Saturday, 15 September 2012

For my kids

Autumn is just around the corner - the days are still warm, but there's definitely a chill in the air.  The blackberries and elderberries have started ripening and some of the leaves have started to turn.  I love this time of year.  I'm looking forward to my autumnal weekend runs where I can take in the beautiful scenery.

Today, I took my daughter out for a walk.  We walked just over three miles and though I had to bribe her with a new magazine, she didn't complain and kept pace the whole time.  We even broke into a jog three times.  It didn't burn as many calories as my Jillian Michaels DVD, but it was totally worth it.  I've mentioned before that my kids are like chalk and cheese.  Josh is crazy about sports, always active and he loves it.  Verity generally doesn't like sports, she would happily sit and watch TV all day and not be active at all - plus she loves food.  All of this put together means that I have an overweight child.

Verity has always had a bit of a tummy since she was quite young, but in the last couple of years the "little tummy" has expanded.  In addition to not being very active, she does overeat and this is something that I really struggle with trying to control.  She's 10 years old now and much more independent.  She will regularly go into the kitchen and help herself to food.  It's got to the point now where I don't buy anything that she can snack on.  However, she will still find something - a piece of bread, a piece of fruit, yogurt, etc.

I guess because I feel like now I've got control over my own overeating and my own lack of doing any physical activity that my next priority should be to make sure my kids are as healthy as possible. I know how it feels to be overweight and to just have no energy.  Verity is 10 years old and should have bags of energy - yet today when we went on our walk she was struggling to keep pace.  She should be running circles around me, but instead I was holding her hand in order for her to keep up with me (and I wasn't going particularly fast).

Although I was never overweight, I was teased and bullied as a child (and a teenager!).  We moved to a small town when I was 9 years old and I just never fit in - I guess everyone's way of dealing with me was to tease me.  My nickname in high school was "the freak".  It hurts a lot being different and there were times when I was in high school when I thought about taking my own life.  I don't want my kids to go through anything even remotely similar.  We are blessed in that our kids go to a private Christian school with small class sizes and thankfully Verity hasn't yet been teased about her weight.  But I'm very aware that as the kids get older and start to go through puberty that things could change.  Not only that, but Verity will be more aware of how she looks and I want her to be a confident young lady!

So - this is my mission.  Having discovered for myself how to lose weight and get fit, I'm now focusing my attention on my daughter.  This explains one of my autumn goals - making breakfast for my kids everyday.  I want to teach her healthy habits - breakfast is not a time to have a big bowl of cereal, then a piece of bread, then a pot of yogurt - it's about having a wholesome, healthy start to the day in a right portion size.  In addition to a healthy breakfast, I'm stopping the needless snacking.  This one is going to take some discipline (and hearing like a bat! sometimes she will sneak into the kitchen and eat something while she's in there - I can hear rattling of packaging, so I know she's eating something!).  

I also want her to find an activity that she enjoys.  At her age, she needs to have fun - heck we all need to have fun with whatever exercise we do!  I don't want to force her to do an activity that she doesn't enjoy - but she must get some regular exercise.  And this is where some good family time can come into it - if we find an exercise that we can all do as a family.

This is going to be a learning curve.  It's one thing getting yourself motivated to lose weight - but it's a whole different story motivating a child.  I haven't shared this before because I've been working through in my own mind about how I can tackle it.  I would be really grateful if anyone reading this has any constructive suggestions on how to help.  I love my kids so much and want them to be happy, healthy people.  


  1. I know how you feel. Having been overweight my entire life I never wanted my kids to experience that. My son is a bean pole, like his father, but my daughter is thicker, like me. Now that school has started, I figure she'll be more active with gym in school and dance 2x/week after school, plus she won't be around food all day, since she'll be at school. I don't want to be insensitive, but I want her to be aware that if it gets out of hand, it'll be that much harder. I know I never wanted to hear from my mother that I was fat and I should stop eating so much. I made me want to eat more! Crazy, right? Have you spoken to your doctor about it to ask how you can approach the task at hand?

    1. Thanks for your comment Linda - my son too is a complete bean pole, but my daughter seems to have inherited my thicker frame (I call it "solid German engineering"!). There is a fine line between helping my daughter and making her weight an issue - which I most certainly do not want to do. I've got to be honest and say that I don't have the greatest faith in our family doctor - when I went to see him about my weight last year his comments were bordering on insulting and certainly not helpful in the slightest. GP's in England don't (for the most part) seem to give nutrition it's due - favouring instead prescriptions for whatever the complaint is. I may ask the doctor for a referral to a specialist and see what they have to say.

  2. This is so amazing.
    I was that kid!
    While I did go outside and play with all my friends I was (still kind of am) very awkward and clumsy so I never wanted to play sports.
    I LOVE food and as a child snuck snacks all day and learned horrible eating habits I am still struggling to get rid off. I think it is amazing that you are trying to teach your children smart food decisions!

    1. Thanks Abby! Though I did spend the majority of my childhood playing outside (we lived on 20 acres out in the country), I was not sporty at all - neither was I interested in anything sporty. I took dance lessons - but these stopped when we moved to the country and I never really pursued anything else. Now, of course, I wish I had because trying to discover a love of physical activities later in life is a real struggle!

      I agree - if I can succeed in teaching her healthy habits now, it will last her for the rest of her life :-)

  3. Hey Mary! First of all let me tell you I don't have any children of my own but in 2010 I was an au pair (a nanny!) in the States and I feel this post as if it was my own. "The blackberries and elderberries have started ripening and some of the leaves have started to turn.". That brought me a great memory of the time I spent with my 3 kids over there.

    2 of the kids I was taking care of were rather chubby. The other one was extremely skinny and as he had ADHD and was running here and there all the time you could see his abs so badly. Anyways sometimes it was complicated to explain to the kids (4, 5 and 7 years old) why I wanted to go for long walks with them and why I wanted them to eat salads instead of McDonalds. But I think it was a good thing that I did it anyways despite their complaints. I think it is important for kids to be healthy because it is HEALTHY. The social aspects of it might be something we need to have in mind but for me the most important thing was that they were healthy (or at least healthier than when I got there).

    Unfortunately I couldn't see that on myself and gained several pounds while staying there. It wasn't until a couple of months ago that I got rid of the weight I gained there.

    Anyways your daughter looks gorgeous and so do you! Congratulations on your decision of helping your kids with their health!


    1. Thanks Emilio! And well done on your positive influence for those kids in America! It's very easy to gain weight when you move to a new country (I'm living proof of that as I only gained weight when I loved from the States to England!) - there's a multitude of factors that cause a weight gain, but well done to you for losing those extra pounds :-)