Looking back to as early as I can remember, I have always had insecurities about my weight and appearance. I’ve always been self conscience.
I don’t think it was intentionally put on me, but I was reminded, ALOT, that I needed to watch what I eat and stay away from fatty/sugary foods. I was told CONSTANTLY I had the body type that could put on weight easily and if I wasn’t careful I would be heavy.
These constant reminders made me feel low. They made me feel like I was out of control, like eventually I would be fat because that is how I was made.
This brought on a lot of insecurities and low self esteem. I felt out of control and didn’t know what to do! I wasn’t taught the importance of eating for health and wellness. The focus was always about how I SHOULD look and how I WOULD look if I wasn’t careful. The message I heard was: STARVE AND BE SKINNY AND PRETTY OR EAT AND BE FAT AND UGLY.
And, eventually, the words spoken to me came true. I gained weight. I was bigger than I wanted to be. I didn’t eat right. I didn’t exercise. I WAS UNHEALTHY!
Eventually, I realized only I could change the way I look. If I’m not happy, then I need to do something about it. So, slowly but surely, I began to get healthy. I made better food choices. I exercised. The weight fell off. And, to be honest, sometimes it came back on a bit. But overall, I was able to get more comfortable in my skin. After losing about 30 pounds, I didn’t feel fat anymore.
My daughter is almost 3. She has yet to feel the pressures of being a certain weight and looking a certain way. Everyday I look at her and pray that she stays young, innocent, and happy forever. I know this can’t happen. Everyone must grow up. Things happen.
But, if there is one thing I hope I can do for my daughter, it is to protect her from the pain, insecurity, and hurt that comes with an unhealthy approach to diet and exercise. I hope I can teach my daughter the real truths about being healthy and active. The lessons that are important for a long, happy, healthy, and well life.
This is what I hope she can learn from me:
THINGS MY DAUGHTER NEEDS TO KNOW ABOUT DIET AND EXERCISE
NEED TO KNOW #1 You eat healthy not to look a certain way. You eat healthy to FEEL a certain way. Good food choices protects your body from disease and illness. Good food choices make you feel more energized and alive. Good food choices give you glowing skin and beautiful hair. A healthy weight is just an added bonus to nourishing your body properly.
NEED TO KNOW #2 You exercise to keep your muscles strong, your heart pumping, and your bones sturdy. I hope you never exercise for the sole purpose of losing weight. Doing this means you don’t understand the importance of exercise. Make your body strong and healthy so you can be around as long as possible, because I need you around as long as possible! Just like with making good food choices, a healthy weight is just an added bonus to exercise.
NEED TO KNOW #3 Exercise is more than just being on the elliptical for 30 minutes. Make it fun! Find something you love that gets your heart pumping, your skin sweating, and your muscles growing. Whatever this activity is, do it! You don’t have to be good at it. That’s not the point! If you combine exercise with something you love, then you not only strengthen your body but you strengthen your soul!
NEED TO KNOW #4 Learn to cook! Get in the kitchen and make your meals. Don’t buy your meals already made. There is too much unnecessary and unhealthy ingredients in prepackaged food! Understand the importance of whole foods and how they can make you healthy and strong.
NEED TO KNOW #5 Never say I need to lose weight. Always say, I need to be healthy and strong. That is the whole point! Make that your motto: I NEED TO BE HEALTHY AND STRONG!
NEED TO KNOW #6 You are in control! You get to decide what goes into your body. You can control how active you are. Making yourself strong and healthy is ultimately up to you. You are in the drivers seat. No one can force you to eat food that you know is not nourishing to your body. No one can force you to eat healthy food either! No one can force you to stay planted on the couch watching TV. And, no one is going to come drag you kicking and screaming to do something active! It’s all up to you! You make the choices. You need to make the best decisions for your body.
NEED TO KNOW #7 That piece of cake is not going to ruin you. Life is short. Indulge a little bit. If you want to eat cake, then eat cake! Just try not to eat cake everyday. Don’t forbid yourself from eating certain foods. It’s all about moderation and balance.
NEED TO KNOW #8 There is so much more to you than your body shape and size! You are smart, funny, creative, beautiful, sassy, energetic, fun to talk to, fun to be around, loving, kind, playful and…I could go on for days! There is so much more to you than your outward appearance! Know who you are and focus on those things!
NEED TO KNOW #9 Choose friends who encourage healthy habits. You are the company you keep. Find people who enjoy the same activities you do. Have a support system of people who want you to be healthy and strong. Create friendships with people who are motivating, encouraging, and accepting.
NEED TO KNOW #10 If you ever get to a place where you don’t feel healthy and strong, I hope you remember this: YOU ARE LOVED! Every inch of you!!
I hope I can instill these lessons into my daughter as she grows up. When she is a teenager I hope these are her thoughts about living a healthy lifestyle. I will do all that I can to encourage these thoughts and habits. Ultimately, though, it’s up to her. I just pray I can be the example she wants to follow.
Did I miss anything? What lessons about diet and exercise to you try to teach your daughters? Let me know in the comments below!