It’s no mystery that I like to think, and this means I really like thinking about thinking, and figuring out “why”. Day after day after day I see a lot of stuff written and complaining about women’s poor self image and how it puts them at a disadvantage for living healthy lives. These negative mental patterns are also a direct threat to self esteem, implementing their own self-care and maintenance, and most of course, any “weighty issues.” Lately, I’ve been trying to figure out why so many people were having hang-ups with certain things.
I’ve been able to sidestep a lot of issues because of an unfair advantage—and I’ve only very recently figured it out—that Mom has given to me. And no I’m not talking about genes here, but those do help. And I’m not talking about that terrible phrase, “omg you’re soo lucky to be skinny” which is a real backhanded non-complement. Mom gave me an edge, and I’m not entirely sure she realized it at the time—all through my childhood and even teen years. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t realize it now, but I know sometimes she reads my site, so this might make for a fun phone call later today! This post should also make you realize the importance of offhanded comments to any kids in your life, and your peers. One of the things she said was so bizarrely powerful that when I shared it with someone my freshman year in college, they’re STILL referencing it now nearly 18 years later?! Mom, Happy Mother’s Day and I hope this post lets you and all mothers know that you’re very powerful in the lives of your kids!
So, how have I been able to sidestep body issues, serious weight issues, and a whole lot of the usual “female body angst” that is all to prevalent these days? The rest of this post will outline a few of the offhand remarks which over the years “accidentally on purpose” gave me an unbeatable edge. Let’s start at the beginning:
There’s a popular near-meme surrounding Barbie that pops up on Facebook and around the internet with some regularity. Actually I can remember this controversy being an issue when I was pretty little, but all it got from me was a shrug, and a “really”? Here’s why:
Me: Hey Mom, why is Barbie shaped like that?
Mom: It’s so she looks normal in clothes, the velcro and snaps are bulky!
(And as everyone knows those snaps were darn near impossible to snap.)
Following that small exchange, it never occurred to me that I had to be shaped like Barbie… I mean, I have knees that bend and feet that change shape, my clothes fit and aren’t incredibly cumbersome, so what’s the problem? Right. No problem. Thanks, Mom! Amusingly, for whatever reason that translated into how I saw supermodels. Granted, they were a little more wholesomely shaped (think Cindy Crawford) when I was a kid.
Speaking of models… from elementary school age onward, I knew that catalog and advertisement photos for clothes, etc weren’t what they seemed. At one point one of Mom’s friends got her sons get into tv commercials and modeling. Mom’s friend suggested we give it a try. At one of the very few shoots I was hired for, even as a child, I was quick to note some of the photographic “smoke n mirrors” at play. But, what absolutely blew my little mind was when one of the women who was modeling a swimsuit turned around and I saw no fewer than 30 clothespins all over the back of her swimsuit, making it fit just perfectly from one angle—the angle of the camera. Mom and I have had a good laugh about that for years and years. And from that moment I’ve forever doubted photos in magazines and catalogs. So, even before the era of mass photoshopping, and all manner of digital manipulation, I knew that pictures in magazines and catalogs were never what they seemed. It didn’t occur to me that those illusions were something to aspire to look like. As a kid in the 1980s, I had seen with my own eyes that even the models themselves don’t look like they look in magazines. Thanks, Mom!
Speaking of magazines… most of my close friends know how I have been known to snark about the goofiness of grocery-store women’s magazines… With articles that likely cause more insecurity and strife than anyone cares to admit. When I was a young teen, I remember Mom and I talking about such a magazine and she said, “Don’t read the articles, they’re not really appropriate, but I like the outfit ideas!” And that’s always been my approach to women’s mags… “These articles are trashy, but hey I like that shirt!”
Mom also taught me about posture, and inadvertantly the related proprioception to be in control of how I sit and stand. Granted, a lot of that really improved by about 1,000x when I began to get really serious about kettlebells, tai chi, qigong, and lifting. At the CK-FMS, and while working with Primal Move, I began to see even more reasons of why good posture is vitally important to all of our bodily systems. While I’m not trying to look like a ballerina (how unconvincing would I be?!!?!?!!?) the fact that I’m not putting myself at constant risk of injury is priceless. Posture deserves your attention – and if I’m coaching you and am cueing you to keep your shoulders back and down, and not to “chicken neck” at the top of the swing, it’s a pretty good guess that I’m hearing Mom’s voice in my head saying “shoulders back!!”
Obviously cooking was important with our family, and even BEFORE the Food Network got a lot of guys into cooking, Dad was a big part of culinary endeavors (saving further elaboration for the Father’s Day post). But, Mom taught me by example the importance of a good nutritous meal, always including plenty of protein and fresh vegetables. As long as I can remember, Mom has been trying new recipes (we were even a test kitchen for one of Mom’s groups’ cookbooks), and paying attention to the nutritional content of our dinners. So, from an early age, I knew that this was also important and paid attention to it. I can even remember in what must have been the mid-80s Mom remarking that eating too much starch or sugar was going to cause excessive weight gain—even though we weren’t making an effort to be low carb or restrict calories at all.
She was really ahead of her time with that, along with debunking a bizarre (and what must have been a sugar council ad) magazine advertisment claiming “sugar is a diet food” because it “only” has 18 calories per teaspoon… oh how the mind boggles at such things. Thankfully, I had Mom to debunk ads like that, which of course has inspired me to call into question other bold claims made by advertisements over the years. Thanks, Mom!
Mom has also provided an incredible example of casual mindful eating, and healthy self-regulation. After hearing me come downstairs and open and shut the refrigerator door a few times, I remember Mom asking me if I was actually hungry or just bored. At the time, she was absolutely right, I was actually needing to take a break from homework to clear my head. So if you’re working towards fat-loss and find that snacking has gotten a little out of control, make sure to ask yourself when you’re tempted to eat something that you probably shouldn’t… are you actually hungry or are you bored? A short walk, an “exercise snack” and a glass of water might actually be what you really need. Thanks, Mom!
So these simple ideas have really been an advantage over the years (and there’s actually many many more, but you should be spending time with your family instead of reading my blog so I’m going to stop here for now.) Have a Happy Mother’s Day!