beauty and torture.

The other day I was putting on make up in front of my husband. Usually I don’t do that because Dan hates when I wear makeup, so I like to keep up the guise that I don’t actually wear it by waiting until I’m alone to put on just a tad of concealer to cover my blemishes. But this time, we were both getting ready for an event we were going to together, so I had to lift the veil.

As I was taking the eyelash curler to my lids, I had some interesting thoughts to myself:

This kind of looks like a torture device. I wonder if Dan, or any other male who is unfamiliar with such an apparatus, thinks I’m torturing myself? 

Wait. As a matter of fact, curling my eyelashes IS pretty bizarre, whether it looks so or not. These little hairs aren’t even an inch long. Does anyone notice whether I use the curler or not? Come to think of it, if I catch my eyelid at just the WRONG angle, it absolutely IS torture! I’m torturing myself! Ah!

Why do we do such strange things to ourselves in the name of beauty?

Today I stumbled across something on the Internet that takes the torture-for-beauty cake (and doesn’t eat it, apparently):

Image via The Daily What

(From TDW) Disturbing Trend of the Day: In a last-gasp attempt to fit into the THE DRESS, desperate brides-to-be in the U.S. (like Jessica Schnaider, pictured) can now have a feeding tube inserted into their nose that provides a drip of liquid protein and fat (with no carbohydrates) through the esophagus into the stomach. The $1,500, 10-day treatment is effective: The tube delivers just 800 calories a day, and generally results in the loss of at least 10 percent of body weight — and perfect wedding pictures. But… ew?

This makes me so sad. And hurt. And angry. Mostly, though, it makes me want to put my two weeks’ notice in on life on this earth.

I think about all my close friends whom have gotten married recently. I think about my close friends who are talking about getting married soon. I think about my wedding almost three years ago. And my heart breaks into a thousand pieces just imagining any of them literally torturing themselves like this before the happiest day of their lives.

I never watch the show Mike & Molly, but last night it was on while Dan and I were doing chores. The subject matter of last night’s episode was Molly being on an unhealthy juice fast in order to drop several pounds in three weeks to fit into her wedding dress. Sigh. Granted, the moral of the episode was that what Molly was doing was turning her into a crazy person, not at all the person that Mike wanted to marry, but still — the mere fact that this was portrayed on television at all puts the idea into girls’ heads that you can’t possibly wear a wedding dress without obsessing over your weight first. And oh, ha ha ha, it’s a comedy, so let’s all laugh at how silly it is instead of talking about how serious and disturbing it is. Oh ha ha ha, CBS, you’re hilarious.

So how did we get here? How did we get from ha ha ha, silly sit coms about overweight people, to bloody feeding tubes?! Are you kidding me? When will the insanity stop?

Why, oh why, are we perpetuating this? Why are we continually sending out messages that this type of behavior is acceptable and normal? WAKE UP, WORLD. THIS ISN’T OKAY.

I have no more words to offer. Instead, here’s Internet phenom Jenna Marbles on diets, F words and all. Enjoy.

ashley judd 1, the media 0.

Image via The Daily Beast

You may have already stumbled across the piece that actress Ashley Judd wrote in response to the media criticizing her “puffy face” and making the public assertion that she’d had “work done.” However, if you haven’t, I highly suggest you take the time to read it. It’s definitely worth it.

While I’m usually the first person to be up in arms over the media saying preposterous, body-policing things like this (much like the recent accusations that Jennifer Lawrence is “too big” to play Katniss Everdeen) I usually forget to even consider how the celebrity in question feels. Even worse than that, sometimes I even find myself flippantly making damning comments like this one. Ugh. Shame on me.

Whether they’re celebrities or not, they’re still people. They’re still living, breathing, human beings, fearfully and wonderfully made, and their looks are not the end-all be-all of their worth.

And for Christ’s sake, just because a woman’s face has changed shape over the years does NOT mean she’s had work done. Unless you consider aging naturally “getting work done” then by all means, STFU.

Read Ashley’s killer response here.

tuesday tip — finding your sexy when you’re ______.

Disclaimer: So, this is my blog, after all. And this is the stuff I’m currently struggling through. If reading it makes you feel weird, sorry. You don’t have to read it. I won’t be offended.

The other day I came across this fabulous article that pretty much sums up every thing I’ve been struggling with lately as far as body image and self-love goes. If you don’t have time to read it, the title speaks for itself:

Who gets to be sexy? Is it me?

I’ve kind of touched on the subject before here and here but, sadly, I currently don’t feel like I’m one of those people who “gets” to be sexy. My husband and I have had several conversations recently (even creating a document about the mental blocks I have and the steps I need to take to overcome them) to try and get to the root of this problem (including, but not limited to: my past, including my ex who sexually abused me, my history with my eating disorder, etc.) and while these reasons are valid, I’m sick of them.

In my head, I think, I’ve always assumed that once I hit certain self-proclaimed milestones then (and only then) could I “get” to be sexy.

  • When I reach my goal weight.
  • When my face finally stops breaking out.
  • When I can figure out how to apply make up and not look like a circus clown.
  • When I learn how to properly curl my hair.
  • When I…
My husband, who is so sweet and wonderful and always trying to help, brought something to my attention the other day:
Dan: “Did you see the lady in front of us in line at Wal-Mart?”
Me: “No.”
Dan: “Oh. Well. She was at least double your size everywhere and was buying lingerie. I thought that if she could do it, you could, too.”
Under normal circumstances, I would have probably considered the legitimacy of his observation. But because I’m hormonal and crazy, I went home, drew myself a bath, and cried in it for an hour.
It seems like it’s only getting worse for me as I get rounder. This is probably shocking to you, but feeling sexy while pregnant is proving to be almost impossible for me. I know, I know. I didn’t see that one coming, either. Lindsay can’t feel sexy when she’s not pregnant? What do you mean she can’t feel sexy when she is? *Heavy eye roll.*

I’ve been searching for ways to try and rectify this. Really, the only solution I’ve come up with is only letting my husband touch me in the morning when it’s still dark since, at that point, I haven’t spent an entire day staring at my gigantic belly and focusing on how “matronly” and “not-sexy” it is.

But then (of course, while I’m struggling with this) Jessica Simpson (who has been pregnant for roughly three years it feels like) comes out totally butt naked on the cover of Elle like she owns the joint. And my husband goes ahead and says that it’s sexy.

Ugh. 

Okay, world. I get it. It’s possible to be sexy while overweight. And it’s possible to be sexy while pregnant. So why am I still completely lacking in this department?

Oh that’s right — because the problem isn’t my body; it’s my mind.

TODAY’S SELF-LOVE TIP: FINDING YOUR SEXY WHEN YOU’RE ______.

I know not all of you are pregnant. And I know that not all of you struggle with “sexiness” in particular. But maybe it’s confidence. Maybe it’s spark. Maybe it’s being outgoing. But, if you’re like me, and you have this little part inside you that, for whatever reason, can’t come out because you’re currently _____ (fill in the blank for whatever that is: pregnant, over your goal weight, not making enough money, whatever) I’m here to tell you that your circumstance is not your problem.

It’s your mind.

I don’t have all the answers on how to change your mind (because if I did, let’s be honest, I wouldn’t have this blog) but here are some things that have worked for me so far:

1. be intentional.

Make an effort. When you think to yourself that you can’t be sexy, just think immediately afterwards, “That’s not true. I can be and am sexy.” It will be awkward and weird at first. But be intentional about it.

2. be persistent.

You can’t change your paradigm overnight. It will take some time. Commit to it because, in the end, it will be so worth it (or so I think).

3. be patient.

With yourself! Know that some days, you’ll be on fire. You’ll be a sex goddess, even! But know that, even still, there will be some days when you feel frumpy and gross and some innocent Wal-Mart shopper is gonna show up at the register with cute lingerie and make you cry in a bathtub and you’re just going to have to let that be okay.

What is your “sexy” that you’re striving toward? Please don’t say I’m alone in this!

overly photoshopped and blatantly untrue diet advertisements in japan.

Maybe it has something to do with being a naive, ethnocentric American (sorry, I’m a bit patriotic after last night’s politically charged television lineup) but I find myself frequently falling into the trap that says that self-image issues only span our borders and no one else’s. When I get on my soapbox, raise my fists, and go on verbal rampages against “society,” I’m usually referring to American society, because I really don’t know much else. (I mean, I did live in London for almost a year but that doesn’t really hold a candle to the other 25 I’ve lived in the States.)

All that to say, a good friend of mine sent me a link to this article about diet advertisements in Japan. Yes. You heard me right. Diet. Advertisements. In. Japan.

When was the last time you looked at a Japanese woman and was like, “Dang, that girl needs to lose some WEIGHT?”

I don’t know about you, but I honestly have never uttered those words. Maybe I’ve just been uncharacteristically lucky enough to only lay eyes on super thin Japanese people (I mean that in the nicest I hate you for being so naturally small but not really I actually love you and will you please make some babies because all of you are so adorable it’s too much to handle way possible) but I honestly feel as though the Japanese are just, on average, a smaller group of people than we Americans.

Ugh. I keep feeling like Im going to get a slew of, “You’re a big fat racist!” comments. I swear I’m not! I voted for Obama!

Anyway. None of this is the point.

THE POINT IS.

The pictures and numbers in the article. Holy hell.

If you’re like me, and you can’t read Japanese, let me do some translating for you.

The women in these ads (who are, as you can plainly see, the unfortunate victims of some of the most atrocious Photoshopping jobs I’ve ever laid eyes on) have apparently dropped up to 60.7 kilograms (which, if you are doing the math in your head and you’re a bit stumped, is about 133.4 pounds) in 60 days.

SIXTY DAYS? As in, TWO MONTHS? A hundred and thirty pounds in TWO MONTHS?

Does anyone believe this is at ALL possible, least of all HEALTHY?

Somehow, these diet ads are trying to convince their readers (who, by the way, ARE YOUNG GIRLS, of course) that these little women lost the equivalent of a eighth-grade-sized Lindsay in TWO MONTHS? And, furthermore, that they needed to lose that much weight in the first place?

I am speechless. If nothing else, this article proves that the diet industry is deceptive, evil, and (evidently) thinks we’re all just a drooling pile of schmucks who can’t tell the difference between an overly photoshopped toothpick and the normal-sized person she once was. While I thankfully have yet to stumble across an advertisement of this caliber in the states, it still puts me on alert to all other diet ads out there.

Remember what your good pal Lindsay has said about pictures in magazines: 99% of them are Photoshopped. You cannot believe what you see (or even read, in this case.)

Check out the rest of the article and scroll through the mind-blowing pictures here.

tuesday tip — self-fulfilling prophecies.

Over the past week, my husband Dan and I have been in an argument. Don’t worry — it’s not a really bad one, and we’re not going to divorce over it, but it’s one that bears talking about on my blog, I guess, despite it being extremely embarrassing for me.

Dan: “You’re sexy.”
Me: “No, I’m not. I’m awkward and weird.”
Dan: “You’re only awkward and weird because you say you’re awkward and weird. If you said you were sexy, you’d believe it, too.”
Me: “No, because I’m not. I’m awkward and weird. End of story.”

Disclaimer: I apologize to those of you (my mom, my pastors, anyone who happens to interact with Dan and I on a daily basis, etc.) who read this blog and are now barfing in your mouths over my husband calling me sexy. Just mentally change the word to “awesome” or “smart” or “really good at everything” or something in order to ease your discomfort.

The result of this argument is never me feeling sexy. If anything, I feel worse — that is, less sexy and more awkwardly weird — than I did previously. Our arguments typically make my opinion (whether it’s wrong or not) stronger, and, presumably, Dan’s as well. And then, the following morning, I get out of bed and look in the mirror (ugh, stupid mirrors) and cringe at how strange and unsexy I am.

TODAY’S SELF-LOVE TIP: BEWARE OF SELF-FULFILLING PROPHECIES.

It’s no secret that the more we tell ourselves we are something, the more likely it is to come true (at least to us.) The more often we look in the mirror and say to ourselves, “I’m not pretty, I’m ugly,” or, “I’m not smart, I’m stupid,” etc., the harder it will be for us to believe anything else.

But the good news about this is that it works the opposite way, too. Could you imagine what your days would be like if you woke up every morning and looked at your reflection and said something like, “I am intelligent. I am talented. I am beautiful. I am loved.”? I imagine that, though strange at first, it would dramatically change things over time.

So you know what I did?

I painted my nails red. And put on some cute underwear. And, this morning, I looked in the mirror and thought to myself, I am sexy. Just saying it made me feel a little bit sexier. Not totally sexy and not not awkward and weird, mind you, but a baby step in the right direction, I reckon.

Let’s try this together, shall we? While I work on being sexy, how do you want to see yourself? What self-fulfilling prophecies do you want to come true about yourself?

body love.

If you ever want a good, interesting read about women’s issues, check out Rachel Hills’ blog, Musings of an Inappropriate Woman. She writes a lot of really hit-the-nail-on-the-head articles that make me pump my fist in the air and say, “YES! GO GIRL! GO US!”

Today she posted a guest article that, while not written by her, offers up the same feelings. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve uttered most of the words written here before.

Guest post: Body love

I’m sick to the back teeth of girls who look perfectly fine talking about how they hate their ‘flabby’ thighs or their (non-existent) love handles. It’s simply attention seeking and fishing for compliments. Just because you feel bad, doesn’t mean everyone else should. We’ve done this as a society, made women feel as though they can’t just be happy and confident and accept their bodies because there are too many women who don’t. Self esteem is to do with your self, don’t try to get everyone on that sinking ship with you. No amount of me saying how much I hate my pinky toe is gonna make you feel better about what you have going on. Let’s just all get real.

Seriously! Let’s get real.

the reality is…

Can I tell you something embarrassing? Like, really embarrassing.

I watch a lot of reality television.

Phew. There, I said it. It feels good to get that off my chest.

And, mind you, I don’t watch good  reality television, if there even is such a thing. I watch the worst reality television I can lay my eyes on.

When I was in college, my roommates and I would build our weekly schedules around Flavor of Love and Charm School. Now, my husband and I plop ourselves in front of the couch each Wednesday (or, at least we did until last week’s finale episode) to agonize over the goings-on in America’s Next Top Model. Pleh.

The results of me and my roommates consuming the former were mind-numbing at best, character-damaging at worst. If I was lucky, I’d turn off the TV after watching those shows and feel moderately entertained and then I’d walk my happy self to my bedroom to finish studying or doing homework or any other productive activity. On the flip side, if I wasn’t so fortunate, I’d find myself audibly judging the people on TV as if I knew them in real life and really hated them.

I can’t speak for Dan, but the result of me watching ANTM is equally as disappointing — either I turn off the TV and silently vow to never eat again until I can score a modeling career before I turn 27 because “Dominique did it and has two kids and STILL looks better than me! I’m such a failure!” or I yell at the screen about how “stupid/annoying/ugly/lame/obnoxious” the girls are and, sometimes, even about how much I actually loathe them. (Sorry, Alexandria. You got the brunt of my hate. Oh, and Lisa? Girlfriend, no one wanted you to win. Sorry. Everyone wanted Allison to win. It’s alright, boo. Keep those obnoxiously reflective hater blockers on and tell us all to shove it.)

I didn’t see the problem before, but now, it’s painfully obvious and makes me cringe.

Because Dan and I will be parents one day, I’ve started really thinking about the types of media we consume. Not only reality television, but all the TV we choose to watch. And the movies. And the music we listen to. The video games we play. The magazines we read. Everything. Could it possibly be harmful to us? Or, an even more disturbing thought, could us consuming this stuff be harmful to our children? (Of course not in a “drinking a bottle of wine each night when you’re pregnant” way, but in a “Sorry sweetie, Mommy can’t tuck you in tonight because the finale for ANTM is on and I’m pretty sure there are going to be girls crying and fighting and cussing at the producers and you know I love seeing pretty and skinny girls in anguish, yippee!” way.)

But wait! Some good news! A close friend of mine sent me this article from the Discovery Channel which states that, according to a recent study, reality TV isn’t as harmful to people, particularly to young girls, as I had previously thought. Here are some interesting nuggets from the article:

Seventy-five percent of surveyed girls said the programs have inspired conversations with their parents and friends. Some girls even said they take inspiration from the shows, with 68 percent agreeing with the statement that the shows “make me think I can achieve anything in life,” while 62 percent said the shows have “raised their awareness of social issues and causes.”

Besides the suprising findings on the positive influence of reality TV, the survey found image may not be as critical in teen girls’ minds as expected.

The majority of girls in both groups reported that they did not think a girl’s value is based on how she looks. Sixty-two percent of reality TV viewers (and 72 percent of nonviewers) responded “No” to a question asking, “Do you think a girl’s value is based on how she looks?”

Thus only 28 percent of nonviewers (which represents most teens) say a girl’s value is based on how she looks, and (perhaps even more surprisingly given appearance-oriented reality TV shows) only 38 percent of reality TV viewers endorse that “beauty myth” idea. That most girls reject the idea that their value is based on their appearance is encouraging news.

Now, as excited as that news makes me, I don’t know that I’m completely sold. In my own personal life, I feel as though reality TV has damaged my character somewhat, even despite my acknowledgment of its poor value. I’m curious to know what the girls would have said if the question on the survey was, “Do you think SOCIETY values girls because of their looks?” It’s true that the fact that these girls don’t think their value lies within their appearances is undoubtedly encouraging. But I thought that at one point too and, at the same time I also thought, “But, even still, society will never find me beautiful and so it doesn’t really matter what I think.”

Sigh.

Despite the findings of this survey, young girls (and boys!) are being diagnosed with eating disorders younger and younger each year (see this story on CNN) while the consumption of all media (not just reality television, though that is certainly included) is steadily on the rise.  So, while the article makes some hopeful points, I have to consider the source. Not only does Discovery Channel have its very own set of reality programming, it is also owned by Discovery Communications. DC also owns several other networks, most notably TLC, which showcases such gems as Say Yes to the Dress and, my personal favorite, Say Yes to the Dress: Big Bliss.

I’m not saying I think the study is totally bogus. I have a lot of faith in people and trust pretty much everything I read, hear, or see. (It’s what got me into this mess in the first place, I reckon.) But I do believe it offers up some good points about how to put these programs into perspective and have real, honest conversations about them with people, especially young children. And that is supremely valuable.

How do you feel about reality television and girls’ self images?

tuesday tip — mirrors don’t know you.

Today, one of my friends messaged me needing help and encouragement after a run-in with a nasty, lying mirror. You know the kind. We’ve all had our own encounters with these unforgiving monsters. From afar, these mirrors look like normal mirrors. But when you get up close to one of them to inspect it, it’s too late — you’ve already been lied to by this sad excuse for a reflection. As quickly as you can say, “Are my thighs REALLY that wide?” the mirror distorts your body into weird shapes (shapes, people!) that don’t so much as halfway resemble the way you know your body actually looks.

I’m almost one hundred percent positive these mirrors are manufactured solely for two arenas: dance studios and Hollister dressing rooms. Regardless, they unfortunately seem to be more prevalent than that.

So. What do you do when you come in contact with one of these dastardly little devils? Remember that mirrors don’t know you.

TODAY’S SELF-LOVE TIP: MIRRORS DON’T KNOW YOU.

The thing you need to remember about all mirrors (but especially the mean ones) is that they only reflect some sort of distorted, backwards image of your appearance. That’s it. They don’t reflect the real you.

  • They don’t reflect how good of a friend you are.
  • They don’t reflect how you make people feel.
  • They don’t reflect the way it feels to hug you.
  • They don’t reflect your empathy.
  • They don’t reflect the way your family feels about you.
  • They don’t reflect the way your friends feel about you.
  • They don’t reflect how your children feel about you.
  • They don’t reflect how your cats (in my case, ha) feel about you.

The truth is, mirrors are like those acquaintances you had in high school that you thought you’d never see again but, through some freak accident (read: Facebook) you interact with from time to time. They may act like they know you, but in reality, if they had to explain you to someone who’d never met you they’d be extremely limited.

MIRROR: “Who? Lindsay Durrenberger? Yeah, I know her. She’s about 5’6″ and has dirty blonde hair that’s kind of wavy and kind of curly and has a weird cowlick on the right side. She also stands weird because her left knee is wrong or something.”

PERSON: Yeah but I mean, what’s she like?

MIRROR: I just told you, didn’t I?

The only true part of the mirror’s evaluation of me is my height and hair color. My cowlick is on my LEFT side and my RIGHT knee was torn.

See? Mirrors don’t know beans about you. Don’t let them dictate your worth because you are SO much more than what meets the distorted eye of a piece of reflective metal.

secrets, secrets are no fun. secrets, secrets hurt someone.

Well. You all know how I feel about Victoria’s Secret, and you also know how I try to avoid anything that triggers me to hate my body. So it should come as no surprise to you that I took a pass on the Victoria’s Secret fashion show.

It’s not that I didn’t want to watch it. Every bone in my body wanted to. Though I didn’t outwardly verbalize my desire to spend my evening staring at lingerie models and secretly plotting my next eating disorder relapse, lest my husband consequently decide domestic abuse is now how we do things, I kept rationalizing the idea to myself.

  • I’ve come so far! It probably won’t be a big deal. The worst thing that could happen is it inspires me to lose weight and hey, that’s like, healthy, right?
  • I bet there will be a lot of celebrities there. And who doesn’t love celebrities?
  • Oh, goodie! Kanye West is performing! Maybe he’ll steal a microphone from one of the angels and totally go all Taylor Swift on her in front of everyone. I wouldn’t want to miss that!
  • Lingerie pretty. Me want look.

But at the end of the day, my inner self-love warrior won out and I chose to put my attention elsewhere. (Finishing my NaNoWriMo novel, thank you very much!)

Today I stumbled across this article by a man named Ryan Beckler and it confirmed everything I feared about watching the show. Here’s an excerpt:

A commercial break allowed me to check my social media streams. I was pretty shocked at what girls were posting/tweeting:

  • “BRB, starving myself. Thank you, VS fashion show.”
  • “Victoria secret fashion show = going to throw up to make myself look that good!”
  • “NEVER. EATING. AGAIN.”
  • “Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.. now I feel like a whale =[ “

Huh? What the hell? Something is seriously wrong here.

The rest of the article is a great reminder to all of us women that being dangerously thin and hating ourselves is not attractive! If your end game is to snag a man (and if it is, let me wag my finger at you for a moment and remind you to switch your focus to learning how to fall in love with yourself instead of waiting for another person to validate you) vowing to never eat again on Twitter is not the way to go about that.

Read the rest of Ryan’s awesome article here.

fighting childhood obesity without fighting children.

A couple months ago, a good friend of mine and mother of three emailed me about childhood obesity. She’s passionate on the subject (as it should be) but is concerned about keeping her kids healthy, in shape, and making smart choices about food in a way that doesn’t encourage disordered eating in the future. (By the way, as someone who plans on having children at some point, this notion TERRIFIES me to death. If I do ANYTHING that breaks my kids to the point of disordered eating, I probably will never forgive myself. I’m even hesitant to tell them about my struggles lest they give them any ideas.)

This subject is a touchy one so I’ve done my best to avoid writing on it until now. But this afternoon, this article popped up in my Google reader about children and diets. I guess it’s time.

The first time I was ever displeased with my body was when I was eight years old. Eight. Not eighteen. Eight. A child. I distinctly remember standing in the bathroom and looking at my body from the side and being angry that my stomach poked out. (Imagine a child’s body. That’s exactly the way an eight-year-old should look.) Then, I resolved that once I got boobs, my body wouldn’t look so bad. So I looked forward to developing boobs. Then, I got boobs. And my ballet teachers made me hate them. And I wanted to starve them away and look like an eight year old again.

Sigh.

As a person who spent the better part of her childhood obsessed with not being fat, I can’t accurately articulate my feelings on the subject. While I absolutely hate the idea of any child being put on a diet (do NOT get me started on this) the obesity epidemic in America, particularly when it comes to children, is something that I think shouldn’t be ignored.

So. The question is, then, how do we encourage our children to make healthy decisions about food and exercise without scaring them into destructive behavior like eating disorders?

I’m no expert. I have no degree on this subject and I have no children. But. Here’s how I’m going to try to address it in the future.

1. replacing negative comments with positive ones.

The entire focus of the diet industry is to deconstruct and violently remove parts of ourselves. Seriously. “Shrink your belly!” “Melt your thighs!” “Burn more fat!” There’s nothing that sounds positive about any of that. It’s laborious, damaging, and scary. By the same token, using negative words about our bodies in front of or (God forbid) to our children has the same effect. We should never say to our children, “Don’t eat that X because it’s fattening and bad,” or, “Make sure to get outside and play so you don’t get fat.” Rather, we should say, “Make sure you do eat all your veggies so you will become big and strong,” or “Playing outside is so good for you because it keeps your body strong!” If working in marketing has taught me anything, it’s that your message is 90% spin.

2. practicing what i preach.

People say that children are sponges — they absorb everything adults do, retain it, and eventually leak it out on their own. I completely agree with this, but I disagree with the idea that it goes away when we grow up. Personally, I don’t think I ever stopped being a sponge. I’m always watching people and sometimes (unfortunately) emulating them. If our kids see us complain about our bodies or use negative language toward food, they’re going to do it. Period. I can’t pinpoint the reason that I thought my eight year old belly stuck out too far, but I can only assume that it’s probably because I heard someone else say that about themselves.

3. focusing on what we can do, not what we look like.

This, I think, is the biggest miss of our entire society. We focus so much on what we look like and hardly at all on what we can do. (My biggest pet peeve concerning this, for instance, is the body ideal of having a completely bone-thin body with giant boobs and a round butt. Sorry, but this isn’t anatomically possible. Yet, our society demands it of us women, because all we seem to be worth is how easy we are on the eyes.) By putting the focus on what we can do — our talents, our passions, our gifts, our strengths — we put value in the things that, despite the passage of time, will not change. I think this is crucial to raising happy, healthy children.

4. not a diet — but a way of life.

Diets don’t work. They don’t. If you can’t sustain a behavior for the rest of your life, it’s not going to help you. Sure, cutting out carbs helps you lose weight for a minute; but once you eat a bagel again (and you will, I promise) you’ll gain it all back and then some. Committing to a healthy lifestyle — choosing healthy foods, eating “unhealthy” foods in moderation, being active, and training your mind to think positively — is the way to go. I am making a vow, here and now on my blog, to never, ever, EVER, say the words, “I need to go on a diet” in front of my kids. I may say, “I need to eat more fruits and vegetables,” or “I should keep my sugar intake to a minimum,” or some variant of those, but I will NEVER say, “I need to go on a diet.” Everything inside me would cringe if I heard my kids say that and so, per number 2 and 3, I will never say it myself.

And there you have it. It’s a bit rough, and may be tweaked a bit once I actually have kids. But there it is.

What about you? Do you have kids? If so, how have you encouraged health in your house?