I was on my elliptical one night last week while my oldest son Skyler was watching cartoons. My twins were asleep so I figured it was the perfect time to get some extra cardio in before bed. After about ten minutes Sky comes over to me and asks what I am doing. I told him that I was exercising and in typical four year old fashion he asked me why. It was a simple question but I had to pause before answering because this was the first time that someone had asked me that.
I guess when people look at me it is pretty obvious to them why I am exercising. I am grossly overweight. Until three months ago I was completely unfit and unhealthy. I need to exercise. It’s obvious. But to my innocent four year old, there is nothing wrong with me. His view of his Mommy is completely untainted by my extra belly fat or the weakness of my knees. In his little eyes I am perfect.
To be loved unconditionally is a priceless blessing, one that I receive wholeheartedly from my son. It is one of the many irreplaceable gifts of motherhood. But with it comes a huge responsibility. I set the standard for my children. I show them what a woman is and what a woman should be. What they see in me will affect the way they treat women, the way they value women and ultimately the type of woman they choose to have in their life.
After allowing that to sink in I had what was probably the most significant epiphany of this journey so far! This whole weight loss thing is so much bigger than me. It’s about so much more than getting skinny. It’s about so much more than wearing fashionable clothes. It’s not for vanity. This journey is about being the best Mom to my precious children. It’s about being the best role model, the best example of what a Queen should be. This journey is NOT just about me.
When I think about the women in my family the reality hits me that 90% of them are overweight. My mother is overweight. My grandmother (maternal) was overweight and each one of her four children have been overweight most of their adult life. I am the youngest of three children and all of us at some point have been overweight as well. I remember my grandmother telling me that I couldn’t help but be “fat” because it was in my genes – an excuse I used for years to justify being gluttonous and lazy.
But my grandmother’s theory may not have been too farfetched after all. In the July 2004 issue of the Journal of Pediatrics a study was published that identified overweight parents as the greatest risk factor for child obesity. This study monitored 150 children and their parents from birth until age 9.5. At the end of the study researchers found that 48 percent of children with at least one overweight parent were overweight themselves by time they reached age nine compared with 13 percent of those with normal-weight parents.
Some may want to dispute these figures but it makes complete sense to me. The habits of overweight parents are often passed down to their children. I know this from experience. I lived it. My mother has never been active. I have very few memories of us playing sports together or going for walks, bike rides or anything of the like. Our leisurely activities were shopping, getting our hair done and eating take out. And I’m not bashing my mother for it, it’s just the reality of our relationship.
The sad part is that I have been perpetuating that same cycle with my own children. I have avoided physical activity. Taking Skyler to the park or to ride his bike has always been a burden. I would constantly be exhausted after only a few minutes of outdoor activity so we spent much more time playing inside because that is more convenient for me. Every outing includes food of some sort and I’ve always used candies and snacks as my bribing tools.
It’s time to call a spade a spade. My unhealthy habits will quickly become unhealthy habits for my children if I don’t check myself and change my life. The bottom line is that I have a cycle to break. So to answer my baby boy’s question… Mommy is exercising to be healthy. Mommy is exercising to be fit. Mommy is exercising to be the best woman she can possibly be. Mommy is exercising for you son.
After searching my soul I’ve accepted that being a successful mother is the most important thing I could ever accomplish. Being a healthy, happy and whole mother to my children is by far the greatest reward of this journey. It motivates me every day to make better choices because I know that with each one I am creating a wholesome environment for my children. I found my why! What is yours?