To my Daughter; on Food and Fitness

I warmed up my leftovers from our midweek, impulsive dinner date the night before. The microwave beeped. I walked over and took it out, salivating from the rich flavors of the vegetables and cheese. Glancing at the bowl of greasy chicken and sauce, I reached in the fridge to grab a bag of mixed greens for a side salad. I love a good salad. I’m one of those weirdos who throws chicken, fruit, and pretty much anything I can find in the pantry on a giant salad and calls it a meal. I’m not on a diet, I just truly like it. I looked down, pretty proud of my balanced lunch and instantly thought about my eighteen month old toddler sleeping in the next room. I wasn’t looking at the time to see when she would be awake from nap,

I was wondering if she would have a good relationship with food when she was older.

I know that probably seems like a weird thing to think about, silly even. I wondered if fifteen years from now she’d be forcing herself to eat a salad for lunch. Not because she loved them, but because she felt like she should or needed to. My mind wandered, thinking about what she’d see in me as she gets older, how closely she’d watch my eating habits. I wondered what she would think of the thoughts I had about my body. What kind of example of health and fitness I would be to her. What I want her to see now and while she’s growing up.

As a parent, specifically a mom of girls in today’s culture, I have a feeling you know exactly how terrifying those thoughts are.

Kayla Braaten Photography

I also have a feeling you think them as well.

Do you know how incredibly gut-wrenching it feels to pray over your child that she likes food? That she uses it to fuel her body for activities and doesn’t bat an eye when she wants to eat 2 brownies in one sitting. That she works out because she loves the feeling, not because she’s punishing herself? Still fresh from my own workout, I thought about my daughter’s relationship with food, fitness, and her body. My head buzzed with what kind of example of these I want to share with her. I thought about what words of encouragement and self-worth I want to speak into her life daily. Lately, I have been incredibly intentional about being active. I lost a lot of my muscle tone throughout pregnancy and postpartum. Muscle tone I have been proud of and worked hard for, for years. My current goals are not to lose a certain amount of pounds. I don’t want to diet or restrict my eating. I’ve been there, I’ve worked through that and I don’t want to hate food either. I don’t want to count calories or think about how many jumping jacks I have to do for that snack in order to give myself some kind of twisted permission to eat it.

And I don’t want my daughter to either.

I want to be strong and fit. For my daughter. For my family. For my quality of life. For myself. I don’t want to obsess about working out, rather make it a priority. I have the time and can MAKE the time. I can carve out a piece of my day because it matters to me. Because selfishly, in the most positive of ways, I want her to see that. I want to be an example of balance and intentionality. 

I want her to choose what works for her because it makes her strong.

I want her to love great-tasting food and eat the fudgy brownies and know that a huge part of caring for herself means to move. I can’t control what mixed up genetics my body may have passed to hers and her mind. But I can be an example of habits and passions, and knowledge to her. I don’t have many fears of her standing up for herself, her personality already makes that clear;

But I pray she can stand up to herself.

I pray she is responsible and respectful of her body and her relationship with food.

I pray she works hard for what she wants, both mentally and physically.

I pray her values include herself, her health, and her motivation.

I pray she celebrates her strengths.

I pray that her self-talk builds her up, not tears her down.

I pray that she sees food for it’s value and what it can do for her.

Most of all, I pray I can be an example of all of this to her; through all my flaws with my heart, carrying my own strengths and weaknesses to transparently teach her.


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