I am overweight. I have almost always been overweight as an adult. Probably as a child too.
I was slim in my teens and early twenties, but only due to diet coke, black coffee, cigarettes and a fingers-in-the-throat habit. I would save half my sandwich from my art college lunch box, to eat before my walk across town to the bus station so that I wouldn’t faint.
I have put back on all the weight (plus some more) that I lost through gently walking and breastfeeding following the birth of my first daughter. Depression, Prozac, passing my driving test and eating too much cake are all to blame a bit. But really it’s my love of food and my lack of exercise more than any of those things.
Even as a slim teen I had boobs and hips. And I see my shape (though not the fatness) echoed in my daughter. I do not want my daughters to diet or to feel they ‘ought’ to be slimmer. To equate slimness with beauty, or desirability. To hate the bodies they have been given or to compare them with friends. Or worse, models and actresses, airbrushed and lengthened. But, on the other hand, I am not modelling a healthy body weight or a particularly active lifestyle.
We are honest about ‘fat’ in my house. We haven’t banned the word. And it is true that fat is unhealthy, so we talk about that. My girls know I’m fat, but they also know that while that isn’t good for my body, it does not make me any less valuable, lovable, clever or fun.
I don’t want to obviously ‘diet’. As someone who has done a lot of it, I don’t think it works, and I think its often unhealthy. For instance encouraging people to eat processed crap (low-fat yogurt) in place of real, home cooked and nutritious foods. I need to lose weight in a healthy way.
I need to become more active too. I do take the girls out to parks and woodland and beaches. but I’ll never be a runner. My older daughter is already finding she is one of the slower runners in her class. My family are not built for speed, but I used to do well in cross-country. We’re good for endurance and team sports and we can focus as a family on being outdoorsy. On swimming. On long walks and just getting outside as much as possible.
So the plan is to eat real, whole foods. Ditch the cake habit. and stop the after dinner, in front of the telly snacks that D and I indulge in.
We’ll continue to get active, although I won’t pretend I’ll start running.
I know from the last time I lost weight that as you become healthier, you feel a million times better and gain more energy, so I want to focus on that.
I am the same person fat or thin and I want the girls to understand that and value the person not the image. I’m no better when I’m thinner, but if I have more energy and feel better, modelling a healthy approach to eating real food with treats as treats, then I think I’m doing the right thing.
I still have a conundrum about how much I should discuss it with the girls. My instinct is not to mention it at all, as there is no need for it to be visible. However, that feels a bit counterintuitive too. Being overweight is bad for you. Modelling a healthy approach to weight loss is good modelling. Taking the focus off the weight itself and instead onto simply enjoying good health is sensible, right?
While I think about it, I’ll focus on the important stuff and get them out to the park.