Thursday, February 20, 2014

Body Image

I went to the gym today and tried out my new shoes.  3 easy miles.  You don't realize that your shoes are worn until you try a new pair.  They felt so good.  I also lifted like a beast. My shoulders are aching.

Now, on to something a little more serious.  When did you start worrying about your body, weight, shape, whatever?  How do we learn what is good and what is bad when it comes to our bodies? How do we teach our kids to have more confidence than we did?

Body Image

The first time I remember being embarrassed about my weight was in 5th grade.  I remember having to stand in line and get weighed and measured.  I remember that I was 5'5" and weighed 116 lbs.  I thought I was huge.  I was taller and bigger than everyone else and I was sure that no one else weighed over 100 lbs at 11 years old. 

I don't remember how I learned about weight, what was acceptable and what was not.  I didn't worry about food until I was in High School and even then I didn't really obsess over it.  Actually, I used to run to the store and get chips and donuts and not think anything of it. I remember my mind being blown when I found out the "main dish" should not be your main source of food.

In 6th grade, I weighed 121 and was 5'7".  I was round faced and active.  I didn't think about weight, except for on that day. I wore my older sister's pants sometimes--they were a size 5. Junior High was a different experience.  We had PE and had to change clothes everyday.  I think I must have noticed how skinny some of the girls were, but still didn't think I was big.  When I got measured that year, I was 5'8" and 134 lbs.  I could believe that I weighed that much.  The only other girl that I knew weighed that much was like 6 feet tall.  8th grade, I remember weighing 143, but still being 5'8." I wore boy jeans and T-shirts, trying to cover-up my "larger" self.  I didn't know what to do.  I was bigger than both of my older sisters and felt uncomfortable, not unhappy, and awkward.

There wasn't a scale in our house, so I never knew when or why I gained weight.  So every year it was a shock.  I wanted to play sports, but I didn't want to have to go to a physical and get weighed.  I think it was my sophomore year in HS, I hit 165 lbs. at 5'9." The nurse said, "I don't know where your hide it all."  Like that would make me feel better.

One high school coach told me I was slow and another said I would be a good athlete if I could gain some muscle.  I didn't have a sounding board or a fitness coach to help me out with these things.  I was afraid of weights, because I didn't know how to really use them.  I had a pair of small dumbbells, but only used them for basic moves I found in a non-fitness magazine. I didn't feel bad about myself, just frustrated that I was large.  During my senior year, I worked after school which stopped most of my mindless snacking.  And I ended up graduating at 143 lbs.  I felt great--except for my horrid hair cut--when I started college. Then I gained the freshman 15 and didn't exercise beyond walking to class and the occasional game of one-on-one basketball.

I wish that I would have had some healthy habits in place before I went off on my own to college.  I didn't realize the importance of exercise and healthy eating.  I didn't know I would feel better physically and mentally if I took care of my body in that way.  I wish I would have known that there is no "right" size. I hope that I can teach my kids that being active is important, without being pushy and negative. Food is fuel and can make you energized or sluggish, depending on what you choose. I strive to model good nutrition (moderation) and fitness habits for my kids, so they feel confident and strong and happy.

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