I found it hard to focus on the Jennifer Weiner novel I was reading while Isabelle was in dance class yesterday. Three other moms were gabbing while our daughters were dancing. Their conversation was almost identical to the one they’ve had the past few weeks. It focused on their weight. All three were dieting (perhaps as a New Year’s resolution). All three were, admittedly, depriving themselves of food they love in an effort to shed pounds. All three were craving food. All three have been on my mind since last night since I know how hard it is to diet when you feel hangry.
One mom, who talked about using different and smaller bowls and plates so she could eat less, said her daughter was curious about her dinnerware changes. She swore to the other women she doesn’t talk about her weight in front of her daughter. While I was thankful for that, I did notice she was conversing about her weight in front of her young son. (And we wonder why some men in society contribute to some women having negative body images. I believe we have to be just as mindful of the things we say around boys as we are with girls. But that’s a topic for another blog post.)
I weigh a lot more now than I did when I got married in 2007. Maybe it is because my metabolism slowed down once I turned 30. Who knows? I am a mindful eater who tries to eat healthy foods. For instance, I drink a green smoothie every morning. I have been gluten-free for over a year. However, I don’t count calories or obsess about everything I put in my mouth because doing so makes me miserable.
The only way I’ve found to counteract my love of cooking and baking is to exercise regularly. When my daughter asks why I’m exercising, I explain doing so helps me feel strong; it gives me more energy. I edit my desire to shed pounds from my rationale. I’d much rather Isabelle understand I exercise to feel good about myself rather than doing it because I don’t like the way I look.
I’ve accepted — although I don’t love — that my arms, tummy, and thighs are not as taut as they were in my 20’s. They may never be “perfect” again since plastic surgery frightens me. Therefore, instead of paying attention to calorie counts, I prefer to look at my exercise stats from the month that’s passed with pride rather than regret.
Yes, I keep stats — the old-fashioned way, not with a FitBit — last month. (I have considered getting a FitBit. If you have one, please convince me why I need one.) Here’s what I accomplished in January:
Elliptical: 9 sessions for a total of 366 minutes.
Pilates: 7 sessions for a total of 305 minutes.
Swimming: 7 sessions for a total of 2 miles.
I’m not the first, nor will I be the last, person to write about body image. I wonder what would happen if everyone reframed the conversation for themselves. Instead of berating ourselves for overeating, what if we were more mindful about the food choices we made? What if we indulged and were thankful for treating ourselves rather than guilting ourselves into an extra 30 minutes of cardio. And, what if we exercised for the sake of living a longer life and having better internal numbers (e.g., blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.) rather than worrying about the number on the scale?
I am a literacy consultant who focuses on writing workshop. I've been working with K-6 teachers and students since 2009. Prior to that, I was a fourth and fifth-grade teacher in New York City and Rhode Island.
I'm the author of Craft Moves (Stenhouse Publishers, 2016) and the co-author of Jump Into Writing (Zaner-Bloser, 2021), Welcome to Writing Workshop (Stenhouse Publishers, 2019), and Day By Day (Stenhouse, 2010).
I live in Central Pennsylvania with my husband and children. In my free time, I enjoy swimming, doing Pilates, cooking, baking, making ice cream, and reading novels.
View all posts by Stacey Shubitz
19 thoughts on “Different Stats”
When we focus so much on ourselves, there’s so much navel-gazing that we miss the wider focus. We miss not just seeing things but also so many experiences–going down a slide with our kid for fear of being laughed at, enjoying dessert at the nicest restaurant we’ll go to all month, and rolling around in a massive tickle fest. Maybe each time we breathe, we can breathe out some of our need for perfection, because I really don’t think losing the last 10 pounds is worth the sacrifice. Actually, make that 20.
Nice, thoughtful piece. I enjoyed it!
You’re so right, Kate.
I remember, several years ago, hearing the quote “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” after I had lost all of my baby weight from having my daughter. I laughed and thought that there are plenty of things that taste better than skinny felt. (Even though skinny felt nice.)
We HAVE to be kinder to ourselves. I truly believe that what’s on the inside (i.e., personality and our bloodwork stats) matter more than what’s on the outside.
I think Isabelle will not have a self-image issue because her family has the right outlook on food and exercise. Eat healthy and get some movement in there too, not always easy to do, but worth trying.
I so agree with you Stacy, but I have to admit I am trying to lose a few pounds…well more than a few and unfortunately I have to give up my favorite food for a while in order to see results (bread carbs). Once retiring I began exercising 6 days a week for one hour each session taking different types of vigorous classes at a health club. It’s a battle for me even though I do eat healthy. I tell myself I’m not depriving myself, because I still drink my wine ;-)) just taking a break for a bit 😉
I have found that eating wisely and moving more was always what worked for me. Depriving myself of something only made me want it more. You are a great role model for Isabelle.
I like very much that you are aware of those body image conversations that can be so harmful. I thought you were going to say that those women put their daughters on a diet. Thank goodness they weren’t. But you’re right about the boy thing too. It’s good to be careful what is said with both genders. Good for you for the exercise. That seems to count more than most everything else.
I would’ve been aghast if I heard about one of their little ones on a diet.
Totally agree with you and the other commenters- those weight conversations can be so, so, so harmful. I no longer want to deprive myself of foods I love. I just want to eat and live in ways that keeps me healthy and lively and moving for a long, long time.
I love this! We owe it to ourselves, not just our daughters, to be more accepting of our shape, more focused on health than size. 9 times on the elliptical is 9 times more than me, so good on you!
I’ve heard this phrase for years” accept your body” what if your not happy with the body you have. I’ve struggled for years with having a big backside. I never like it. I wore clothing that covered that part of my body because people would make remarks that embarrassed me. I will be 52 in March and I am still not happy with that part of my body, but I have learned to carry it well and stay in the gym.
Just this morning, the Health section of my paper focused on a new study that shows it is about the quantity we eat and not the exercise we do…see, it is constantly on my mind, too!! I don’t think I miss a single item of news on this topic. You are right – we need to be more accepting, especially in front of our children! (P.S. I have had a Fitbit for two years and I love it…simply because it keeps me walking every day. I do lots of other exercise things – hiking, weights – but, at a minimum, I get my 10,000 steps. 😉
Such an important conversation. I always cringe when I hear women talking about how fat they are — because almost always, they are much thinner than me! I love how you talk to your daughter about exercise. I try to do the same with my kids. 🙂
I love this post! I struggle when lunch time at work revolves around diets and that’s all the discussion includes. I think, “We are so much more than numbers on a scale!”
What a wonderful slice, Stacey, and especially timely given the new year and all of the resolutions to lose weight. Body image is something I have always struggled with. When I was in high school, my mom put me on a diet of tuna fish, grapefruit and vanilla ice cream. It was horrible! I look back at the pictures of me from high school and I cringe to think that either she or I thought I had to lose weight. Now that I am in my 40’s and my metabolism is slowing, I am learning more and more to appreciate my body for the gifts it has given me and all the ways it helps make life more joyful. I know that not everyone has that luxury. Thank you for your reflection.
Such important thinking, Stacey! I love how careful you are in the way you talk to your daughter, and I love reading your posts that share that thinking & talking with us! This is something I’m trying to be very intentional about from the beginning with my baby girl!
Working in schools… I am amazed at the number of conversations I hear about weight, diets and the latest health craze! I completely agree – it is about how you feel. I exercise because I love it –I am very lucky to have an insane metabolism but I still try to eat healthy and exercise — I just feel better. The point about boys is really important!!! you should blog about that!
it’s all about the words. “Exercising and eating nutritionally good foods because you want to be fit and feel good” sounds healthier than “Dieting to loose weight to look pretty.” Your exercise stats look great. Your green smoothie drinking habit is admirable.
This was just what I needed to land on tonight. Thank you. I too could never deprive myself of eating food I love. I’m also a pretty stereotypical Midwestern Girl, “What are we going to eat?” Food is the language of my people! 😉 But alas, I am getting older and not as pleased with some body image issues. This is inspirational to keep striving for healthy and strong, not necessarily for thin and a number on the scale.
Love this post, Stacey! I suffered from anorexia when I was 15. It was all related to a male family member’s comments and attitudes towards my weight. I stopped eating well for about a year. It wasn’t until I finally took a good look at my inner self, and what was really important to me, that I was able to get back on track towards a healthier body image. I have battled with weight gain for most of my life, however. I think it’s all about portion control, exercising, eating healthy, and, yes, indulging once in a while. But, it’s also about a positive self-image regardless of what the media or anyone else says. Not taking myself too seriously is also important. Fortunately, both my girls exercise regularly and eat healthy. They don’t obsess about the way their bodies look. I don’t worry about my son because I can truly say he is a feminist of his own making. He knows what’s important and I’m proud of him for that. Phew! That was a longer comment than I meant to write here. Maybe it needs to become a blog post…