Sitting down to write this blog about childhood obesity, I had no idea what emotions I would feel. It has been almost seven years that I have kept off my weight loss of 154 pounds. Keeping it off is significant, because, like many others, I have lost – and gained – weight many times. If I totaled the amount of weight I have lost and gained over the years, I could probably balance an elephant with it! I survived childhood obesity, lived with the results for 27 brutal years of my life, and then finally one day, I let go of it.
I feel passionately about childhood obesity and obesity in general. What I feel most passionate about is discovering the root and foundation that most of us have built our overweight lives upon. It is why our country’s health is so shaky and fragile — our foundations are weak.
What can we do about it and what does this mean to us as moms? In my opinion, three things we can do will make the biggest impact.
- Love your children. That is simple, obvious. What I mean is unconditionally, always, and without any other reason. Not because they won at their sport, received an award or got an A grade. No matter what choices they make, no matter what clothes they wear or friends they have, we just love them. It’s so obvious to us to provide food, shelter, clothing and the basic needs to survive. What is equally important is to give love, respect and trust.
- Lead by example. How can we love and take care of our children when we do not love ourselves? How can we ask them to do things we do not even do for ourselves? Moms often have the most influence over their children. They are the primary decision makers and care takers. They also typically do the majority of the shopping and food preparation. Obesity is not someone else’s problem – it is yours. Your child’s health is directly related to yours. It is time to rebuild that foundation, discover why we behave the way we do and make a change. Break the cycle! If what you want most is for your child to be happy, then you must first role model it. Get excited about your life, your health and your influence, before it’s too late!
- Accept accountability and consequences. Our nation is struggling to be accountable. Each generation seems to have less understanding of personal responsibility. Allow your children to make mistakes, so that they can learn from and own them. I know how scary the world can be, but we cannot keep child-proofing our children’s lives out of fear. We cannot seclude them from commercials, sugar, scrapes, tears, stores, music, technology… The list goes on and on. Of course, we can provide safe limits, but we cannot continue to hide from food. (For more information on how to build accountability with appropriate limits visit http://www.loveandlogic.com/ for lots of free parenting resources.)
It is through these things we can strengthen our foundations. We can help children learn healthy boundaries, feel loved and learn how their choices impact their lives, so that obesity and eating disorders cease to exist in the first place.
If you are still reading, I know you are someone who is capable of great change within yourself and of inspiring others to be capable of change. The most significant factor in maintaining my weight loss has been changing my relationship with food without trying to hide from it. I also learned accountability, some self-respect and a bunch of other good “stuff” along the way. These are my humble thoughts and I am grateful to you and all of those out there inspiring change.