Fit Not Thin and What Are We Telling Our Kids?

The other day in the gym one girl told another she used to hate her thighs. Now I hear this self loathing talk fairly often but this young woman was maybe a freshman in college, but more likely in high school. Both women wore shorts and sleeveless shirts so it was easy to see they were both athletic and fit looking. The positive note was that she used to hate her thighs because they were muscular.

Recently a woman asked me if my thighs got bigger from running and spin class. She wouldn’t attend spin since someone told her it would make her thighs bigger. Another well-meaning relative told me not to do a workout by a popular fitness instructor because she had big thighs and I was sure to get them as well.

My thighs did not get big from doing the workout video nor did they get big from spin class or running. They did tone up quite a bit and I have more muscle definition. I don’t consider that a bad thing, it’s nice to see the results of hard work.

That  young woman and I both have the same thought: our bodies can do amazing things. These legs have run over a dozen half-marathons, hours of running practice, 5Ks, 10Ks, and cycled hundreds of miles. I can squat, lunge, and dead lift weights.It makes every day life, such as picking up a child, dog, or groceries, a heck of a lot easier. It’s also empowering.

Which is the gist of what I told my niece when she was 8 and said to me, “look how big my legs get when I sit down.” At 8 years old! After showing her that everyone’s legs did that we talked about what she liked to do and how being strong helped her accomplish that.

Which leads me to wonder what messages we’re sending to those around us, including children and teens. Would you rather they viewed themselves as strong, fit, healthy, and capable or as slaves to the scale and worried about looking too big? Do you express verbally or non-verbally unhappiness with your weight or your body? Kids notice this and mimic that behavior.

It helps to talk positively about what you like about yourself. Praise your kids for what they accomplish and the effort they put in, rather than focusing on how they look.

What makes you feel fit and healthy? What do you like about yourself?

Need help with eating in a way that supports you and your lifestyle? One where you can feel fit and healthy? Email me at janinemchale@gmail.com to see how I can help you.