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Will I Pass on Poor Body Image Issues to My Baby?

Jason and I have been working pretty hard all week on our New Year’s resolutions.

In addition to cutting out our nightly wine habit and attempting to crack down on our screen time, we’re eating clean, exercising and are both already feeling the positive effects of our new healthier lifestyle.

My dreams have been so incredibly vivid — I’m talking major motion pictures in my head each night.  I also rise in the morning now with more pep in my step and am feeling more creative and productive than ever.

As for weight loss, I wasn’t really planning on checking in until the end of the week. But not Jason — he just couldn’t resist taking a little peek.

“I’ve already lost four pounds in just three days,” he chirped gleefully from the bathroom the other day.

“Well, you can go **&*%*^*,” I whispered under my breathe, while blending myself a kale smoothie.

Am I bitter? Yup.

Instead of losing weight, I’ve managed to gain 1.2 lbs on account of bloating. Just great.

Here, my significant other looks like Marky Mark in the new SAXX underwear I got him for Christmas, while I look six-months pregnant.

How is that fair?

Now before I get flooded with a barrage of angry comments, let me start off by saying I know that I am by no means overweight.

However, I don’t feel comfortable in my own skin right now — my body doesn’t feel like my own.

Who’s to blame? Nobody, except this 33-year-old Valley Mom who has been indulging in more than her fair share of chardonnay, salt and vinegar chips, Costco hot dogs, delicious cheeses — all that ‘good’ stuff that has gone straight to my hips.

Just the other day, I went to put my bathing suit bottoms on and couldn’t pull them up past my thighs.

“Did you shrink my bathing suit?” I asked Jason, while doing a little dance to squeeze my bootylicious bottom into it.

“Uh… you haven’t worn that since the summer, so…  I haven’t touched it,” he replied tactfully.

Yes, it’s time to make some changes in my life — I’m no longer than skinny 20-something who could dance all night while chugging cheap wine, make the 2 a.m. McDonald’s run, go for a calorie-laden brunch the next morning, sleep all day and still look and feel fabulous come Monday.

I thought I was doing a great job of concealing my inner angst, but Molly proved me wrong while sitting on the potty.

“Look at my legs mum,” she said, pinching her barely-there chub. “I’m getting fat… it’s so wiggly!”

It took a few minutes for her words to sink in. Once they did, I burst into tears and had to leave the bathroom.

“Please God, don’t let her be like me,” I said to myself and then later to Jason.

Since birth, our little waif has been on the smaller-side. At 5.5 year’s old, the scale now finally tips 30 lbs — what a roller coaster ride it has been to get some meat on her wee bones.

Speaking of extra meat, the word ‘fat’ is banished from our household. We are constantly telling both our girls how beautiful and special they are. When Zoe pokes at my belly and says that it’s getting really big, I tell her mommy is perfect the way she is — whether I believe it or not, that’s  my response and always will be.

Prior to having children, I promised Jason I wouldn’t allow our future daughter to fall victim to the same weight insecurities I struggled with.

In the past 10 years, I’ve come a long way. I can workout and watch what I eat without it becoming my vocation.

Being the thinnest person in the room is no longer a quality I strive for. Jason no longer listens at the bathroom door, wondering whether he should take it off the hinge.

To be honest, I love my new curves and respect my body so much more since having children. I simply just want to get out of my sweats and into pants that don’t have an elastic waistband. I want to feel more energetic and youthful. I want to feel pretty again on the inside and out.

Even with my new-found positive outlook on my body image, we worry… but this time it’s not about me.

Have I already failed Molly? Will she grow up hating the way she looks? Will she start exercising rigorously in attempt to burn calories at the age of six? Will she violently shove her fingers down her throat so she can rid herself of any nourishment? Will she get addicted to that same numbing high that comes from days of starvation?

Please tell me no. I don’t think I could take it.

A few years ago I wrote a Pink Laundry column on this same topic, which I have shared below.

 

Be Careful What You Share

~ as published in The Langley Times

Covered head-to-toe in spaghetti sauce, my toddler was in dire need of a bath. Her infant sister, who somehow managed to get her dinner between her toes and down her diaper, was also in need of a good scrub.

Into the bath they both went. Plunk. Plop. Splash, followed by an eruption of giggles.

“Look at my big fat tummy, mommy,” said the proud toddler, her little protruding belly covered in bubbles.

“I’m such a big girl, now.”

Mirroring her older sister, my younger girl patted her stomach and let out a squeal of delight. I couldn’t help but admire her perfectly plump baby flesh, all soft, alabaster and dimply.

It was a moment I wish I could freeze for all time. Both of my daughters so happy and healthy  — naive to society’s unrealistic standards regarding body image.

And completely oblivious to their own mother’s descent down a dark, dangerous road, not long ago.

I was a child myself when I decided that I hated my body.

While I was never actually overweight, my prepubescent body disgusted me.

Every time I looked into a full-length mirror, I picked myself apart — a ritual I learned from my mom. She is a beautiful, intelligent woman who has never been at peace with her body, a trait passed down from her own mother.

I lapped up every detail about the latest fad diet or workout routine she was on, and I did 150 sit-ups a night.

I was 11.

teddy pic

This is me on my 11th birthday.

 

Looking back, I now recognize the signs of what was to come. But at the time, nobody noticed, myself included.

In my early 20s, my obsession with having the “ideal” body reared its ugly head, coinciding with my upcoming wedding and my grandmother’s death.

I began to focus on improving my physical appearance  — I was just a few lost pounds and laps around the track away from happiness. Or so I thought.

When excessive calorie restriction and exercise didn’t produce the dramatic results I sought, I resorted to purging everything I ate.

I was successful the first time I shoved my fingers as far down my throat as I could manage, violently heaving up the muffin I’d eaten earlier that morning. I was hooked.

And so began my destructive dance with disordered eating.

By definition, I didn’t have bulimia nervosa, nor did I have anorexia. I was lost somewhere in between, wasting away —quite literally.

 

stag

At my lowest weight of 121 lbs at my stagette. I was 23.

 

 

Very few friends and family knew what was going on. It was so easy to slip under their radar.

While my weight was at an all-time low, so was my sense of self worth.

A trip to the dentist revealed seven cavities —  likely a casualty of excessive purging. I was weak, constantly light-headed and unable to focus on anything but the number on my bathroom scale. Just the mere mention of food was enough to trigger a full-blown panic attack.

Deep down, I knew I was destroying my body and, possibly, my relationship with the man I was about to spend the rest of my life with.

Luckily, I managed to muster up the courage to reach out for help. Even more fortunate — I got it.

Back in 2005, while reading the classified section of The Langley Times, I came across a listing for an eating disorder support group organized by a Langley woman named Andrea Roe. Roe had overcome a six-year battle with her own eating disorder and had just published a book documenting her journey to recovery called You Are Not Alone.

Joining the group proved to be one of the best decisions I have ever made.

There were six of us — women of various ages and backgrounds — who met at Roe’s Brookswood home. We clicked right away as we purged ourselves of our fears and anxieties.

Slowly but surely, I was able to recover. I am one of the lucky ones.

While I still struggle to appreciate the reflection staring back at me in the mirror, today I am at peace with my body. Maybe not 100 per cent, but I do appreciate the remarkable journey it has taken me on, including my two pregnancies.

 

preg

I love this picture so much. This wasn’t staged – Molly wanted to show off her belly too. ~ Peggy Wynne Photography

 

When I do get the itch to scrutinize myself or ask my husband: “Do I look fat in these jeans?” I try to remember that my two young daughters are like little sponges, always close at hand, listening and soaking up every comment I make.

 

One of Vancouver’s top Mom Bloggers, Kristyl Clark is a work-at-home mom of two little Valley girls proving there is nothing bland about the burbs. Her adventurous family seems to always be out on some sort of crazy quest, from helicopter rides and wild river rafting, to top-secret paranormal investigations and living the high-life sampling the fine wines and foods of the Fraser Valley region. The ValleyMom.ca blog inspires her loyal fanbase through the trials and tribulations of suburban family living, guiding readers to local hotspots and hidden gems in her Canadian backyard

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