Fit vs. Fiction's Blog

Go ahead moms, lie if you have to!

How many times have you lectured your kids on the importance of inner beauty, between sips of a diet cola or spoonfuls of fat free pudding? How many times have you assured them of the importance of not following the crowd, while you yourself were following a diet program on the advice of a girlfriend or some celebrity you saw raving about it on TV? Let me give it to you straight: Your kids are less interested in what you’re saying and more interested in what you’re doing. And believe me, they are watching. Long gone are the days of, “Do as I say, not as I do.” Most kids are in a hurry to grow up. When they’re 8 they want to be 10, when they’re 10 they want to be 16 and when they’re 16 they want to be 21. Lucky for us, there’s nothing they can do to speed up the aging process, but they will however do their best to act as if they can. On their quest for maturity, they will try to emulate the adult with the most influence in their life, and that, my friends, is you. It’s been proven that young women are most influenced by their friends and their mothers. What this tells us is that we have the opportunity to reach our kids in ways we may not even realize. When your kids see you making healthy lifestyle choices, like taking part in a physical activity on a regular basis and eating a full, balanced diet, they are more likely to do the same. Likewise, if you let things like fatigue, a busy schedule or the fear of trying new things keep you on the couch, and the ease of convenience has you reaching for foods high in fat, calories, additives and preservatives that temporarily comfort rather than nourish, your kids might follow suit. However, as dangerous as inactivity and unhealthy food habits may be, it is just as dangerous to go to the other extreme and let a diet mentality motivate every choice you make. If every bite and every step you take are based solely on how it will affect your waistline, you are desperately in need of balance. You cannot expect your kids to grow up enjoying a healthy relationship with food, if they’ve seen their mom live off diet products and food scales. You cannot teach anyone how to live a healthy lifestyle if you aren’t living one yourself.

I am a firm believer in the importance of honesty. The truth will set you free, as they say. However, when it comes to how we feel about our bodies, it’s okay to lie when in front of our kids. This is what’s called, “Lying with love”. These days, it’s become a national pastime to criticize every flaw and imperfection we can find in ourselves. It seems okay to complain about our stomachs that aren’t flat enough and our hips that are way too wide. But, in actuality, it’s not okay. It also doesn’t do anybody any good. I believe that how a woman views herself in front of her kids has an enormous impact on how her kids will eventually view themselves. Most women think nothing of patting their tummies with a sigh of regret or criticizing their food choices. This has to change. Like it or not, when a daughter sees her mom judging herself and ultimately knocking herself for being too fat, she will internalize what she’s seeing and in turn, will look at herself with the same overly critical eyes that will only become more critical and judgmental as she gets older.

This is where “Lying with love” comes in. The next time you’re feeling fat, keep it to yourself. The next time you find yourself starting to comment on the thighs you find too thick, try to change it around. Instead of seeing your thighs as too big, try appreciating them for the strength they give you to keep up with your kids when they’re running around. The next time your arms seem too soft and jiggly, remind yourself of all the things they need to lift, pull and push throughout the day. Truth be told, most kids would much prefer a hug from a warm, soft body than a bony, muscular one. If you make an effort to alter the messages you tell yourself in their presence, it’ll eventually become common practice.

The best part about this exercise is that the more positive reinforcement you give yourself for the benefit of your children, the more you’ll start to believe it yourself. We are so used to immediately going to the negative with ourselves and need to start focusing on the positive. Modeling unconditional love for ourselves is the greatest gift we can give our children.

Take the words “I feel fat” out of your vocabulary. It serves no purpose. I am not, however, suggesting that if you are engaging in unhealthy lifestyle behavior and find yourself overweight and unhappy that you should pretend to be happy for the sake of your kids. That would help no one. Instead, this would be a perfect opportunity to include your kids in the positive changes necessary to make a difference in your life. It’s crucial that you make the focus of your new lifestyle the element of “Health” instead of “weight”. For example, instead of telling your kids that you are going to start exercising and making better food choices because you’re fat; explain that you don’t feel as strong or energized as you’d like, and have decided to do something about it in a healthy, responsible way.

Make sure that you don’t fall into any quick weight loss traps and instead, seek out the kind of diet and fitness guidance that will set you on the path of lifelong well-being. Involve your kids in food preparation as a way of exposing them to a variety of healthy cooking options. There is no point in complaining about something you have the ability to change. Just be willing to make the changes.

Lead by example. Get active! Plan family activities that get you moving. The possibilities are endless. Find hiking trails in your area and choose the type of hike that suits you best; a relaxing nature walk or challenging uphill climb ending with a picnic at the top. Hop on some bikes and go for a ride or simply start a ritual of going for a stroll together after dinner. Surprise your kids by playing with them at the park instead of sitting on the sidelines and watching them as they play. It’s never too late to change; not just for your children, but also for yourself. You deserve to feel good about yourself. We all do.


2 Responses to 'Go ahead moms, lie if you have to!'

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  1. Love this post! So true about our kids watching and emulating everything we do. We have to be more conscious of our critical thoughts that we are verbalizing. Great meeting you tonight.

    • fitvsfiction said,

      Thanks Beth! Right back at ya!

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