I’m posting this in both the On Health and Fitness column and the Choose HER column because I think is a very important post for women of all ages. How we portray our outlook on our own health, fitness, body image, diets, and lifestyle choices to our daughters has a profound effect on how they view themselves. If you’re like me, you struggle with a lifelong battle with dieting. It’s a constant focus and an up and down fight with equal parts victory and failure.
But, here’s my question: Is that what God intended for us?
And here’s another question: Do our daughters deserve the weight of that legacy?
No. No. NO.
But what do you think happens when our girls watch our back-and-forth dilemma over every bite we eat? What do you think they feel when we don’t want to go out on Friday night because we have nothing to wear? How do you think they feel about us when we can never relax and enjoy a nice meal including dessert? And how do you think they feel about themselves when we refuse to put our insecurities aside to spend a day at the beach or a water park with them?
And how will they feel about themselves at our age?
And how will their daughters (our granddaughters) feel about watching the cycle repeat itself?
Because it will.
In order to break the cycle, we need to be intentional about speaking life into our daughters. They will learn that we love ourselves and them; or they will learn that we’re unsatisfied and unsuccessful…and ungrateful. So here’s my list of ten things you shouldn’t say to your daughters, and what you should say instead.
Don’t say: I’m so fat, I wish there were a pill I could take to make it all go away.
Do say: I’d love to trim up a bit so I can be more active. I’m researching healthy ways to do that. Want to help me?
Don’t say: I can’t eat that. A moment on the lips; a lifetime on the hips.
Do say: A whole serving might not be the healthiest choice for me right now, but I’d love to taste yours.
Don’t say: Sorry, can’t hang out right now, I need to spend two hours on the treadmill.
Do say: I’d love to hang out, but I had planned to exercise. How about a nice, long walk together?
Don’t say: I hate her! She’s so skinny! Must be good genes.
Do say: Nothing. There’s no need to make comparisons or draw your daughter’s attention to someone else’s looks.
Don’t say: You sure you want to eat that? I was skinny like you once, too.
Do say: For health reasons, you might want to check the serving size.
Don’t say: Yes, I’m going to wear these ten-year-old sweatpants to your school. Why bother dressing up? It’s not going to help.
Do say: Give me a second to put on something nice.
Don’t say: No way am I going to my high school reunion. All those skinny women…how humiliating!
Do say: Of course I’m going to go. How else could I show everyone pictures and brag on my kids?
Don’t say: Sure. We’ll take a beach vacation after I lose twenty pounds.
Do say: We’re going to the beach with no electronics–a day just for us!
Don’t say: Sorry sweetie, genes are cruel. You’re destined to have hips just like mine.
Do say: I think it’s great you’re focused on health and fitness already. You’re destined to have a healthy, active life.
Don’t say: If only…
Do say: I’m so grateful to God for my health and beauty…and for you!
How about you? What things have you said, then wished you could take back? What’s the positive alternative?