Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Setting An Example For Your Kids

I've always known it's important to be a good example to your kids, but I really underestimated my children.  I look back now and wonder how different things would be if I had made some changes years ago. 

A little over three years ago, I made a list of over 100 goals for myself.  I decided I would go a year without pop and six months without fast food.  I don't love either, but I would find myself going through a drive-thru probably once a week due to poor planning.  My day would become much busier than expected and suddenly I have a van full of hungry children and dinner will still take another hour if we go home to eat.  The convenience of the drive-thru was just so tempting.  If I wanted to eat out, I had to go inside and it had to be something at least semi-healthy.  Of course, that would be more expensive and annoying to bring four children inside, so it's extremely rare for me to do so.

Once I made it six months, it wasn't that hard at all, so I decided I would make it a year just like the pop.  I really didn't miss it, so I kept it up and now here I am over three years later and I'm not sure if I'll ever have it again.  I haven't been on any major road trips, so that will be the true test.

I'm still quite overweight, but last year when I had blood tests done, everything looked awesome.  I don't know what it was before, but I think most people would look at me and think I have high cholesterol.  No, my cholesterol, triglycerides, etc. are great. 

After things got really easy, I started to contemplate adding another challenge.  Gluten free?  No, too expensive and too much of a pain.  Dairy free?  No.  I knew sugar was probably the culprit, but I so loved to eat ice cream at night with my husband, especially on hot nights.  I kept telling myself, "Tomorrow isn't a good day.  I'll do it another time."  The more I resisted, the more I realized it was a problem.  I was considering it more strongly when my sister announced on Facebook that she was going sugar free for two weeks, starting tomorrow.

Fred Meyer had just had a sale on ice cream and I had five different flavors in there, but I decided just like that, "I'll do it with you!"  Oh, it was painful, especially when my family ate it in front of me.  We weren't cutting out sugar completely because that's very difficult to do, so we stuck to cutting out desserts.  I also switched to whole grain breads and pasta for the most part. 

After a few days of this, I had a headache.  I wasn't sure if it was related or not, but I also felt almost non-stop hungry.  I coped with it by buying extra delicious foods that were allowable and was eating things like caprese salad for breakfast.  That's another change is that I'm not eating cereal.  If I wanted something cold and refreshing, I had some coconut water at night.  Later a friend suggested I try some frozen banana pureed with a little cocoa powder.  It's actually quite good and there's no added sugar! 

I thought my family would get upset when I stopped buying treats for the most part, but they didn't.  When my two weeks ended, I wasn't missing treats that much and decided I would wait another week and a half until my son's birthday.  I had some of the pumpkin cheesecake trifle I made him and I noticed my heart raced a little and I just felt kind of weird.  I was surprised when I thought, "I can't wait to be sugar free again tomorrow!"

I think my son thought I would go back to eating sugar.  He's 11 and he asked if I would go sugar free with him for the whole month of October.  We asked him, "What about Halloween?"  He said, "I'll go trick or treating, but I won't eat the candy until November 1st."  Then my most candy addicted child decided he would go a week without it.  I made the decision not to have any dessert until Thanksgiving and now I'm waiting again until New Year's Eve.  This is the first time I can remember not eating Halloween candy.

Partway into this, my husband's family decided to do a weight loss challenge.  We would all put in $5 and whoever loses 10% of their weight by December 31st gets part of the pot.  I had already started losing weight by this time, so that makes it even more challenging for me.  I love having this extra motivation to exercise and eat right.  I would win $50 at the most, but it's not about the money.  It's about being able to say that I did it.  I feel like it will be easy to continue this way and I have actually had urges to throw out some of my clothes that are baggy now rather than thinking, "What if I gain it back?" 

My 11-year-old now says if I make it to 199 pounds, he will do the dishes for a month!  My 14-year-old says, "I hope you don't lose too much weight because you won't feel like my mom anymore."  What I'm doing is making them all more conscientious about what they're eating and I really didn't expect them to be so supportive about this.  I'm hoping to change how I view food.  People say, "Everything in moderation", but I crave unhealthy things much more when I let myself eat just a little bit.

The hardest thing for me right now is that I love to spoil others with delicious foods, especially during the holidays, but it's so hard to smell it cooking and not have any.  My next goal is to get everyone exercising on a regular basis.

What things have your kids learned by your example?

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