The future of girls

31 Mar

As I sit and drink my morning coffee, I’m reflecting on a fitstudio chat on twitter, an article Jillian Michaels tweeted, a news blurb I listened to on NPR, a traumatic day at school for my youngest niece, and my role in all of this.

Yes, this blog will focus on the female gender not because I’m biased but because I am one and I’m a role model for two nieces that are my world.

Empowering Kids with Healthy Choices was the topic of Wednesday’s fitstudio chat on twitter.  As always, it was a great chat with lots of great tips and advice.  Towards the end of the chat, we started discussing role models for girls and how we could be positive role models for the girls in our lives.

One way I do that is to never say, “I hate my_______” or “I don’t like the way my ______ looks”.  I feel that we as women need to embrace our bodies and our unique, incredible bodies that the genetics in our families have helped to create.  I have my paternal grandfather’s nose – he has been gone for quite a few years….but every time I look in the mirror, I’m reminded of him and the role he played in my life.  I have feet like my maternal grandmother…..and just like my Mom and grandmother, if I gain any amount of weight, it will go to my stomach.  All of these unique things make me part of my family.  If I say I don’t like myself or a certain part of my body, how are my nieces going to think positive about themselves?

Jillian Michaels tweeted about an article that had been written by Dara Lynn Weiss about the difficulty of dealing with obesity and her 7-year old daughter.  You cannot find the article online but you can find lots of articles that have been written in response to her article.  I’ve included a few links at the end of this post.

Because of our society’s focus on weight, there’s another BIG issue that comes up.  The NPR news piece that I listened to was discussing the statistics of eating disorders.  Now obesity is an issue that we need to address, BUT I’m very concerned with the unhealthy thinking that can occur in people’s minds and what some are willing to do in order to be “thin”….Notice, I said “thin” and not “healthy”.  Eating disorders cause all kinds of unhealthy emotional and psychological issues and unhealthy relationships with food that people will struggle with the rest of their lives. Many eating disorders happen as a result of a teasing remark or negative role models…..what is disturbing to me is the amount of girls in elementary school that are on diets.  Our little girls should NOT be dieting….the word “DIET” should not even be in their vocabulary.

This hits home for me because over a week ago my youngest niece was in tears after some negative, hateful remarks were said to her on the playground.  She is 11 years old and is not obese or overweight.  No, she is not stick thin…she is just a typical pre-adolescent girl.  She was in tears when she was picked up from school and it affected her for the rest of the evening.  Her mom and dad did their best to un-do the negative, mean remarks but I know that as a child you don’t easily forget those statements made to you by your peers.  Thankfully, my niece is surround by great role models and very positive adults in her life; and, hopefully, we can be a louder voice of influence than the boys on the playground at her elementary school.

I can speak from experience because I was a chubby pre-teen and always struggled with my weight.  I did get some teasing remarks from people but my family never withheld food from me or told me I should diet.  I think a lot of my “problem” was that I was not active…I would rather sit and read a book than go outside and play.  Should my parents have made me?  I don’t think so.  Now we did things as a family – and my Mom always cooked very healthy (we were eating wheat bread before it was popular to eat wheat bread) and always had fruits and vegetables.  As I entered my mid-teens, I took it upon myself to be more aware of what I ate and starting becoming more active.  As a result, I discovered my passion for fitness and nutrition and that is why I’m so passionate about educating and empowering women to be their best.

I think as role models for our girls we need to lead by example…..get outside and be active with the children in our lives.  Teach them that we don’t go on diets but we make lifestyle choices.  Refrain from taking them to fast food restaurants.  Take them to our local farmer’s markets – plant a garden together.  Show them how fun it is to move our bodies….biking, skating, rollerblading, sports, swimming, kayaking, etc. The choices are endless!

Another thing I’m very adamant about is keeping certain magazines out of the hands of our girls….and maybe out of our houses totally.  We need to remember that most pictures are digitally modified and that most females DO NOT look like that naturally.

I want the girls in my life to realize that the world is a big place full of opportunities for them and that food is meant to be used as fuel to help them be their best mentally, physically, and emotionally – that is why we make certain food choices.  I want them to dream big and use their creative, intelligent minds to do amazing things in the world.  I want them to know they were created for a reason and that they are able to make a difference in someone’s life, in the community they live in, and in the world.  I want them to know there is no one else in the world like them….that they are unique and need to embrace that.  I want them to know that their self-worth is NOT based on a the size of any article of clothing that they wear nor is it based on what society says is beautiful.

Two girls that are my world are my nieces – Eleighna is 17 and will be graduating this year.  She is thoughtful, kind, compassionate, talented, beautiful, has a tender heart – she sings like an angel and is learning to play the piano.  She goes with her youth group to a nursing home and sits and plays games with the residents.  She is a faithful, loyal friend. Morgan is 11 and is vivacious, energetic, social butterfly, talented, beautiful, athletic, speaks her mind and has strong emotions and a great sense of humor 🙂  She has fun, beautiful hair that can get crazy wild – and I hope she always appreciates that fun, spunky, crazy hair.  Two amazing girls – two very unique girls – and I want the best for their futures without any of the negative self-image junk that can happen as a result of unhealthy mindsets of food and fitness.

I will always be an advocate for the healthy future of girls.

Here’s a few other women that I feel are vital and important for the future of girls:

www.lisajohnsonfitness.com

www.tobyamidornutrition.com

www.freakingfitness.com

I hope you will check out their websites and follow them on Twitter.  Let’s be healthy role models for the girls in our lives!!!

Two articles that discuss the Dara Lynn Weiss article:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/hayley-krischer/vogue-mom-writer-child-diet_b_1384845.html

http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2012/03/28/dara_lynn_weiss_s_obese_child_vogue_essay_can_parents_ever_talk_about_their_kid_s_weight_.html

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