From the mouths of children come the most eye-opening things.
So today, my husband and I did a workout together in the basement/playroom while our youngest was napping. Our 5-yr-old, as she often does, was hanging out with us "working out" along with us and Tony Horton. At the end of our workout, in the middle of a big snuggly hug, she looked up at me with her enormous brown eyes so filled with light and life and said:
"Mama, we exercise so we can be skinny, right?"
This took my breath away like no workout has ever done. Heart-stopping.
My children's perceptions of fitness and health are on my mind a lot. I worry about this a lot, especially with my daughter. Girls are so much more susceptible to so many body image pressures, thrown at them in every direction from waaayyyyyy too young. Thong underwear that are made in a size 4T? REALLY? Ew.
My daughter has made observations before about different body shapes and sizes, as all children do, some of them loudly and in public, as all children do. With every observation, our response to her is that people come in a huge variety of beautiful shapes, sizes, and colors. She is okay with this answer - I think - but clearly has been giving it some thought and making connections on her own.
With the addition of the Body Back program to my teaching lineup, she has likely heard more second-hand discussion about weight. I have gone through some body changes since making regular exercise part of my life, and I know that a lot of people who haven't seen me for a while will comment when we first meet - which is kind and lovely of them - and my daughter has heard and registered all of these comments.
So what was our answer?
Our answer was no. We exercise to feel strong, and powerful. We exercise to be healthy so we can take care of ourselves and our families. We exercise to train our bodies so that we can have longer dance parties in the living room, and take farther hikes in the woods, and spend more time climbing back up the sledding hill.
And this week, when she comes with me to our Stroller Strides classes, she will see shining examples of beautiful moms of all different gorgeous shapes and sizes. Moms who are powerful, loving, and leading active lives taking care of themselves so they can take care of their families. And my most fervent hope for her, and for all girls, is that she will continue to grow and be healthy and active and fit - and insanely happy in her own skin, whatever shape it happens to be over.