body image. I had never considered this, as to me it was just what you did. Eat less, exercise more. But it would seem I had been doing this for a rather long time – at least 7 years or more. And the proof of success of this approach clearly lay in my stagnant body measurements.
So tomorrow I embark on a process of increasing my calorie intake and reducing my high level of cardio exercise regime. The problem is, I enjoy the feeling of a hungry tummy. A rumbling tummy to me means I’m losing weight. A full tummy makes me feel fat. Ive got so used to missing meals, avoiding yummy foods, saying no to delicious delights all in the name of weight loss, that my body has accepted this is what it will operate from. And in the process I have suffered other side effects noted in a metabolic-resistant or damaged state – lethargy, anaemia, hormonal imbalance and so on. I have simply been damaging my body.
But if this was just about me then, quite honestly, I’d probably continue to keep going round and round in my under-eating/over-training cycle. But this is not just about me. I have a beautiful daughter who, without realising it, is learning from me what it means to be a woman. And so far she has watched her Mum head out almost daily to pound the pavements in her spandex. She has seen her Mum prepare meals for the family and not eat them herself. While enjoying a family ice cream trip, she has seen her Mum do the ordering, but not the eating. So what has this all taught her? That grown women provide for their families, but miss out on the delights themselves. That they exercise madly. That they don’t have a balanced love of food, exercise and life.
We have been very careful in our family to avoid words that relate to body image in a derogatory sense. When I explain why I am off for my exercise I make the links between health and longevity of life. I jokingly say I want to meet my great-grandchildren one day, and to do that I need to have a healthy heart. And to have a healthy heart means regular exercise. We talk about healthy food and sometimes food, and the health benefits, not the aesthetic impact on ones body. But I have failed to realise that my actions are screaming much louder than my words. I am failing to provide my daughter with a model she can hang her own thoughts and beliefs on in the battle against the world’s obsession with the female body image.
I want my daughter to be different than I. As parents, we work hard to nurture her spirit, her creativity, her character and her confidence. I would not want her, in 30 years time to be having the same battle I now face in reassessing my relationship with food and my own self-image. I want it to be a non-issue for her as she confidently moves through her life – happy in her own self-image, healthy and happy. So, tomorrow, the foundation for this will begin construction. I begin my own journey, so very conscious of the little eyes watching.