Monday, July 20, 2009

Tricky

Does anybody out there have teenagers? I'm trying to get them to age 18 without major weight OR body image problems, without the benefit of a beautiful food culture like France's (I went on exchange as a teenager and they do really well with food over there). My 17 year old son is 6'2" and about 180 and looks more or less trim, but he's a little obsessive, and I worry that he takes it all a little too literally. My 13 year old daughter is 5'8 1/2. I don't know what she weighs but she wears a six-- I'm guessing maybe 135. So they're both fairly normal in terms of weight and my main goal is to get them to 18 in that condition. The hard part is-- what do I tell them? How much do I control intake? Except for cheat days, we don't stock a lot of junk except for fudgesicles and chocolate (chocolate being a necessity for girls past the age of menarche, in my opinion). I keep tons of fruit on hand. My daughter loves carbs as I did at that age, where honestly I think your body is trying to collect nice healthy childbearing fat. She stays active (basketball team, goes outside to bike, swim and shoot hoops). She's also model-pretty, though not model-thin. Part of me would like her to participate in the power and perks of being absolutely flaming gorgeous, which in this culture requires that you're also very slim (for her, maybe eight to ten pounds lighter). And part of me recognizes that's stressful and unnecessary. Part of me is scared because she has a perfectionist streak and could easily take that ball and run with it. And part of me gets that it is none of my damn business.

My job is to pass on unconditional admiration and reasonably healthy eating/exercise habits. I do okay with that part, the tricky bits are-- do I raise my eyebrows when she has two helpings of dessert at her friend's house? (We don't usually do that at our house, Cheat Day excepted of course.) Do I mention that exercise, while healthy and helpful, won't burn off huge portions? Do I keep my mouth shut no matter what? Some of these weight loss/disordered eating blogs kinda stick it to the moms, who are blamed for a lot-- sometimes fairly, sometimes I'm not so sure. On Escape From Obesity, the blogger's mom used to make (diet) food for herself and not give any to her hungry 7 year old child. Now THAT will cause some disordered eating. On the other hand, I read one woman who blamed her weight on her mom's "one sweet thing a day" rule, which evidently caused her to lust uncontrollably after desserts. Would it have been better if Mom gave her unlimited access to the Pinwheel cookies? I have to try to find my way the best I can, which so far is-- emphasizing lots of activity and filling up on healthy foods and letting the weight fall where it may. That's my overt text. My subtext is more complex and probably less healthy. Would love to know how other parents handle it.

Today (because the memory part of my brain never worked well):

5 mins recumbent bike (what's with the dang thing, can't get my HR up at all)
4 sets of 20, for a total of EIGHTY, tap squats, 10 lbs in each hand
4 sets of 20 chest flies, ditto ten lbs
bagged my core till later (never know how long dad will be on the treadmill)
I think it was 12 minutes on the recumbent bike. I was reading. Somehow I'm not convinced that really qualifies, but I wanted to do something different.

3 comments:

  1. Larkspur, I am struggling with a similar issue. In fact, I keep trying to figure out if I am going to write a post on it. I wish I knew the answers, but I don't. Good luck.

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  2. It's a tough issue that's for sure. One thing that used to bug the beejus out of me was when my mother would serve up huge portions to my dad and brother and then half that for me and her, and then make a point of noticing when I went for seconds. I think one of the things to do is to make healthy eating and portion sizes etc second nature within the home so that huge portions outside the home become odd.

    After doing the WW thing, I now look at friends who load up their plates and wonder "how the heck do they EAT that much?"

    But I don't have all the answers, that's for sure. Good luck!

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  3. @ stayingoncourse, that would have driven me batty too, even though it kind of makes sense. I try not to notice/comment on second portions of healthy stuff. My daughter's active, she probably needs it, and we all know by now food intake is not quite as simple a calculation as we used to think. She's not overweight and she may be fueling a healthy metabolism for life.

    I remember when I was a teen, we would shop for our own groceries (my mom got sick of making four different meals)-- my brother had a $5 higher budget, and I was grudging in admitting that at 6'2" he might need more food than me. I was so tuned to, "He got more than me!" The truth is women don't generally need the portions men do, and with my son, I am more interested in seeing him build muscle than lose pounds. But the overall effect feels kinda sexist. Isn't there a Chinese proverb, "Men should eat, women should sleep"?

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