Body Image: How can we be healthy role models?

This topic wasnt originally my plan for today’s Monday Facetime—-but I couldnt get your comments on this post out of my head.

I was touched, saddened, heartened, inspired and, honestly, shocked  by the stories you shared.

The comment-snippets below sparked the Facetime which follows.

Id be honored if you’d make the time to share your thoughts so we can compile an uplifting commentversation thread.

Last week’s comments (while entirely what I’d asked for and quite powerful) verged on sad.

I know we may not come up with one answer (as per the last comment below) but at least we’ll have a start.

I would love a tip post, Miz. How I can not duplicate in my children how I feel.

what I want my daughter to take into the rest of her life is that healthy and strong is beautiful. DD should find an activity she’s good at and enjoys, and then get out there and kick butt… .

I wanted to share that in your video when you said that your daughter would be enough just being who she is I cried a little. That’s all I ever wanted.

I think you may be correct that there is no one answer—-Id love to try and find one.
Will you address this again?

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ZREVOoWMHo

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Comments

  1. says

    Such a great idea.

    I think its good to really lay off the pressure for young girls. Just lead by example with showing how NATURAL it is to exercise and enjoy it and eat well and really truly live. To act the part of the confident strong independent woman even if we’re not so much feeling it at the time… other people take courage from that and WE in turn take courage from that and become what we strive for.

    Sometimes, our attitudes have to follow our behaviors, rather than the other way around.

  2. says

    wow!

    I do not think I have anything new to add. I am trying to be the best role model I can for my daughter and I think you just helped me greatly with a decision I have been really working on, thank you.(hint it has to do with the 6/2 date :) )

    Helping one with self confidence, especially our young ones is so important and as a Mom I am striving to do that for my daughter and my sons. After all how I raise my sons will be how they perceive woman when they are older so trying to have that balance is good.

    We/I will be incorporating a healthy, balanced way of life (regards to eating and exercise) throwing out the “diet” for good and focusing on being healthy and active as an individual and a family. This will be a real struggle because it goes completely contrary to how I was raised. My Mom (I do love her so much regardless of everything else) never instilled much confidence into us girls. None of us have/had a healthy outlook on ourselves or how to live a healthy life. As I said in my comments from the original post, we/I did not even know what fresh veggies were or tasted like until sometime after I was married. We always had fast food, take-out or hamburger helper type meals. I will not even allow that stuff in my house (boxed meals) to make, I do struggle with the fast food/restaurant/take-out horribly and THAT is something I am working on breaking to be a balanced “treat” IF you could really even call it that.
    Thank you Miz for this, for the help you had in my decision (though you have no idea how MUCH you have played in this), for all your thought provoking things you post about and say.

  3. Hanah says

    LOL @ Trish who said she had nothing to add and then added a great deal.

    I have 2 sons and am also trying to raise them to be healthy happy long living men.

    I ADORED when you said practicing what you preach so you don’t need to preach (or however you phrased it).

    I’ve been preaching.

  4. Bea says

    Love this idea too.
    I hadn’t though about your point that last weeks comments were more sad than uplifting.

    I plan to be a healthy role model for my children when I have them by getting myself healthy before I have them!

  5. says

    I think being a healthy role model is the priority but I also think being relaxed about/around food and about exercise is important too. It’s vital for kids not to see food as good or bad you know. It’s just fuel for life and some food works much better than other options.

    I think too that awareness about what we say to kids and around kids is so, so important. We all need to think before we speak. Words can have a massive effect as I know well from my own mother.

  6. Leslie says

    I wont out you even though I know you in real life :) but you and I have frequently talked about how easy it is to say thing TO YOURSELF about YOU & have little ears hear and think it applies to them as well.

    I know with my twins I need to start watching what I say even under my breath.

    You remarked to me once that it is, in a way, OK think these things (small steps to losing the thoughts entirely) and that a start is to not say them aloud/pass them on.

  7. says

    I feel really lucky that growing up, exercise and sports and other activities were just seen as a natural fun thing to do, not some sort of accomplishment to be judged on.

    Also, and this is weird, but huge–I grew up in an intellectual, skeptical household. We were encouraged to question and laugh at the silly things that we saw on tv or read in advertisements.

    I think subtle and not-so-subtle media messages take a HUGE toll on female self-esteem, and the more one learns to ignore these and not take them seriously, the better!

  8. Nan says

    I had the volume turned down on the video but did you say that most kids look to the mother for healthy living tips?

    That would be good news here!

    I’m not too healthy. I’m not perfect. My husband has a horrible diet.

    I need to listen again when everyone isn’t sleeping.

  9. says

    Great video! I’m also very interested in this subject. My mother was always at war – with herself and her body. She taught me to distrust my body and it’s been hard letting go of that conditioning and building a relationship with my own body.

    You’re right about the fact that we should lead by example. The emphasis should be on health and being strong, rather than weight and impossible ideals.

    My husband grew up in a home where both parents played sport, cycled, canoed and hiked. A love for physical activity was ingrained in him and he still runs to this day.

  10. MizFit says

    running past the computer as we start our morning but this IMO is KEY:

    I grew up in an intellectual, skeptical household. We were encouraged to question and laugh at the silly things that we saw on tv or read in advertisements.

    I dont want to shelter the toddler from all media (magazines etc) in order to foster a healthy body image IN THE SAME WAY I already bring her to McDs so she can learn that even THERE she can make good choices.

    I want to arm her with the ability to make good decisions in seemingly ‘bad’ situations.

    Crabby’s sentiment reinforces that as well.

    More in a bit…

  11. suganthi says

    I have two sons. But I loved this post. I have often thought about the natural human tendency to be drawn to outward beauty. Or is it natural? No, years of conditioning through various ways: people you live with, your friends, the media.

    I am not sure abut how the statistics translate to boys. But I really hope that my mostly good habits get imprinted in my childrens brains. I practice what I preach most times, though every so often I put the wrong thing in my mouth. As far as healthy eating habits, it is a constant struggle in our household with the boys team constantly negating my “only healthy” foods zone. DH brings the wrong foods into the house and even I give in when a mutiny erupts in my household.. my now 18 -year old once wrote his grocery demands to me… “I want completely hydrogenated food”.

    I am very conscious about what I tell in front of my child.
    I don’t think I did this with my first child, but by the time my second was born, I had grown as a person. It is a good thing when I pause before I say something. It often provides that moment of reflection when I realize how wrong it is to judge anybody for anything. My husband is a huge influence in my life in this aspect: he is the least judgemental person I have ever met and ahs taught me to understand and respect various cultures and view points.

  12. says

    Good Morning Miz!

    I like how you say that you try to stay away from the “oh, you’re so pretty, so cute etc.” compliments. Praising for what she is capable or trying to be capable of doing is awesome. Looks fade, but being healthy and strong is something she can be for a lifetime, if she chooses! :) It puts her in the driver seat.

    It’s hard not to praise our kids but I think that over praising them can breed perfectionism or pressure in our children. I think that is linked to self-esteem as well, thinking they aren’t good enough. When we praise or encourage our children we should be very specific, I like the colors in that picture, not, that’s the best picture in the whole wide world. In their minds how can they possibly make another picture that can compare to the best picture in the whole wide world?!

    I have talked to my son as well about people coming in all different shapes and sizes, colors. I’m trying to teach, love and acceptance, patience, tolerance.

    Thanks for this topic Miz, I think that is a very important one that can be addressed again and again!

  13. Evan says

    I would like to chime in for the guys (come on guys!) that I, too, think about raising boys in this tough climate for all people.

    Just look at the cover of the men’s fitness magazines. I don’t look like that and I want to raise boys who do not evaluate their selfworth if they do not look like that either.

    Great post!

  14. says

    Oh, I forgot to mention….

    When I was growing up my parents/grandparents used the whole good girl/bad girl term. I grew up in a lot of ways thinking that *I* was bad! I felt a lot of shame, also tied to self-esteem. With my son I don’t use those terms, I believe that his *actions* can be bad, but *he* is not bad.

    Not exactly what you were talking about but there are a lot of things that contribute to self-esteem and how you see yourself, or how you think other people are seeing you!!

    Love this topic!!!!

  15. says

    Evan,

    I have a son and I agree with you. This is not just about the girls anymore. I had to give my hubby the hairy eyeball the other day because he made a negative comment about his body in front of our son and I don’t want our son at age 4 or really any age to think that anything is wrong with him or how he looks.

  16. says

    Morning All,

    I am working everyday at being a healthier role model for my children and other people’s children. I say working because I believe it to be one of the jobs that I have as a parent. The most important element is communication…constant communication, because ideas are fluid and repetition is important. I encourage you to talk openly with kids about the food choices you are making both in their presence and out. For example, when you go to the grocery store why I are you choosing this cereal over that one. What ingredients are you watching out for? My children know about high fructose corn syrup. They know that I am looking for cereals with good fiber and protein content, and lower sugar numbers because i t gives them a better foundation to start their day. That way they know that if I buy them the apple jacks on vacation that it is a treat and must be used accordingly.

    We talk about the components of a healthy meal plan, vegetables, fruit, carbos, protein, fiber, omega 3′s… when they want a treat they come and report to me, “I had protein and some fruit already, if I have some veggies can I have a popsicle?” They look at their diet as a whole, over the course of the day, instead of meal to meal. This makes them more aware of whether or not they are getting what they need to function and grow. They are also able to plan better if they know that we are going out to dinner in the evening at a restaurant with a dessert they like they won’t have any treats earlier in the day so that they can makes the choice to get the treat later. This self awareness is empowering.

    We keep snacks in the car, which can be a little hard to manage as a mess, but ultimately it’s worth the extra trouble as it saves money , time and it gives them better choices than just running to the fast food line or a vending machine. In our garage we have a set of shelves with all of the snacks. Before we head out to an event they are responsible for gathering their own snacks for their bags like pretzels, turkey jerkey, k-bars, fruit snacks, nuts… In the freezer we keep cheese sticks, fruit juice jello, snack pack puddings made with milk. Gogurts, grapes and the pb n j uncrustables.

    They also understand how important hydration is. They make sure to have their water bottles filled because they need to replace their fluids when they are out running and playing. We spend a lot of time at the park after school, so they can urn off all of the steam they accumulated through the day sitting at their desks. There is not enough inherent activity built into the school day, so it is really important that they have a chance to run like puppies after school and on the weekends. We love to rake walks as a family, whenever our crazy schedules allow. We always have a water bottle and snack in tow too, just in case.

    As far as body image goes, I am open with my kids about my own desire to be healthier and more fit. They know that I have been struggling despite being extremely active and very particular about my eating habits. We talk about metabolism, the heat in your body that helps you burn food energy and reduce your weight. We talk about how stress and lack of sleep can really make you run cold. They see me burning the candle at both ends and remind me that I need to rest. just as I remind them. We are a team.

    We also talk about food triggers. They know that if I am really really super stressed out I will have black licorice-an extremely uncharacteristic move for me since I don’t often eat sugar stuff. And if I am over the edge I may have a root beer or a diet coke! It’s funny to hear their response, “Oh boy, Mom’s got a soda, we better go clean our rooms.”

    The fact of the matter is we are never going to eat and do “right” all of the time, and that’s okay. It’s okay as long as we are paying attention make informed choices, good and bad. My kids understand that ultimately it’s about how I feel in my ow skin and about myself that matters most, not some socially imposed ideal. So I make choices to do the best that I can that plays to my reality. Hopefully by doing so, I am teaching them to do the same.

    Active Play, Healthy Food and Peaceful sleep are what we need for an AWESOME fit life. I sing about it, I teach it and I live it. That’s what my children need from me as a parent, and I am willing to step up to the plate for the challenge.

    SMILE On!

    ML

  17. Meredith says

    I have done a lot of fake it till I make it in my life & your video made me realize that it’s ok if I’m telling my daugher how much I adore my big legs because they are strong (which they are I just wish there were less of them) even if I’m not 100% there yet.

    Thank you for all you do.

  18. Miz says

    thanks to all of you who have chimed in so far.

    I’ve not plead for comments before but am, in all honesty, doing so today.

    For you to wrack your brains so we can come up with 100 & 1 Ways To Be A Healthy Living Role Model.

    I also wanna TOOT Miss.Lori’s horn (yeah, I’m kinda awed that she stopped by. The toddler is AWED I ‘know her’).

    She’s an amazing woman doing all she can for our next generation.

    And, if you live in our domicile, you are QUITE a fan of her work on PBS KIDS.

  19. says

    I don’t like that everyone is pressured to be so thin. I’ll probably always want to be thinner even though I’m at a healthy weight. But…I do like that there is pressure on people to live a healthy lifestyle – eat right and exercise. If you can find a good balance (teach through example) some of society’s body image issues can be beneficial.

  20. says

    This is an amazing post. Almost cried.

    As the recipient of a few generations’ worth of practice at serious body image problems, I can testify that how moms view their own bodies can — and does — strongly impact how little girls relate to their own. And in my remaining naivete and youth, I’d like to point out what I hypothesize to be the most robust trick against this phenomenon:

    BE AWARE.

    The fact that we’re here right now reading/writing about how to prevent our daughters/sons from body image problems? The first step towards success, a step not taken by the majority of moms (and dads) who give their children complexes.

    Just remember, folks:

    - Your child’s psyche is just as much a reflection of your skills as a parent as your child’s physique.
    - Good parenting is something that creates a healthy old man/woman 90 years from now, not something that optimizes how early on your child finds his/her optimal ‘hotness.’
    - You are raising a child, not a Barbie/Ken doll. There is a person inside, and I’d like to think God chose to give you the gift of a baby because you’d put its interests (health, both physical AND mental) ahead of your own (“My daughter’s a size 0! I’m a good parent!”).

    One more thing:

    As much as I complain (we complain) about how much our parents did that was wrong, it behooves us to remember a lot of what they did was RIGHT. It’s easy (especially for those of us who inherited EDs) to dismiss all our parents’ techniques, but clearly we’re all here, caring about fitness and health, so learn from that and go with it. At least we care, and — like I said — that’s the first (and most important) step.

    Love,
    Mandapants

  21. Stacy says

    I agree entirely with Alison above.
    There should be ‘pressure’ on our children to be healthy and fit yet this ‘pressure’ can easily be accomplished by leading by example.

    My parents did this and I didn’t even realize it until recently it was so subtle.

    I really enjoyed your post.

  22. says

    Setting a good example is the best thing any of us can do. Everyone has his or her own life and is entitled to live it. Some children follow their parents examples, some do the opposite. No one knows why or which path kids will take. That’s why siblings, raised in the same environment can turn out so differently.

  23. says

    I can believe the statistics however one can’t ignore how fathers and the use of pornography effects the women and children and their body image, weight and self esteem.

    I’ve heard young women say they have to compete with the porn stars (body image).

    If there is an man in the family who is looking at porn their image of women (thin, big breasted, perfect) is being passed down to the kids and is also effecting the mother.

    This will effect their body image, self-esteem, never good enough, lack of self acceptance and self hatred etc.

    Also remember one has to me mentally and spiritually balanced as well or this will effect your child’s body weight.

    Often it’s not what your child is eating but what’s eating your child? Same for adults.

    Fathers play as big of a role in their childs weight and body image as mothers. Just offering a different way to look at it.

  24. says

    Great post. I try to make a healthy lifestyle as natural and fun as possible. We have weekly outings to Farmers’ Markets, which are fun for everyone. My kids truly like fruits and vegetables and enjoy tasting all the samples. We also make exercise part of every day. At the same time, we are relaxed around food and exercise and focus on enjoying it. I try to pass on to my kids that (almost) everything in moderation is okay. Living a healthy life should feel good not like a stressor! :)

  25. says

    It’s kind of funny, because there are two aspects to this I think aren’t being addressed:

    First: Parents can do no right. There seems to be a developmental point in some people (especially teens and early 20s) where everything that’s wrong with them is because they had dysfunctional parents. I read blogs about people who claim to be fat because their mother exercised too much or was too into her own body. I read blogs about people who claim to be fat because their mother didn’t care about her body. Young people who think they know better, had it tough, didn’t get the right upbringing.

    To me it seems a lot of times the kids just wanted their parents to meet their own ideals, or didn’t want them to be human. Now there are plenty of people out there who have horrendous parents, parents who TRULY abused or neglected them, but the kids who didn’t get breakfasts made for them when they were 10 because mom was out running in the morning just aren’t THOSE kids.

    No matter if you’re an icon of good body image, if you take care of yourself, model it to your child, and so on, you aren’t guaranteed to produce a child with good body image. Sure, it ups your odds, but it also ups your odds that during that age range your child will only see you as self absorbed.

    We can only do the best we can, and hope the kids take out of it what we want them to.

    second: I have no issue telling kids they’re pretty, cute, handsome, what ever. NOT telling them seems to me to be just as damaging. This is a society that honors beauty, like it or not. What we can’t do is change that right away. What we CAN do is teach our children that there are different standards of beauty, that they are cultural and not universal, and that beauty can be seen in many different forms if we open our eyes to it.

  26. says

    I think that I was the girl that all the moms here are terrified of their daughters turning into: I started self-mutilating in high school and by college, I quickly developed anorexia.

    I’d use my experiences as a “don’t do this”, but they all boil down to this:

    Treat your daughter the way you’d treat yourself. Or the way you’d want to be treated. I love these 2 sentences, Tricia, because they give me hope.

  27. MizFit says

    FabKate, of course I tell the Toddler all the time she’s cuteadorablefreakinBEAUTIFUL—-it’s a mother’s natural instinct.

    if I work to squech even half of those comments it’s a good day.

    and I also agree with your second half.

    my ROOTS & WINGS comment above.

    That said, I still stand by my thoughts of we need to give it our all even if we dont, when all is said and done, succeed.

    I dont, however, understand this remark:

    Sure, it ups your odds, but it also ups your odds that during that age range your child will only see you as self absorbed.

  28. says

    I saw in my younger cousin such an obsession from her mom to be thin. By the time my cuz was in 7th grade, she had an eating disorder. I think it is so important to relate “health” instead of “size”. My kids enjoy helping in the kitchen and making healthy foods or helping create healthy versions of recipes. I just hope and pray they are comfortable enough with who they are and confident in their size and shape, no matter what that may turn out to be.

  29. ellen says

    here is my list, this is what i am striving for with my daughter:

    BE in the moment with her, listen when she talks, look her in the eyes so she knows i am listening.

    Speak positively about self and others

    meditate, be calm and when i feel the pressure rising give MYSELF a time out. we all need time outs.

    praise her, encourage her, let her know its okay to not get things the first, second or even third time. you just forge ahead.

    we eat healthy veggie food and i am trying to make exercize part of my life for her to emulate, since i didn’t have that. make it fun. we do yoga together and elmocize.

    smile.

  30. says

    I love this post!! Will be checking back all day to read more comments/thoughts…

    I thought your video was spot on and – like many others here, apparently – now wish you were my mother;) I think for me and mothering my own children, volunteer work & service is a large part of the body image equation. It’s hard to feel bad about yourself when you’re seeing how much good you can do for others! I love that you point out the SERVICE aspect, Charlotte

  31. says

    Hi Carla!! Always good to hear/see you!
    As a psychotherapist and intuitive working with women/teens around eating and body issues let me “weigh in” please.

    It’s a funny thing- even if we are consciously modeling positive beliefs and perspectives around our daughters, they tend to pick up our “real” issues around our bodies and sense of self even more powerfully. It’s a kind of energy, almost osmosis. They will often take on our “unhealed wounds” around our bodies, things that we may never have spoken about or consciously expressed around them. But like our pets, our children pick up the vibe more than the words.

    In many ways, the best we can do is do whatever it is we need, to make peace with these places within ourselves. Until we truly love our bodies no matter what shape they are in (I know, believe me- it’s a tall order, but a worthy goal), and learn to not project our fears and judgments onto other women, children will cut right thru our words and absorb our attitudes and fears.

    Don’t shoot the messenger (and I have only sons by the way) but it’s worth spending time sorting out your own pain regarding your body as that is what the kids will pick up.

    In the meantime- yes, be a voice for health, self-acceptance, diversity, love for others etc. Eat well, celebrate your strengths, have fun, play with your kids, and maybe even consider being open with your kids about how it is sometimes really hard to love ourselves. And if you have any spiritual beliefs about being part of the Divine energy, share these too.

    Thanks for your wisdom and strength, always, Carla!!

    Love and blessings to us all-
    xox
    Lisa
    **Check out my new 4-week “Lighten Up For Spring” class to harness the energies of spring for transformation!
    http://www.intuitivebody.com/4-week-lighten-up-with-energy-of-spring/

  32. says

    I thought I always tried to live the code of “lead by example”. I did this at my worksite by doing some of the work I required my staff to do, but forgot to practice this with my family. By getting more in touch with my healthy side and doing a regular workout routine, I’m getting all family members to eat better and exercise without a single word from me.

    I’ve also noticed that the discussion at times focuses on a healthier lifestyle with an acute awareness of foods ingested and their ingredients, exercise examples with estimated calorie burning and avoidance issues such as forgoing a huge cheeseburger at a party for the salad.

    The recent The Biggest Loser show had a huge (no pun intended) example when one contestant Ron, who weighed in over 400 pounds and had an eighteen year old son Mike, that was well over 300 pounds as well as another obese child that was not on the show. The example he set in his household which was emulated by the boys, was actually on the road to killing them. Hopefully now that he sees what it takes, he will work on getting his youngest son to a more healthful place.

  33. says

    Uplifting commversation it is. I’ve been putting off procreating for a few years now because I’ve felt frozen by the fear that I would pass my baggage on, this post and comments are so thawing :)

    I hope that I can surround my future children with people much like the wonderful Bumbling Band, for it takes a whole village to raise a child (African Proverb).

    Rock on Miz!

  34. says

    THANK YOU! for calling attention to the role that those of us who don’t have kids can play. I think it was Barbara Kingsolver who wrote in an essay that when she dressed her infant in pink, strangers would coo about how pretty and well-behaved the girl was, and when she dressed her in outfits with trucks and airplanes, people would compliment how active and energetic the baby was…

    I also found the comments on the last post on this subject to be in some cases deeply sad, and I would like to think our awareness of how lasting an adult’s comments and behavior can be in a child’s memory will impact us all to be a little kinder, a little gentler, a little more encouraging and loving– whether with our own kids or someone else’s. In my own life I work very, very hard on not just praising the little girls in our family for being pretty or well-behaved– too much emphasis on the well-behaved bit seems particularly detrimental to me. Then again, I only have to face the spirited defiance I encourage part-time as an aunty, which probably makes a difference. ;)

  35. Kim says

    OK I am locked out of videos at work and am trying to figure out what you said by everyone’s comments.

    I agree with Fab Kate that it IS important to stroke children for their looks sometimes.

    Especially those who many not receive it other places if they are not traditionally beautiful

  36. MizFit says

    tfh, you KNOW Im gonna google and look for that essay. I love Barbara Kingsolver.

    I used to not love :) in the days before the Tornado when people would dismiss my thoughts merely because I was not yet a mother.

    We are all role models. For friends, partners, spouses, nieces/nephews, friends’ children….

  37. says

    Regarding telling your daughter she’s pretty:

    It’s definitely a DO. The problems arise when parents make that a daughter’s *entire* identity, which attractiveness should never be. Girls who think they’re pretty have more confidence and do better in all aspects of their lives because they’re self-assured and happy, but girls who can’t find any other facet of their lives in which to truly thrive and excel are held back. There’s a balance to be found, as Miz noted.

  38. Sandy says

    I have to chime in on the pretty as well.
    For me it was hearing it from my parents without strings or BUTS.
    Of course I knew I wasn’t the traditional pretty (I have eyes LOL) yet knowing they truly see me as beautiful helped to shape the woman I have become.

    I also like what you said Miz about teaching your daughter not to judge.

    As someone said above it doesn’t mean that she wont judge or be judgmental but at least you’ve done all you can.

  39. says

    I don’t have children, but I young girls draw so much from the world around them as well as their mothers that it’s important that we all be role models. I did something small the other day: I was going to weigh myself at the gym, but there was a preteen girl near me and I decided not to.

  40. says

    I’m certainly not the master of this, by any means, but here’s what I do: I FAKE IT. I fake it with every ounce of my being. I never NEVER never let my daughter’s see/hear me being self critical of my body, worrying about what I eat, complaining about needing to workout, criticizing a food for being unhealthy, comparing myself to others or any of that other ridiculous stuff that goes on in my head sometimes. I ALWAYS encourage them to move and I move with them…dancing though I have no rhythm, walking instead of driving, chasing them around the house with a potholder. In the end, I’m living and breathing so self assured, so confident, too busy living to worry about the rest, and somehow, I actually start to believe it myself!

  41. Laura says

    I applaud the notion of teaching our children that GOOD and SMART and UNIQUE comes in all shapes sizes and skin colors.

  42. says

    I will have to read the above comments later…what a lot to say! Such great ideas!

    It has to be by example. Not putting ourselves down! Not putting others down, even behind their backs! Never shaming people (including them!). Letting them know they’re more than their looks. It’s all important. Feeding our bodies and minds in healthy ways (gym, eating right, reading, etc.).

  43. says

    Gosh, this is one that I struggle with because I have been so unhappy with my own body/looks/hair for so many years and now, having 2 girls of my own, I want them to feel beautiful inside and out. I do praise them often telling them how beautiful they are, but I also tell them how smart, strong, kind, generous and loving they are, too. I don’t want them to focus on their weight. It floors me how many of my older daughter’s middle school friends are already dieting when they are at a perfect weight already. Even though, I battle my weight everyday internally, I make the focus on “being healthy” and “exercising for a strong body” when I am with my kids so that they realize that the reason for eating healthy foods is to keep your body healthy and not to try to achieve some unattainable “perfection” with respect to how we look.

  44. says

    Another great & thought provoking post!!! I am glad I was a stepmom & not a full time mom because I know for a fact that I had lots & lots of issues as I grew up. Yes, the girls were with us a lot of the time but thankfully for them, not all the time! I think between their dad (my hubby), their mom & me (at times), they came out OK but I was not mature enough or knew enough back then. I can’t believe how great they came out! Heck, I still have issues!

    I am definitely going to send this to my 3 stepdaughters & two of them have 7 children between them. Yes, 7 grandchildren for us. They live out of state but when we do visit, both my hubby & I can play & have fun with them & show them that being fit & healthy is good. We don’t have to say it.. we just live it.. but we also enjoy. I am certainly going to take some of your suggestions with me for our next trip there.

    I just try to be me when I visit. I eat my healthy foods but still enjoy. I ask “who wants to do push-ups with me or who wants to walk with me”. Luckily, they are very active already living in Idaho.

    THX AGAIN!

  45. says

    I’m fortunate to live in a small town with few restaurants and zero fast food places. Also, very little exposure to designer fashions. Few people worry with make-up. It’s all about getting outside and being active, hiking, camping, snow sports, bicycling, kayaking, etc. We moved here from a more sedentary big city where anything physical took money and a long drive or a gym membership. I love what my children are learning here. The lifestyle really teaches activity, community, a focus on things less material, and health. It makes it easier to focus on the things that matter.

  46. says

    I love this post and the comments! I don’t have time to add ideas at the moment, but I’ll be back later…

    I agree that we’re all role models for the younger people with which we interact. Which is kind of good news for those of us who are parents, because while the “roots and wings” are a big responsibility, it’s not *all* on us. :-)

  47. Eva says

    I LOVE THIS POST.
    I think it is so important whether we all agree a little or not at all to keep talking about what we can do for the next generation.

    No time to read the comments now so I will bookmark for later.

  48. says

    I don’t have children (unfortunately), but love being the best darn auntie I can. I try to tell my nieces that they are smart and can do anything they want. I encourage and praise their choice to eat fruit, veggies, and salads. We walk together and I comment on how good walking makes me feel. It’s just little things that I hope they will remember. My quest to lose weight is described as my desire to be the healthiest person I can. Great video Miz!

  49. says

    I have to say that the first reason that I decided to start to educate myself and start this journey to lose 100 lbs was simply because I didn’t want my daughter to follow in my frustrated footsteps! I want her to be educated in ALL things including exercise and nutrition.

    We also talk about how it is okay to be any shape, size, color, etc. But we also talk about how “junk food” will make you slow and tired and eventually over weight. We also talk about how we need to eat all the different colors of food so that our bodies get the vitamins that it needs to work the best it can.

    I have to admit that I am still working on being a healthy role model for my children…at least i know that i am headed in the right direction. And i will admit that i still have LOTS to learn.

    Great post!

  50. says

    Video keeps cutting out, but I think I got the gist from the comments. Ever since I had my daughter, the one thing I pray that I do right in my lifetime is not pass on my warped past ED issues on to her. It’s hard. Sometimes I try to be so conscientious about it, that I wonder if that won’t be harmful in itself…is it too much? I want her to ENJOY an ice cream cone or birthday cake without wondering if it will make her fat, but I also want her to make healthy choices most of the time…it’s such a fine line. Or is it? is it just me? I am making more out of this then it needs to be? How do I just BE so she can just BE her AWESOME self?

  51. says

    There are a lot of other influences … the media is merciless on our gender. It sinks in on the most hardened of us from time to time.

    I try to exemplify by being better us’s, that we make ourselves matter is BIG. I try not to obsess on things and even when I doubt myself, I put myself out there these days. Trying and bombing is OK. There’s only up from there. :)

  52. says

    Love this. The only thing I would add is to be (if you can) hyper-aware of outside things, too. I didn’t get my bad body image from my parents; I got it from ballet. Mom didn’t know to correct for that (and who could blame her?), so I absorbed a lot of damage before she had a chance to run damage control. (Though to her credit, once she realized the problem, she did her best to defuse the bomb.)

  53. MizFit says

    AHHH the media thing. Thankfully I don’t need to make the decision now (at least a year Id think) but I do need to think about magazines in the house and what I let the Tornado look at/how we discuss it etc.

  54. says

    I can back up the trying not to give (too much) empty praise. I was raised with constant attention being given to being “pretty”. It really backfired and ended up making me quite obsessed with whether or not I was pretty/thin/attractive (enough), etc. To this day I know that what I look like/how much I weigh is a big deal to my extended family. I will get more comments on a weight loss than I ever got on a real life success. It’s sad.
    I went into parenting very aware of this issue so I probably pay more attention than I might have otherwise. I have two girls and I am astounded at how much of what people say to them (family, friends, strangers) is centered around their looks. It is often the first thing people say upon greeting them… or as a greeting.

  55. says

    I have an 8 year old daughter and I make sure that her (and her friends) have a good role model. We talk a lot about body image too (even her friends). It’s amazing how many of my daughter’s friends think they are fat. And they are 8!!!! I make sure when I hear these things that I have a long talk with them about as long as they are eating healthy foods (and plenty of them!) and get outside to play they are healthy and that’s what’s important. I tell them that they are not fat that they are a normal size for their age. I know my daughter tells me that she thinks her friends are crazy when they say they are fat and she actually sends them to me to talk to them.

    We’re also very important with our daughter that she knows that looks are not the most important thing, but being beautiful on the inside and working hard at school. She’s been figure skating since she was 4 years old and she hasn’t met a sport she doesn’t like, so she’s often found outside with her friends playing tennis or basketball in the driveway. I once caught her and 1 friend playing wiffleball in the driveway. Since there were only two of them, when one of them hit the ball, the next one was up to bat, LOL!

  56. says

    You know, having pondered this for much of the day, I found that there seems to be a direct correlation between some of the things I feel I’m doing right and things I think my parents (mom, dad, step-dad, and 2nd step-mom) did (and do) really well:

    - Provided an example of overcoming obstacles. My dad overcame alcoholism and my mom overcame anorexia. My husband’s and my big challenge is finding a good food-activity balance for being healthy and enjoying life. Oh, and living with diabetes for me.

    - Provided example of making healthy food choices, perhaps even more than I realize. My mom in particular shared my love of veggies, salads, fruits, and healthy dairy, but she also loved her some Haagen-Dasz now & then. All of my parents prepare healthy, balanced meals…I can’t recall sitting down with any of them and not having at least one cooked fresh vegetable on the table.

    - Provided example of “being particular” about what you order in a restaurant. My mom didn’t care for meat, and she often ordered an array of veggie side dishes for her entree. She also ordered salad dressing on the side long before it was “the norm.” With restaurant food being not the most portion-friendly, I’m putting a lot of what I saw her doing into practice.

    - Most importantly, they all fostered the attitude that I could do anything I set my mind to doing. I think they did this through valuing my accomplishments at school and supporting my extra-curricular activities. With our kids, we read with them, encourage them to do well at school (and praise their accomplishments), and support their doing activities they enjoy. They both enjoy taking dance class; our son enjoys taking sports classes…lower key, I feel, than kids’ sports leagues.

    Hmmm, regarding praising their looks…I think it’s fine to praise their looks, but I think it needs to be balanced with praising their actions, too…when they do something kind or accomplish something.

  57. says

    wowsa, when (if?) i have kids, i know where to come to remind myself of the important things!

    its easy to forget how good sponges they are!

  58. says

    I love what you said about “empty praises.” It’s so true. I found that especially true when I was teaching. I tried to give my kids REAL feedback. Not just, “That’s great!” or “Good job!” Those are okay, but kids keep with them the REAL things you say. Like, “You really take the time to figure out those math problems instead of rushing through them. Keep that up!”

    Kids need to hear feedback that doesn’t involve their looks (although I do love to tell my nieces how cute they look all dressed up). :-)

  59. says

    This topic is an important one to me. I have five daughters and two sons. I tell my girls they are pretty, but I also tell them they are smart, funny, etc.

    Recently, I took my younger three kids (Isabella-3, Connor – 2, Cameron – 6 months) to the doctors for Camereon’s immunizations. It was a really long walk (about 2 miles). I used the double stroller and figured that, when Bella got tired from walking, she could trade places with Connor and let him walk while she rode for a while.

    She surprised me by walking the whole way there and all the way back without complaint. I made sure to compliment her on how strong she was and how healthy the walking was for her. She beamed with pride by the time we got home. :)

  60. says

    I dont, however, understand this remark:

    Sure, it ups your odds, but it also ups your odds that during that age range your child will only see you as self absorbed.

    I read blogs all the time where overweight women blame their weight (and inability to loose weight) on their mothers. I’ve been surprised that the number of women who say that they are unable to lose weight because their mothers care of their own bodies. Many of these women have posted things like that they wanted their moms in the morning, but moms were out running, or that the mothers didn’t give them candy and snacks like other moms, making them obsessed with candy or snacks in later life.

    One post in particular (the morning running mom, who left it to dad to get the kids together in the morning) was described as “self absorbed” but quite a few of the other writers said similar things: that the moms who were taking care of themselves weren’t placing the kids first, and that caused irreparable harm.

    I have a lot of trouble with that kind of concept. People who’ve had relatively normal childhoods (and yes that means working moms, divorce, some conflict in the family, and all that… we don’t live in June Cleavers world) can’t take responsibility for what they are.

    Now there are genuinely dysfunctional families out there: Families where there is extreme alcoholism, physical and sexual abuse… families torn apart by domestic violence, and kids who’ve had tough times because of displacement by natural disaster. I’d say those individuals have some scars from their past.

    But I also think that a lot of “My mother did… or didn’t” is an excuse for people who don’t want to grow up and take responsibility for their own lives.

    Carla, I may BE fat because I was a sexually abused child, but I STAYED fat because I didn’t develop the self discipline and self love to lose weight. There comes a point in our lives when we have to say “I’m my own person, I am what I make me”. There comes a time when we have to GROW UP.

    That may happen for different people at different times.

    My point is, no matter what we do in our lives, there are going to be times when our kids think that we aren’t doing enough for them. When we get divorced, they don’t see that you’ve gotten them away from an abusive alcoholic, they see that you’ve broken the family. When you take care of yourself, they see that you’re spending time away from them. When you feed them healthy foods you’re depriving them of the experiences their peers have with food.

    That DOESN’T mean you stop doing it, because at some point (when they grow up) they’ll also realize that these WERE, after all, the right things to do, and they’ll have the toolbox they need to continue their lives.

    The fact that it may take decades for your child to fully understand the decisions you make about their health and well being doesn’t mean you should stop making the decisions.

  61. says

    It’s been a really busy couple of days with the kids – I’ll be so glad when this last week of school is done – so I’m a bit late in reading the comments. As often happens here at MizFit, the comments and discussion which follow the posts take a great post and make it fabulous.

    I have one daughter and two sons. We do what we can to keep them building the habit of being active. Not just official sports either – family hikes and rides, zombie tag at the park, even the occasional hour or two of water gun tag on rainy days. (If they’re going to get muddy, might as well go all out. And be out there with them.)

    With the boys, it’s to keep them from having a 24/7 couch potato mentality. With the girl, it’s more complicated. The attitudes of other little girls play a big part in her image, no matter what I do. Last year, when she said she wouldn’t wear her pink parka – which she loved – because it made her look fat, it really hit home. No matter how slender and strong she might be, one little remark from a classmate wipes away her self-confidence.

    Even if I don’t know the “perfect” mix of praise, encouragement and pushing to instill healthy habits and a good sense of self in my kids, it is really encouraging to read what all of you have to say. I guess it’s that old saying about sharing a trouble cuts it in half.

    And for people without children sharing experiences and giving advice about raising kids? This isn’t like trying to tell a mom how to put her toddler to bed. On children, moms and body image – if you once were a kid with a mom – you’re qualified.

  62. says

    1. Oh, I love your blog, I’ve never seen like this before. It is rather consistent and precise. Nevertheless, I will consider these as other choice or maybe alternative in some way.

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