• Your Mother, Your Weight

    February 15, 2011

    Good morning! :-D

    Getting out of bed was really rough this morning. I stayed up to watch the crazy chicks on The Bachelor, so now I am totally exhausted. I need to start going to bed earlier.

    Breakfast

    Today’s breakfast was mushy mess of oats, quinoa, canned pumpkin, banana, and ground flaxseed meal with a big scoop of peanut butter. It was very filling.

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    On the side, I enjoyed a glass of iced coffee with soy milk.

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    Disclaimer: If you are currently struggling with an eating disorder or in recovery, and weight is a sensitive issue or may trigger you, please skip the rest of this post.

    The other day, while peddling along on the elliptical, I stumbled upon an article in this month’s SELF magazine called “Your Mother, Your Weight,” which explores how mothers influence their daughter’s attitude toward their bodies. SELF asked mothers and daughters from three families to share their body gripes and insights. They prove that the ties that bind go far beyond blood connections.

    The article made me think about my own relationship with my mother and how she influenced the way I feel about my body. Overall, my mom had a very positive affect on my attitude toward my weight and body image. I’m sure my sister would say the exact same thing.

    Growing up, my mom never really talked about her weight. Frankly, she had more important things to worry about, like paying bills and putting food on the table. Plus, both of her jobs (cashiering and cleaning cars) kept her on her feet all day long, so she didn’t really need to worry about it. I mean, she moved nonstop from the time she woke up to the time she went to bed. My mom was probably too tired to care about her weight!

    As a family, we never openly talked about weight or body image, but here are some lessons that I learned from my mom:

    • Eat based on what your body craves. My mom said she never really worried about what my sister and I ate as kids. Even though we ate plenty of junk food—Pop Tarts, Little Debbie Snacks, and TV dinners— my mom never criticized our choices. She trusted that we’d eat based on our cravings and set a good example for us. If my mom wanted to snack on some tomato slices, she would. If she wanted a bowl of ice cream, she’d go right ahead. My sister and I observed my mom’s eating habits and emulated them.
    • Eat based on what makes you happy. Dessert makes my mom happy, so she enjoyed (and still enjoys) it almost every day. Clearly, I’ve adopted this habit from her. Life is too short not to enjoy dessert.
    • Appreciate your body’s athleticism. Growing up, soccer was a huge part of my family’s life. My sister and I played from the time we were in elementary school until we graduated from high school. My mom was always at our games to congratulate us and praise us for our hard work. Being able to perform well on the field was much more important to her than being a certain size. 

    Question of the Day

    Did your mother influence the way you feel about your body?

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    { 151 comments… read them below or add one }

    chelsey @ clean eating chelsey February 15, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    My mother definitely influenced the way I think about my body. My mom is a vegetarian and when I was younger, I definitley watched this – low and behold, I’m a vegetarian now! My mom also lost weight using Weight Watchers when I was about 15-16. To be honest, I could have lost some weight too, so I did it with her. Looking back, it probably wasn’t the best idea because now when I add up the “points” I realize just how low the calorie intake is on Weight Watchers. I think if we would have focused more on “whole foods” and “eating right” it would have made the world of difference!

    I try not to critique what the Husband eats (he definitely does not have the same eating habits as me), but I can tell you he is definitely getting healthier from just watching what I’m eating and doing the same!

    Reply

    Christine February 15, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    Tina–your description of your Mum sounded like mine. She was really busy juggling all the responsibilities of being a working mother of three kids and I never saw her put much attention toward her body image, weight, healthy living etc. Once her kids started to get older, she began exercising regularly, eating healthier, and showing confidence in the beautiful woman she is. Now that I’m an adult, we share a lot of the same healthy lifestyle habits.

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    Natalia - a side of simple February 15, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    Both of my parents have always been very health conscious and involved in staying fit. They both workout regularly and live active lifestyles in general (hello, five children), and eat pretty healthy, so they’ve certainly influenced me to do the same. We’ll have desserts and sweets and indulgences, but they really have taught me the simplicity of balance, moderation, and fueling your body the right way.

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    jen veak February 15, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    wow! yes, this is true! my mom always had us on diets, she too was on them, but she was always (and still is) thin…but not athletic! She has never liked her body, skinny legs and bigger bust. I have my issues as well. I struggle with eating “bad” sugary foods, my mom loves sugary foods too…I’m trying to eat healthy, yet I find that I indulge a little too much in some foods…HOWEVER I’m a triathlete and I sometimes workout more to eat more…not really a good combo…but I’m working on it and my MINDFULNESS for everything…I’m trying to CHANGE my influence…I need to go have a cookie now :)

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    Joanna B February 15, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    Interesting topic. I think about this pretty often, but not so much with just my mom, with my family and ancestors in general. I study human behavior and inherited patterns so this is a cool topic for me.

    What I have noticed is even a correlation to the way my grandparents ate, they grew up during WW1 and WW2 in rural Poland. I notice myself rationing out my food to have just enough and I feel guilty when I have to throw food away. Growing up my dad would say things like, “You’re being picky and there are people starving in the world, you don’t know how good you have it.” We did have a home-cooked meal on the table every night and going out to eat was only for special occasions. I now cook almost every single night and rarely go out to eat. I belong to a food co-op and get raw milk and prefer to eat veggies and meat straight from the farm. Growing up my parents always had a garden, although my brother and I both live in condos we both have plans to get kale plants this spring.

    It’s pretty much inevitable to pick up patterns from our families. What’s even better is to notice the patterns/habits good and bad and make conscious choices to break them or keep them.

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    dana @ my little celebration February 15, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    my mom did influence the way I feel about my body, mostly in a positive way. I attribute my passion for exercise and healthy eating to her and my dad as they were both excellent examples of that while I was growing up.

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    Val @ Balancing Val February 15, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    absolutley!

    My mother was overweight almost her entire adult life. She ate her feelings and had no confidence.

    Growing up I didnt realize that I did the exact same thing. I never expressed myself and I never had self-esteem. I was just copying what she did and it ended up making a mess later in life.

    I owe a lot of my body image issues to my mom but I cant blame her forever. I have my own life now and I am responsible for getting past it no matter how hard it may be.

    :)

    Reply

    Steph February 15, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    This is my situation to a T, so I know how hard it is to accept yourself at a higher weight than you’d like or to feel like you’re totally out of control. While it certainly doesn’t make me feel good that other people have the same struggles that I do, it is inspiring when I see that other people are able to overcome them!

    Reply

    Mara @ What's For Dinner? February 15, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    Growing up, my mom struggled with an eating disorder. She was 5’11” and weighed about 120. Food was sacred in our house, and by sacred I mean “not to be touched or abused” much like any other sacred object. I often joke that as my form of rebellion in high school, instead of drinking or doing drugs, I got fat. It annoyed my mom more than I think it would’ve had I been stoned all the time.

    Her comments about my size/weight stuck with me, and I struggle to this day.

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    Daisey February 15, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    Good question. My mom was a stay at home mom. We always ate home cooked meals, mostly healthy meals. Eating junk hardly ever happened, it was expensive! LOL. Growing up my siblings and I were all very thin. Partly due to genetics, partly b/c we played endlessly outdoors (I grew up in the 70s and 80s). My mom never really said anything about our eating habits. I’m trying to be the same way with my kids. I don’t talk about my weight but I cook healthy meals and workout and try to get them to play outdoors as much as possible. My daughter says she wants to run marathons “like Mommy”. I tell her one day she will and let it go. Goes to show she notices and that’s all I can do. :)

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    Amanda February 15, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    Growing up my mom was very strict and made sure I ate healthy foods. However this made me feel deprived since we never went out to eat or had many sweets in the house. In the end I craved them more. When I was with my friends i’d over indulge. However since I was very active I still only weighed 100ibs. In college my weight caught u with me and I gained 40ibs. When I was 120 (a healthy weight at 5’2 she made sure I knew I gained weight and to watch it). My dad and brother teased me too. I didnt change my eating habits until August 2009. Me and my husband did it together — he lost 70ibs and I lost 25ibs in a year. We are up a little bit weight wise but our eating habits are a million times better. We basically had to relearn how to eat. While my mom did influence me I was able to find my own way in the end.

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    Annette February 15, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    My mom influenced the way I eat because she always always made home-cooked meals, had healthy snacks available, and really ate whole foods. I didn’t even know what white bread was until junior high (because my mom either made or bought only whole-wheat breads!!) ;) I am grateful for her good example!

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    Doc February 15, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    I agree with the article. Unfortunately, my mother’s influences were negative. She continues to suffer from, and refuse treatment for, eating disorders and tells me that I’m ‘too fat’. Currently she’s vegan, which she uses as an excuse to not eat all day. I have to actively work to not judge myself or spiral into obsessive behaviors every day.

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    melissa February 15, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    Unfortunately, my mom had the opposite effect on. Her obsession with weight and dieting (which continues at age 64) led me to have a serious eating disorder and two hospitalizations. Thankfully, moving away for college helped me move past it, gain 40 pounds and have a much healthier relationship with food. I’ll never love my body, but I won’t let an obsession with food take away my life.

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    Christine (The Raw Project) February 15, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    Interesting, I was watching What’s Eating You on E! recently where a girl who struggled with an ED for 18 years blamed her mother for overly criticizing her weight as a teen. My mom was also very casual about her weight, too busy working and taking care of other things to make a big deal about it. The influence of her casual view towards it helped me recover from disordered eating in high school because I wanted to be able to not think about it and have it consume me.

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    Heather @ Get Healthy With Heather February 15, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    I think moms totally influence how their daughters think about weight. I know for me my mom has and i’m so glad about that too.

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    Kelly February 15, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    Growing up I was always given options with food, and allowed to make my own decisions. My grandmother had taken a job working at dunkin donuts and because of my sweet tooth and my grandmother’s love for me, I had begun to gain a decent amount of weight. My mom didn’t want this to become an issue, so rather than making my weight the focus she said “you can have as many fruits and vegetables to eat as you want, but only one donut a day”, I was still allowed a few cookies or snack with lunch, but only one donut and it was up to me when I enjoyed it. To this day, I still follow this rule. I do my best to eat healthy, and allow myself a treat or two a day. My mom was focused on eating right, but also focused on enjoying the different foods out there. To include the occasional McDonalds treat. She taught me that the key is in moderation. I think it’s the best thing out there!!!

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    Christina February 15, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    My mom definitely had an effect on the views I have on my body. In my house it was sort of confusing. It went from eat all your food, or else. To, wow you sure made up for lost time, you shouldn’t eat anymore. The signals were really all over the place but she never in fact talked about her own weight or about eating habits. I knew what was “good” to eat and what was “bad” to eat. As an adult I try not to dwell on how it affected me growing up (clearly it was sort of negative) but what I can learn from it now. I address food differently now, I eat what I crave and I don’t limit myself. I notice I do eat less but now I’m working on portion sizes. For me portions are the hardest part to learn.

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    Kristen February 15, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    I cant wait to read this article. My mom has struggled with being over weight her whole life, and now I am having the same issues……very interesting- thank you for posting!

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    Ashlee (Ash & Lew Plus 2) February 15, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    My mom played a large roll in the way I looked at myself. I grew up being overweight until I graduated from high school. My mom was always very thin and could eat anything she wanted (i.e. pop tarts and honey buns) and stay thin. When she started to gain a few pounds as I was older she would criticize her body which in turn made me feel bad about myself because I was larger than her. It wasn’t until I stopped worrying about her eating habits and body and focused on myself that I changed my eating habits, started exercising and became the healthy and active person I am today.

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    Christin@purplebirdblog February 15, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    My mom was thin and petite, and I’m broader and a bit heavier and always have been. My mom constantly had me on a diet as a child and was always “sprucing me up.” She bribed me to pluck my eyebrows when I was 11, had me get my first highlights at 12, my first pedicure at 14… but never in the name of fun or having mother/daughter bonding time… more along the lines of “fixing me.” It came out after my mom passed away that she had a pain pill addiction, and I wonder how much that had to do with a lot of this. It haunted me for a LONG time, and only in the recent few years have I been able to forgive her and realize she was doing the best with what she had, and in letting go of that anger I have been able to come to place of peace and love for myself. If I ever have a daughter (or a son for that matter) it will be SO much different.

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    Katie @ Pop Culture Cuisine February 15, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    My mom had a definite influence on the way I eat and think about food, not always in the best way. Now I don’t blame her, because honestly for the most part I think she thought she was helping me. In junior high I had a bit of baby fat still and while I started to work out, I also started to grab ahold of some pretty disordered eating habits that I thought would help me lose weight. This started years of yo yo diets, crazy habits, and often diets she might be trying to. She thought she was being supportive by allowing me to eat this way, instead of teaching me to eat more intuitively. I think what was the worse was how she really had so many of her own food rules and foods that were off limits, foods she would get mad at my dad for eating on occasion, a habit I unfortunately notice in myself at times. I try to just be more aware of this and realize that I enjoy food and all food and in moderation it is fine. It is definitely interesting how much affect they can have on us without us even realizing until much later. I am pregnant now and I want to be aware of this and how I eat and behave around my children, because I know they are always watching!

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    Lisa February 15, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    Hmmm…I had the opposite experience. The negative voice in my head (still to this day) criticizing what I eat and how much, etc, is still my mom’s voice. Not good.

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    Anne February 15, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    Despite struggling with an eating disorder for nearly 12 years, my mom has spent the rest of her life dedicated to Eating Disorder Prevention and Awareness + Positive Body Image – writing a book, appearing at countless schools and teen girls conventions and encouraging both my sister and me to love our bodies exactly as they are!

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    lauren @ spiced plate February 15, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    Thanks for this insightful post!

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    Amelia February 15, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    My mom was and is pretty weight-obsessed, but it actually affected me in the opposite way from what you’d think. Rather than following in her footsteps, I am happy with my body. I look and feel good at the weight that I am, and know that losing weight or achieving a particular number would not bring me a level of happiness that I don’t already have.

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    Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin February 15, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    I love my mom, but her insecurities with her own body definitely influenced how I felt the way about mine. Growing up she was always on a diet and criticizing the way she looked, which made me feel bad about myself. Luckily I’ve formed a much more positive self image in the past few years, but she still struggles with it. I wish there was a way I could help her feel better about herself!

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    Alyssa February 15, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    Yup, my mom was weight-obsessed. Both of my parents were, and that meant they focused on MY weight (since my brother was a stick). Which made ME obsessive, which then translated to Bulimia in college and anorexia in grad school, followed by years of binge eating and dieting, along with over-exercising.
    I’m 41 and finally coming to grips with it all. I just hope I’m in time so that my kids (my daughter, especially), don’t learn to hate their beautiful bodies.

    (I, too, stayed up late to watch the Crazy Bachelor Women. Is it wrong that I was glad to see Michelle go? ‘Cause she seemed like the craziest of the bunch!)

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    Hannah February 15, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    Like you, I’m incredibly lucky in that my mum has a wonderful relationship with her body and has never once, in all my life, talked about weight or diets or bad/good foods at all. I’ve still had some issues of my own to work through, but her attitude towards food and health is inspirational to me.

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    Lindsey @ Morningstar Project February 15, 2011 at 7:23 pm

    My mom played and still plays a huge role in my thoughts about my weight. There was always the underlying message that being “thin” is what we should strive for. She instilled a great love of eating and working out and striving for a healthy life – all good things. But still to this day her first comment when she sees me (I live on the opposite coast) is about my weight. Like, “Oh you look good, you look happy!” So happiness has always been equated to weight loss, but slowly I’m revamping that thinking as I get older.

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    Brooke @ Bittersweetb February 15, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    I think it is almost impossible for a mother not to influence her daughter about weight if not by talking about it then leading by example. My mom definitely influenced and still can influence how I feel about myself. She is a nurse and very conscious about healthful eating but is not immune to snacking or eating junk food. Maybe I misinterpreted her sometimes but I felt I had to be healthy in front of her all the time which made me feel deprived so I hid food. I didn’t want her to tell me how bad it was for me because I already knew and didn’t want to feel guiltier than I already felt. Overall your parents have an influence on you no matter what and sometimes they influence you in ways they never intended. I love my mom and I’m finally realizing she doesn’t have all th answers and right ideas, she just did/does the best she can, and thats all I need.

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    chandra February 15, 2011 at 8:53 pm

    My mom is a paramedic, so growing up we weren’t allowed a lot of junk foods in the house very often, we usually ate pretty healthy. Carrots and peanut butter was one of my favorite snacks growing up! Aside from being healthy, she was also always about being strong, especially as a female and a single mom, so I definitely think I’ve adopted that from her (finally!).

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    Nessy February 15, 2011 at 8:55 pm

    I love my mother so much, but I feel she has often been too critical of my weight. I am by no means overweight, but as soon as I gain a few pounds she can tell and immediately says I need to eat less. Over the past few years I have developed a binge eating disorder due to food restriction based on my mother’s criticism. With help I am now finally making great progress and am feeling much more confident about myself. I do feel that mothers really influence how their daughters feel about their bodies.

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    Steph February 15, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    my weight obsession and body image stems directly from my mom. as early as i can remember i always thought that my mom thoughty i was fat–based on comments, looks, her obsession with her own weight, her highly critical nature. everytime i see her i am in constant fear of being critized for my weight (among other things) and the funny thing is she just told me to stop obsessing about my weight and worry about how i am not married :-). my mom is a great person with a lot of great attributes and a large part of me really wants to have a rational discussion with her but it probably wont happen! ok now i want to go read everyone elses comments. I LOVE CNC

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    Rachel @ Healthy Teacher February 15, 2011 at 11:28 pm

    My mom taught me to have a colorful meal and taught me about balance from an early age. My family also encouraged all kinds of physical activity, so I love it now. I don’t dread the gym or going for a run like people who maybe didn’t grow up that way, with it being a positive thing instead of a punishment for eating too much.

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    Mac February 16, 2011 at 1:05 am

    My family has never really commented on body issues, luckily I have always been pretty fit so I have never had any major self-image issues. Like all women I have a thing here or there that I would love to change. My boyfriends family, however, is very vocal about weight and people being “fat” and that is hard for me since I have come from a family where saying those kind of things has always been considered rude in my house. I know I cannot change his parents ways, thankfully he doesn’t say those things, but I am continually dealing with the situation.

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    Nerys A. February 16, 2011 at 1:08 am

    Hi, how are you Tina? I just want to say that I love to read you everyday! Your blog is very inspiring! I also got a blog where I write about what I eat, like a Online Food Journal.

    Well, my mom is one of the most beautiful women that I have ever know. She is very hardworking and she always puts her family first than her. But the main thing that my mommy had taught me is “to love yourself like the way you are”. She is overweight, but she feels sexy, she feels beautiful, she feels strong and that is the image that she reflects to other people. In my childhood I had struggle with my body image, but with the time I have learned to accept and love myself. And even I am in a plan to lose weight, I want to do it because I want to be more healthy, not because I want to be more beautiful. I already am beautiful. Thanks mommy for that valuable lesson.

    Greetings from Panama!
    (Sorry for my english)

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    Teague February 16, 2011 at 4:35 am

    definately! my mother was an avid runner, and still is at 52! She motivates me to get my butt out of bed. If she can make homemade meals and exercise while looking after 2 kids and a house then i should be able to as well!

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    Lindsay @ The Reluctant Runner February 16, 2011 at 6:28 am

    My mom and my sister had body issues and it really influenced my relationship with food and my body. I was really, really thin as a kid, but I wanted to diet because my sister was dieting. Then as I gained weight through puberty (and much more when I became depressed in high school) my mom constantly pointed out that I was gaining weight. I mean, duh! But she never tried to help me or get to the root of why I was suddenly huge. Then, when I lost weight and was smaller than her, she was really bitter about that. She’s clearly not a very nice person. Now I’m just trying to be as healthy as I can despite the attitudes and habits I learned as a kid.

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    C February 16, 2011 at 7:26 am

    First, I love my Mom!

    I grew up on diet food. My Mom has been watching her weight since the day she took me home. I can’t remember not having a “only fruit in between meals” rule (that was definitely broken all the time). I remember eating Jenny Craig cheese puffs. I remember hearing my Mom constantly say how fat she was, and how much she hated this and that about herself. I’m adopted and she would always say how adoption is a beautiful thing because I wouldn’t look like her.

    I think my Mom is beautiful and I love her so much. It’s always made me sad to hear her talk that way, and I will now cut her off and tell her how I feel when she starts.

    I was definitely influenced by all of this (I think). I had a lot of serious body image and eating problems for about ten years. I can’t blame my Mom, she never said anything negetive about me and thought I was beautiful my entire life, but I can’t deny that it influenced something.

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    school loans for single mothers February 16, 2011 at 10:41 am

    There’s nothing better for a child’s upbringing than having a great Mom that makes you feel wanted, needed and loved. With some of todays single moms that about all they can offer. there’s Grants and scholarships that don’t need to be paid back for single moms that want to go back to school. Go moms!

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    Richelle February 16, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    I agree that our mother’s and also our fathers influence how we feel about our bodies. My mom was always thin and made negative comments about “fat” people. She got this from her father. My father was and still is unhappy with his body. He is always talking about new diets and how you should eat. It’s no wonder I develope an eating disorder.

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    Beverly February 19, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    Ok girl, speak to me about quinoa! I have had a box in my cupboard that keeps getting pushed to the back. For some reason, probably a lot of posts I’ve read about how gross it was, I’m a bit fearful of it! Why?! I’m not sure really.. .but tell me how you use it.. how you cook it… give me Quinoa 101 please!!!!!!!!!?
    BTW… if u don’t quit posting all those adorable pics of Murph I’m coming to Boston to kidnap him. LOL J/k but honest to God he just makes me smile with every pic u post. He has personality galore!

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    B February 18, 2012 at 8:45 am

    This is my first comment on a blog. Ever. I felt the need to share this. Thank you for your time.

    My mother was a very beautiful, slim, strong, athletic woman who had her only child at 37.

    Until I was 4 I was raised on the Pritikin diet (no fat, no sugar, no salt, very little dairy – popular in the 80s/90s), and she fought hard to get her pre-baby body back healthily, with great success.

    Family circumstances took a turn for the worse, and her weight followed, and by the time I was 8 or 9 we, as there was only the two of us, had been on every different diet plan in her quest to regain her youth, her vitality, her desirability. I vividly remember her crying frequently about her weight, despite never being larger than an Australian 14 (the national average), labeling herself ‘fat’ and ‘disgusting’ and always ‘not her real self’. I remember hugging her and telling her that I thought she was beautiful. She never listened and I could never make her feel better.

    I am almost 5’8″ and have been this height since I was about 12, I was a reasonably active kid and inhaled my food, often eating more than a grown man. Despite never being even remotely chubby she would scold me for having another helping of vegetables and brown rice, asking me if I wanted to be the size of a house. At the time it was hurtful, in hindsight, a down right dangerous thing to say to a child who already has body image issues.

    I hit puberty at 10, was a DD cup at 13 and struggled with it immensely. At 5’7.5″ I was about 140lb through most of my teens, an Australian 10-12, with all the weight in the chest and hips and a tiny flat stomach. I hated the way I looked. I hated being ‘womanly’ when all my friends were gangly teenaged girls. Men may like women with a more curvaceous figure, but teenaged boys like teenaged girls. And it is no consolation to the ‘womanly’ 14 year old to tell her that all the boys will grow up one day and think she’s beautiful. Especially as the only ‘womanly’ person I knew, the one telling me these things, was the same woman I hugged on a weekly basis as she cried on the bedroom floor because she was fat and men were looking at her 14 year old daughter and not at her.

    I hated the way I looked, I hated the way I felt when men looked at me, and I drank a great deal to cope with it and life in general, I was an unhappy child.

    I stopped drinking for a month when I was 16, and I lost 4kg (9lb). I felt so amazing about myself after that, I just had to have more. I began exercising with a great fury, at least an hour and a half five times a week, and eating what I can only estimate in hindsight as about 1000 – 1500 calories a day, many of which were contained in the litres of vodka I was drinking. By the time I was 20 I was under 120lb, which for some my height is a perfect weight, but I looked ill. I still had a DD cup chest, but there were bones everywhere. I was so happy the day that my BMI calculation told me I was underweight, it was, in fact, the only thing I was happy about. Through this whole time my mother tried to feed me chocolate cake, told me I was too skinny, not eating enough, spending too much time at the gym, running too far, pushing too hard. I would scoff and work harder, just to prove that I could.

    Some time later whilst struggling with a fairly severe alcohol and drug dependence I was stalked by an ex-boyfriend and slowly lost my mind and my physical health in its entirety. I was prescribed a variety of medications and hormonal contraception just so I could get through the day, a major side effect being sleeping for 18 hours, immense metabolism slow down and attendant weight gain. I estimate I put on over 30lb in less than 2 months.

    I was heart broken.

    My weight gain was out of my control; and I was so dosed up on anti-psychotic medication I didn’t notice it. I woke up 2 days after discontinuing meds, excited that I felt I could leave the house at last, went to the wardrobe to get some clothes and nothing fit. Nothing.

    My body was alien to me. This thing that I had sculpted with blood, sweat and tears, that I had treated with such contempt whilst having such high expectations of it, that I had taken for granted because it could do the things I wanted it to do…it was alien to me. It jiggled. It was soft. It was squishy.

    I felt not only let down by the medical profession who had promised me emotional relief by diagnosing me and prescribing medication to alleviate the symptoms, but outraged that their cure had only succeeded in making me 30lb overweight. I was still depressed, I was still an alcoholic, I was still suicidal, I was still a hormonal wreck due to psycho-somatic manifestations of some serious angst about ‘femaleness’ as whole and then the ill-advised attempts to control it with hormonal contraception; but I was not the one thing they had determined me to be. I do not have and did not at any point have bi-polar disorder.

    So I walked away from my life, in it’s entirety and started again.

    A very very very long year later I am within sight of my healthy goal weight, and not overly concerned with numbers on the scale. I have a pair of pants that I like. I know how they used to feel, I know how want them to feel again. I can do them up. I can sit down with them on. On a good day if I squint at the mirror I can almost believe I am there. On a bad day I throw the pants at the wall and cry because I still think I am obese despite all the effort I have put in and struggle with feelings of overwhelming futility and self-loathing. Every month the number of good days increases and the number of bad days decreases.

    I’m sober.

    I’m vegan.

    I practice yoga.

    I’m a non-smoker.

    I’m training for a half-marathon.

    I’m a doctoral candidate, getting my PhD in a field I am wildly and phenomenally passionate about.

    I am stronger than I have ever been.

    To tie this inordinately long comment back to the key issue, what I know now, that I did not know before, is that though my experience with my weight was certainly linked to my mother’s experience with her weight; her struggle and her issue is not something I need to shoulder any more.

    My weight struggle is my own. For it is only when I take responsibility and ownership of it that I have the power to change it.

    It is important to assess the impact of our history. We are the sum of our experiences after all. But I feel it is more important to learn from our own mistakes rather than the successes or failures of others. I now choose to sculpt my body with sweat alone, to treat it with respect and compassion, to expect of it only the best it can do on any given day and to fuel it the best way I know how.

    I choose to treat my body this way because it has broken.

    I have seen it break.

    I broke it.

    And then I put it back together.

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