Fit and Fun ~Sarah

I met Sarah@GlobalCopyWriting at a WW meeting. I remember leaning over and asking ‘Are you an American?’ The rest is history.

We have both struggled with weight.

I asked if she’s write about what she’s dubbed ‘Fit and Fun School Holidays’ during this summer break with her son L (it’s summer in Oz).

This post is a great overview of what ‘Fit and Fun’ means as well as Sarah sharing her story.

Thanks Sarah!

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Fit and Fun School Holidays ~Sarah

My 5-year-old son loves food.  Like all kids, there are things he won’t eat and other things, like zucchini, he’ll only eat under duress. Mostly, he’s good about eating a healthy diet. But he also craves sugar and fatty foods. He’s constantly on the lookout for treats and snacks. He worries about what we’re going to have for dessert before I even start preparing a meal. Given the chance, he gorges until he’s sick. He’s the biggest kid in his class.

Challenges

I worry about this. We talk about healthy choices. The school system in Australia helps by promoting healthy eating as part of the curriculum. As the holiday season closed, it was obvious he put on weight. I was faced with trying to figure out how to manage that without instituting a diet. I don’t want him to think there is anything wrong with the way he looks. I don’t want to do anything that might cause esteem issues now or in the future. I knew if I didn’t do something about it, the kids at school would inflict their own form of damage.  That’s when I came up with my Fit and Fun Holiday plan.

Inheritance

You won’t be surprised to know there’s a back-story. Both my husband and I struggle with our weight. I weighed nearly 10 lbs. at birth and never once in my life achieved a healthy weight.  I’ve been close. If I don’t actively manage my own eating habits, the pounds come back on. My son inherited my sweet tooth and his dad’s love of butter and salt. But I’m determined his experience will be different than mine.

One mother’s legacy

My mom was overweight her whole life. Her self-esteem was closely tied to her weight. She was a talented, smart, funny, energetic person who died feeling like she needed to lose weight. Even with a body wasted by terminal illness, she was still worried about the number on the scales. For most of her adult life she was morbidly obese. She was a binge eater. Her eating habits and related issues were easily transferred to her daughters. We lived in a conspiracy of eating followed by the shame of being overweight. Secretly, we’d yo-yo through every diet published, wacky or not. I attended my first Weight Watchers meeting with her when I was 12. We drove to another city to attend meetings where no one would know us.

Knowing better

I think you get the picture. Suffice it to say, at 46, I’ve figured this out and have a much different attitude about my weight than my mother did. I feel empowered by my actions. What I eat or don’t eat has little impact on my self-worth. I view my weight as a challenge to overcome, not an indicator of my value as a human being. I am gentle with myself as I am with other people. My mission with my own son is to ensure he doesn’t waste 25 years of his own life feeling bad about himself.

An Action Plan

If I wasn’t going to introduce the concept of dieting to my five-year-old, then the only way to combat a weight problem is to get moving. He liked the idea of “Fit and Fun” before he even knew what it was about. When you’re five, fun is fun. My goal is to have a physical activity lasting at least one hour in which we both participate. Swimming, cycling, hiking, walking and playing in the park were some of my ideas. I explained that every day of his school holiday (it’s summer here in Australia so kids are out of school) we would pick one thing and keep at it for an hour. He had a one-word response, “Yipee!”

Working our plan

We’re more than half way through our Fit and Fun School Holiday and we haven’t missed a session. Some days we do more than one activity. Lately, on his suggestion, we’ve been taking a picnic breakfast with us. He can’t wait to get started so I’m packing muesli, yogurt and fresh fruit to enjoy along the way. I admit it’s annoying being rushed through my first coffee by a helmet-wearing lunatic. Still, at 6:00 a.m. we’re not running into many people so it doesn’t matter how spritely I appear. On our mornings at the beach, we fit right into the rest of the early crowd.

The proof is NOT in the pudding

I’m starting to notice a difference in my son’s appearance. He’s more streamlined having lost his puffiness. (So have I!) His enthusiasm remains unbridled. As he hit the bicycle path in our local park last Friday he burst into song. Pedalling as fast as he could, at the top of his lungs he belted, “I believe I can fly! I believe I can touch the sky.”  Mission accomplished!

How do you get your family to join you in your fitness/healthy eating ways?


13 thoughts on “Fit and Fun ~Sarah

  1. Amy says:

    LOVED this post! I wish I hadn’t spent so long worrying about if the scale was going to let me have a good day. I’m reclaiming my power! Sarah – you’re doing a great job as a mom! Amy

    • Sarah Mitchell says:

      Thanks so much for your encouragment, Amy. I, too, have let the scales influence my mood. As a result, I will not weigh my son. I just don’t want him to ever feel like the number displayed is somehow related to his self-worth.

      Some days I feel like I’m doing a good job parenting. But, there are plenty of times when I get to the end of the day and knew I could have done better. I don’t know a mom that doesn’t feel the same way.

  2. Yum Yucky says:

    Look at him go on that bike! Oh, the joys of being 5.

    I struggle to get my family in on healthy foods, but I have had some success. I’m patient. Slow and steady and they’ll come to their senses. I don’t force-feed the healthy food issue. It works better that way.

    • Sarah Mitchell says:

      Yes, if my family gets a whiff of healthy, nutritious or diet, I’m doomed. I try to focus on making things my little boy likes. I try to prepare at least 3 veggies for the evening meal. I make sure there’s at least one he loves like sweet potatoes. To avoid total rejection and give him some control, I tell him he can pick one thing he doesn’t have to eat or even taste. That way I still get 2 vegetables in him and avoid a knock-down drag-out fight.

      Here’s one of my healthy foods secret weapons – the smoothie disguised as a milkshake.

      1/2 cup skim milk
      1/2 cup no fat vanilla yogurt
      1 ripe banana
      1 cup frozen fruit

      Blend. Pour into tall glass. Serve with a straw. Makes enough for 2. My son’s favorite flavor is blueberry. Mine is cherry. Any frozen fruit will do.

      Our favorite hot weather treat is to cut melon – rock melon (canteloupe) or honeydew – into long spears. Freeze. Eat like an iced lollie. (popcicle).

      Thank you for your comment.

    • Sarah Mitchell says:

      Hi Julie,

      Yes, it’s been a really fun project, to be sure. More fun than I imagined. The added bonus is that after I’ve worn him out with a lot of physical activity, I usually get an hour or two of peace while he plays quietly in his room or looks at books. He sleeps soundly and it’s no problem getting him to bed. I can’t understand what took me so long to come up with this plan.

  3. Nicole @ Geek Turned Athlete says:

    Growing up, we always had to have at least one veggie with our dinner. Dinner was not complete without a veggie. It was a rule, and a rule that I have since lived with by myself and with my husband. Having pizza? Have to have a side salad with it. Having pasta? Have to have a side salad with it. Get the idea? You end up eating more healthy calories than unhealthy. 😉

    • Sarah Mitchell says:

      Hi Nicole,

      That’s a great rule. My husband grew up in Scotland and their standard rule for an evening meal was meat, potato, and 3 veggies. He’s had to get used to being married to an American and our fixation with salad. I’ve had to get used to cooking more vegetables. Both compromises help with getting more balance in our diets.

      My little boy rejects salad. He won’t touch it. I figured out the thing he really objects to is lettuce. When I make our salad, I put some of the salad vegetables on his plate arranged in pretty patterns. Yes, he’s not having a salad but he’s eating bell pepper, zucchini, cucumbers, carrots, etc. It works for him and it works for me.

      I’m a reformed geek too, if that’s possible. 🙂

  4. Gina says:

    I loved this post.
    Sarah you are an inspiration.
    The thoughtfulness, intelligence and love instilled into your mothering goes way beyond food and calories.
    With a recipe for life like this I feel sure that you have found the magic key to health and longevity.

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