Being healthy didn’t come easily to me. But I knew when I got pregnant, I had to get it together.
Though my parents did their best and were exceptional parents in many ways, healthy food preparation was not in their skill set. The advent of boxed mac and cheese and other “ready to go” meals in the 80s and 90s prepared my body for what I would call “continuous poor diet choices” as an adult.
My version of a healthy meal used to be a chicken breast with the cheap version of Shake N Bake, boxed alfredo noodles, and maaaaybe microwaved vegetables. Maybe. And while this isn’t potentially the worst meal, it wasn’t the most ideal if we’re talking about holistic wellness. Plus, this was a rarity. I was often eating frozen pizza with extra (and I mean extra) cheese on top, every day.
In addition to poor diet, I had a severe lack of wanting to be outside, ever. Walking? Forget it. Bicycling? Too hard. An actual physical sport? I’d rather die. The sun, the wind, the rain, the bugs, and every other outdoor element? I would avoid it.
However, with the addition of children, parents start to look at their lives in a different way. I certainly did. Not only was I trying to figure out how to home and clothe a kid, but I was constantly thinking about how to make changes in my personal life so that I could set a better example.
We all try to heal generational trauma, and even though I feel incredibly lucky that my burdens are minimal, the ways in which my parents were impacted in their childhood had an impact on how they raised me.
My mother had a father who was constantly critical of her weight. She wasn’t even big. I look at pictures from her past, and she’s just a regular sized kid.
My grandfather was constantly telling her that he would give her a dollar for every pound she lost. She didn’t want us to feel those damaging effects—always feeling like you’re not good enough because of your weight.
She did a full 180 to my grandpa in the way she raised us. She let us eat whatever we wanted whenever we wanted to eat it. She never commented on our size. She never made us feel like our weight had anything to do with who we were.
Because of this, we were kids that felt good about ourselves, were confident in who we were becoming, and grew up into successful and well-adjusted (for the most part) adults. But my siblings and I have issues managing our weight. For me, I think it will be a lifelong struggle, but I’m overcoming more of it every year. The big difference is that now, I also exercise regularly and eat nutritious foods.
I don’t resent being a plus size woman. I am not frustrated by it, I actually embrace it. But, if I have the power to not pass along my mother’s trauma to my daughter, then I am going to do my very best to ensure that I don’t.
So in addition to rearranging our house to make space for this new baby, we rearranged our diets and our familiarity with the outdoors. My partner, Kevin, and I became active. Hiking (easy ones only!), bicycling, and walking around the neighborhood every day… We made sure that no matter what the weather looked like, we would get our butts outside. We even went on a walk in the rain just the other week. Still actively doing outside things over here!
Our meals are almost completely homemade. Kevin even cooks our own bone broth. We eat lots of vegetables and fruits and conscientiously raised proteins. We are trying to show our daughter how to live and we are leading by example, not just telling her how and then hoping she does it.
At the end of the day, I do not care if my daughter is 130 pounds or 330 pounds. I just want to make sure that she enjoys the taste of a fresh vegetable, loves herself unconditionally, and is always interested in going on an evening stroll with her mother.
I want to give her the building blocks for a healthy lifestyle. And if she chooses to use them, fantastic! And if she doesn’t choose to use them, I will love her exactly as I do today and every day hereafter.