It was brought to my attention yesterday that there is some kind of war going on in the mummy body image space and normally I wouldn’t bother, but the more I look into it, the more I’m afraid that it’s all just a media grab, and the people supposedly being helped are becoming victims, torn between messages.
Last night, Today Tonight revisited the Maria Kang story, saying she is “the world’s most hated mother.” Point number one, media stories need catchy headlines, it’s what they have to do so don’t be hating on them when you realise that it’s not rape or murder that has earned her this title, but a picture of herself with her kids.
I read through a lot of the comments from the keyboard warriors and most of them were negative. Variants of “I’d rather spend time with my kids than look like that.” were the most popular.
That is such a clever argument point, because nobody wants to deny a child the love of their mother, she definitely should prioritise her kids over gym time, right? But I have one question for them…
“How did you find time to post a comment?”
Julius calls it deadshitting. Smart phones make people dumb. Instead of interacting with their kids, we see so many mothers scrolling through the news feed. Kids on the playground, kids in the swimming pool, kids asking life affirming questions… and what is said mum doing? Deadshitting on her phone. A few kilometres down the newsfeed.
Swimming? playground? Both perfect places to exercise. In fact, if you’re not playing or swimming with your kids, I’d go so far as to say that you’re emotionally abandoning them. Put your phone in your bag and climb the equipment with them!
Which brings me to my next point.
Health isn’t something you go away to do. It happens at home. It happens in your mind, it happens every day in every choice you make. Don’t for once believe that you need to go to the gym to lose weight.
Get healthy with your kids. Get fit with your kids.
Our fitmum online community (a group of mums who have abandoned excuses to become the best mothers and wives they can be) all agree that the single hardest, most exhausting but rewarding challenges is to follow your kids around a playground, doing exactly what they do for as long as they do it for.
And when we say health happens at home, we mean all day every day. One hour at the gym (or playground) isn’t a cure for spending the rest of the time gluttonously eating.
In fact, exercise does very little to directly burn fat. It provides structure and purpose. Fat gain comes from food. Fat loss therefore comes from less food.
But before we worry about less food, try better food.
“Oh, but I have no time to make better food.”
Yet you’ve got time to read this article?
Better food gives you energy. Shit food makes you tired. Make the switch and you too will see that the net result of spending a tiny bit of extra time preparing a salad is a day of higher energy and motivation. More energy and more motivation equals more time with your kids being present.
Being present is the opposite of deadshitting.
The more you are present to your kids, the better they will behave. Someone once said kids spell love T.I.M.E. I would preface that with the word “interaction.” Interaction time.
Kids want attention and will get it in any way they can. Most parents have attention all ass backwards.
They yell at the kids when they are misbehaving
Give them attention when they are misbehaving
They sneak off to do chores when they are behaving
Ignore them when they are behaving
Switch it up.
But it doesn’t mean you’re going to play Barbies all day, you can control the interaction. My kids love helping me with chores, or just being around me while I do chores.
It may take a little extra time, but it’s time spent with them developing motor skills and a love of work, along with a sense of achievement and an understanding of teamwork. I also get to have fantastic conversations with them.
Think of it like a bank balance. If you spend more than you earn, you will end up broke.
If you eat more than you burn, you will end up fat.
Being broke is being restricted – you become financially incapable of doing what you want. Being fat is being restricted – you become physical incapable of doing what you want.
If you don’t spend anything for a week, you’ll have a higher bank balance, which will look healthy, but you’ll be stressed out and unhappy because you’ve missed some bills. Not healthy.
If you don’t eat for a week, you’ll have a lower body fat, which will look healthy, but you’re starving, nutritionally exhausted and emotionally stressed out.
Here’s the good news.
No matter what your current cashflow situation is, it can be improved by cutting out mindless spending.
In the same vein, no matter what your current body composition is, it can be improved by cutting out mindless eating.
If you have no control over your eating, the result is excess body fat. Reword that to say, if you have excess body fat, it is a result of having no control over your eating. Something you did in the past. You can’t change your past, but you can change your future.
Once again, if you have no control over your finances, you’ll be broke. Reword to “if you’re broke, it is because you have no control over your finances.”
The only difference is that financial income and expenditure is for most people dictated by someone else. You don’t control your pay, you don’t control your rates or your rent.
With body fat though, you control both sides, income and expenditure. Nobody force feeds you. You feed yourself.
So, if you are broke, you need to gain control of your finances. If you are fat, you need to gain control of your food. Every cent should be accounted for, just like every calorie should be accounted for.
It’s simple. Get control.
Until you feel you have a firm grip (control) over your consumption (financial or physical), you’ll need to account for everything.
I guess there is one other distinction between financial loss and weight loss. Most people who are broke, know they are broke. Most people who are fat, don’t know they are fat. Most people who are broke, know that they made themselves broke. Most people who are fat, blame everything but themselves.
With the media frenzy going on about Maria Kang, we’ve seen a lot of body shape lobby groups come out of nowhere to slam her, and they have a lot of support.
Most of these lobby groups have a slogan along the lines of “love yourself at any weight.” There are two conundrums with that.
Firstly, an obesity lobby group like that could never have been started by a thin person. That would be condescending. It’s like a man starting a single mother’s lobby group – people would be offended.
Secondly, you wouldn’t start an organisation like this if you were happy with what you looked like, would you? “Life is so damn good, I’m gonna start a lobby group for big women.”
I’d imagine it would go something like this: “I hate myself so much right now, I’m gonna start a lobby group and surround myself with other victims so we can all celebrate being fat together.”
I thought long and hard about a more sensitive way to say it, but couldn’t. So sorry about that, but it brings home the next point.
If you are a fat woman, who has started a lobby group for fat women, what happens when one day you decide you want to lose weight? What happens when you decide you’d like to complete a triathlon, but your knees can’t take the weight?
Let’s take it further. What happens when you get told your thyroid is overworked and you have to lose weight? What happens when you get type 2 diabetes and get told that to cure it or survive you have to lose weight?
You should lose weight, right? You would lose weight, right?
But what about the millions of other fat women you’ve preyed upon, gained followers from, that you are a spokeswoman for. Women who think it’s OK to gain a couple of kilos a year (20kg in a decade).
What message are you going to send them if you lose weight?
What are you going to do? Are you going to stay fat and suffer to protect your herd, or are you going to save your life by losing weight and turn your herd against you?
What if your daughter grows up and gets type 2 diabetes and you know you have to sit down at the dinner table with her and talk about it. You’ve spent her entire life lobbying, chanting, blogging and preaching about how it is OK to be fat, and now you need to go back on your word.
If you own a lobby group that promotes the concept that fat is beautiful, please spend some time looking at the big picture. Look further than your own nose. You want to make a difference and you have the motivation. Surely there is a better way to combat the body issue.
How about stopping it at the source. If you weren’t fat (the result of an unhealthy past), you wouldn’t feel the need to lobby (defend yourself).
If there were no more fat people, there would be no more fat shaming.
Go to the school and help in the canteen, influence the menu there, give people healthier options.
Setting up a body image website just seems like the lazy way to make a difference. It’s easy. There are thousands of women who binge eat and want you to say it is OK. Just like there were thousands of smokers who wanted to believe it was OK.
“It’s OK to be fat” websites and lobby groups are selfish. Don’t kid yourself, you’re not helping anyone but yourself. You’re like the alcoholic who organises parties so she doesn’t have to drink alone.
To finish, I think it is important to reiterate the point that body fat, or lack thereof is a result. A measure. Just like a bank balance.
If your goal in life is to have a large bank balance, you’ll end up falling short, or missing a lot of what life is about.
Make a positive difference in people’s lives while you reduce mindless spending, and you’ll see your bank balance rise. If you only goal is the big bank balance, you’ll hate yourself every time you spend money and you’ll never feel like you have earned enough.
Transfer that logic to body image. A “thin body” is not a sustainable goal. If all you think about is losing weight, then you’ll hate yourself for every bit of food you eat and you’ll never be happy with how much exercise you get to do.
Change your goal to “reducing mindless eating and exercising to make a difference in your families lives. “
It’s hard to grasp unless you’re doing it, but of all the FITmum graduates, the ones who have lost the most weight are the ones who do the course to become better mothers and wives… All of them say that they never started for weight loss.
The journey to being the best mum starts with self control, time management and putting yourself first. Once you work this out, you’ll be amazed at the result in your body composition.
And so that I don’t miss out on the most important issue here, having excess body fat is a result of overindulgence in food.
The more body fat you carry, the worse your experience of each day (daily health) and the higher your risk of traumatic disease or death.
Just like cigarettes. Having excess tar on your lungs is the result of overindulgence in cigarettes. The more tar you carry around, the worse your current health and the higher your risk of traumatic disease or death.
So please, on behalf of your children and the children of the people who love you, stop trying to accept excess body fat (self inflicted illness).
Lobbying to stop “fat shaming” because of anorexia is immature and lacking sense.
Telling an obese young girl that she’s not that fat is like telling an anorexic young girl that she’s not that thin.
Can’t we just focus on habits? Your habits are unhealthy. Let’s start replacing them with healthy ones. We can’t say “you’re fat, stop eating so much” but we can say “until now, you’ve eaten dangerous foods – let’s change them for healthy foods. In a few hours you’ll feel better, in a few days you’ll look better, in a few weeks you’ll be better”
Just like a lobby group. Just like facebook comments. Before saying anything, think about standing in front of your daughter and explaining it to her. Imagine explaining it to her if she were dangerously thin, and then imagine explaining your comment to her if she were morbidly obese.
There’s strength in numbers, right? But a million cowards (deadshitting keyboard warriors) still haven’t got through to Maria Kang, because she has integrity. She’s done it. She’s sacrificed TV time for exercise. She’s sacrificed drinking with her mates for a Sunday morning at the playground with her kids.
If you’re spending the weekend hung over, you’re sacrificing your kids for your social life. If you’re spending the day exhausted from eating junk food, then you’re sacrificing your kids for your addiction.
But you guys know that.
The reason I am writing this is because I know you want to make a difference, I know you know how these people feel. For most of us, it’s like looking into the past.
We could get up in arms and fight back with our own spiteful comments, but war never worked for anyone. Even the victor.
All we can do is let people know that it’s ok to be healthy. It’s not that hard. Like riding a bike, it takes a bit of effort to get momentum, but once you’re rolling you click off the miles with very little extra effort. But you’re flying.
Fly girls. Become that shining beacon of possibility for other mums. Play with your kids at the park, join in with their swimming lessons. Do it enough and people will believe it is normal. Once exercise and health become normal, the result (fat loss) will be evident.
It will be something we talk about like interracial marriage or homosexuality. Something we all got so worked up over a long time ago, but so normal now.
Save the world?
Let’s start with ourselves.
And please, can we stop the girl on girl hate speech. I though tall poppy syndrome was left in the boys locker room. We’re better than that!