Overweight kids/teens... - Mothering Forums

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Old 11-11-2009, 12:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I was watching Biggest loser last night.

Daniel was looking at his pictures as a teenager and said "I am so mad at myself for letting myself get like that.

I thought "Well, it wasn't YOU, it was your parent's" I wouldn't want my child to blame herself for something that I had control of. But, I wouldn't want her to be bitter either.

However, his parents weren't obese. Maybe not at their ideal weight. But, not obese.

How much control do we (as parents) REALLY have over our older kid's weight management? How much responsibility do we have when our child gets to 400lbs by age 19? Obviously, that's an extreme case... which is why he's on Biggest Loser. But, do parents have COMPLETE responsibility? Or should the child be held accountable too?
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Old 11-11-2009, 01:48 PM
 
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Of course parents do not have complete responsibility. You can some what control what happens in your own home. You can cook healthy meals, buy only healthy snacks. You can encourage your teens to join sports teams, ask them to go biking, walking, hiking etc.. with you but you cannot force them to. You also can't control what they eat while not with you. You can model and encourage healthy eating habits and talk to them and try to find out what underlying issues may be causing any binge eating or comfort eating (if that is an issue.)
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Old 11-11-2009, 02:09 PM
 
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I think that every parent has a responsibility to their kids, with the understanding that as they get older, you have to let them make their own decisions. It's like everything else, though... you have to give them a solid foundation on which to build themselves. A 14 yo without any direction from their parents (direction starting at the baby days and continuing through childhood and puberty) isn't going to know how to eat to fuel their body in a healthful manner. So my answer is ABSOLUTELY parents have a responsibility, but that responsibility is to lay the groundwork for a healthy teenage years and beyond.
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Old 11-11-2009, 02:09 PM
 
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Old 11-11-2009, 02:51 PM
 
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I think someone else's weight is none of my business, so they are not accountable to me at all.
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Old 11-11-2009, 03:01 PM
 
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It would be nice to think that we could control lots of aspects of our kids lives as they get older, but I think it's far more complicated than that. What I am slowly learning is that we set the best foundation we can, help our kids learn about the impact of their choices, provide support and direction when they are open to it, and allow them to learn from their experiences, successes and mistakes. It is very hard if you've been a hands on parent, but these kids are growing into young adults.

That said, if something was life threatening, ie sub. abuse, morbid obesity--it's time to step in and offer stronger direction/intervention.
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Old 11-11-2009, 03:09 PM
 
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If mom bought a new gallon of ice cream every day 'cause he went through the last one yesterday, then yes I hand her a good portion of responsibility.

If dad took him to McDonalds every day after school 'cause he wanted a Big Mac to tide him over til dinner, then yes I hand him a good portion of responsibility.

Not all but certainly most - as adults should know better. Honestly teens know better as well, but when we love someone we try to help them even if it makes them mad at us to do so.

If every boo boo is healed with a cookie, if every "good" doctor or dentist appointment is rewarded with an ice cream cone, if everything in a kid's life is related to food as the fix all then yes the parents are building a situation where food issues will occur.
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Old 11-11-2009, 03:12 PM
 
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It would be nice to think that we could control lots of aspects of our kids lives as they get older, but I think it's far more complicated than that. What I am slowly learning is that we set the best foundation we can, help our kids learn about the impact of their choices, provide support and direction when they are open to it, and allow them to learn from their experiences, successes and mistakes. It is very hard if you've been a hands on parent, but these kids are growing into young adults.

That said, if something was life threatening, ie sub. abuse, morbid obesity--it's time to step in and offer stronger direction/intervention.
Well said!! I will do the best I can by modeling a healthy lifestyle (we are active walkers/hikers/swimmers people) and modeling healthy eating. We don't do junk food but I don't forbid it ever. I hope to teach him moderation in all things-including moderation.
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Old 11-11-2009, 04:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well said!! I will do the best I can by modeling a healthy lifestyle (we are active walkers/hikers/swimmers people) and modeling healthy eating. We don't do junk food but I don't forbid it ever. I hope to teach him moderation in all things-including moderation.
I agree with this. I don't BUY a ton of junk food, but I will get what they ask me for. (within reason) and when it's gone it's gone.

WHen I was a kid.. before cable tv, video games, or anything else that would keep kids inside all day.. We played outside whenever we had free time. We ran, climbed trees, rode bikes for miles, played street games until late into the night. So, we were all thin.

BUT, not everybody is like that. I had a neighbor friend who stayed inside with her best friends all day, all summer long. They played monopoly every single day. It seemed like a giant geeky waste of time to me, but they loved it! They used the dining room table, and kept the game going all the time. When they weren't playing board games, they read books. They would trade books and call each other to talk about the books.

Yet, they were all thin too. Even though they sat at a table all the time playing monopoly.
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Old 11-11-2009, 06:25 PM
 
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I speak as a mom who was overweight but active as a kid then at 17 chose to go to a nutritionist to get help and became a healthier weight, then in my early 20s again gained weight and in my late 20s I lost 100lbs (became a personal trainer) and kept it off for about 5-6 years with a healthy lifestyle...then I became pregnant at 34 and gained around 100lbs....and again struggle with my weight-
I believe it is important as parents to be well educated on nutrition and exercise. Lead by example on nutritional choices and exercise. We designate Saturday as a free day....so if candy is wanted that is the day it can be had. When Tyr wants a treat he asks if it is Saturday...the occassional lollipop is not a big deal on other days...but anything more than that waits until Saturday.
I believe the blame for obese little kids falls on the parents (esp preschoolers). Older kids at school need to take responsibility for what they eat and how active they are and take a role in food prep....that aside parents need to be good role models.

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Old 11-11-2009, 08:45 PM
 
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I don't think it is good enough to say "well we don't do "bad" food at our house so they will learn good habits" 'cause quite frankly that is what both mine & dh's parents did. We were both thin as children/teens but struggle with our weight now & a HUGE part of that is becasue we did NOT learn how to deal the easy accessibility of "bad" food all. the. time. in the real world (my mother's controlled house is not the real world).

I struggle every day with how I will teach my children how to eat healthy easily (without it becoming a daily struggle for them like it is for me) by being comfortable with the choices available. For me the environment of not having the "bad" food flet deprived & still to this day I feel like I have very little control over myself around these things because I still feel like I have to have as much of it as I can before it is gone again ('cause that is how we had access to this stuff).

So, yes as parents I definitely think there is responsibility if they are obese as children & teens but I also think that the skills we learn or don't learn form how we are as adults. Not allowing children to make some decisions with food makes it difficult for them to make them as adults.

Please don't see this as me blaming my mom for my weight, I don't, but I do acknowledge that part of the reason I have issues with food is because I never got to make food decisions as a child, I never felt like I had any control in that department.

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Old 11-11-2009, 09:03 PM
 
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Weight is one of the subjects where a great amount of misinformation is floating around.

I recommend reading Ellyn Satter's books for more information, but it's not as easy " oh the lazy pig just ate too much".
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Old 11-11-2009, 09:04 PM
 
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I think parents have 80% responsibility. I think up to the tween years you can control what your dc eat and how they eat, and after that their habits (good or bad) are mostly formed.

The biggest factor is genes.
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Old 11-11-2009, 09:12 PM
 
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A lot of my weight problems have come from never getting in the habit of preparing and eating meals at set times. And not having easy healthy food available.

Even just stuff as easy as having carrots cut up in the fridge to eat with the ranch dressing would've helped (what I actually ate? bread.)

Because I didn't have those habits as a kid, it's been a fight to get them.
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Old 11-11-2009, 10:47 PM
 
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I don't think it is good enough to say "well we don't do "bad" food at our house so they will learn good habits" 'cause quite frankly that is what both mine & dh's parents did. We were both thin as children/teens but struggle with our weight now & a HUGE part of that is becasue we did NOT learn how to deal the easy accessibility of "bad" food all. the. time. in the real world (my mother's controlled house is not the real world). ...
Please don't see this as me blaming my mom for my weight, I don't, but I do acknowledge that part of the reason I have issues with food is because I never got to make food decisions as a child, I never felt like I had any control in that department.
This may be true in your case, but there are many cases (myself and my sister, my MIL and her sisters) where children are raised in the same household and yet one sibling is normal weight and the others are overweight. So, I think the PP was right when she said it's very complicated and it's hard even in retrospect to assign responsibility or pinpoint the reason why any individual becomes obese.

I, for one, had very limited access to junk food as a child. My mother also never allowed me to cook (although she made me watch her cook a lot). I'm an adult who is a pretty decent cook and not overweight. My sister is a good cook, too, but she can't stop herself from eating junk and more importantly, overeating. Portion control is her weakness.
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Old 11-12-2009, 03:12 AM
 
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I put the "blame" 70% on my parents, 30% on me.

I was overweight at age 8 and have been obese ever since. My mom and dad were both obese until my mom had gastric bypass when I was 14. My grandma was also overweight my whole life. We never had vegetables and very rarely had fruit in the house, it was always twinkees, fudge cakes, star crunchies, etc. I stayed overnight at my grandma's on weekends and her way to destress from her week of being a teacher was to eat. We would go to the store and buy $20-$50 worth of total crap and eat it all night long. It was fun, but I realize now that it contributed a ton to my weight issues.

We didn't eat out more than twice a week, but you know when the Beanie Babies were the craze? McDonald's had those Teeny Beanie toys, and my mom would go to McDonald's and get 10 Happy Meals and we would eat them for dinner, and she'd do that three times a week to get all the toys.

We weren't an active family at all. I got my own TV and computer before I was a teenager, and mostly kept to myself. My brother and sister also were overweight, but never got quite as big as I did.

When I lost weight, I did it by myself. I remember once not eating dinner and my dad was yelling at me and I screamed "I'M JUST TIRED OF BEING FAT!" I lost weight by not eating. I didn't know how to cut calories. When I exercised, I would eat more because I felt like I earned it.

To this day, my family keeps only crap in the house. Yeah I could have learned self control and not eaten it, but I didn't. I could have learned more, or asked to see a nutritionist, or asked a doctor for help, but I didn't really know that. When I was 15 and my mom had her surgery, I remember being so excited because she said as soon as I was old enough I could have the surgery too.

I'm 23 now and still struggle with my weight. I wish that I had learned how to control this stuff in my more formative years, but I didn't. So now I have to work on it before my son turns out like I did, you know? I'm learning about veggies and fruits (90% of the things I see in the fresh produce section I never knew of before I turned 21.) I tried broccoli for the first time on accident when I was 19...luckily I loved it! So yeah, I place a lot of blame on my parents, but I realize that I need to shoulder some of that responsibility for not taking better care of myself as a child.

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Old 11-12-2009, 03:51 AM
 
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I put the "blame" 70% on my parents, 30% on me.
So yeah, I place a lot of blame on my parents, but I realize that I need to shoulder some of that responsibility for not taking better care of myself as a child.
Um, no, given your description it's more like 70% your parents, 25% your grandparents, and 5% you.
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Old 11-12-2009, 06:53 AM
 
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400lbs. by 19? To me, that seems like a major failure on the parents part. It's one thing to have a chubby kid/teen...it's another thing entirely for a child to be anywhere near 400lbs.

I think parents need to help their kids learn to eat well, not to overdo it, and also need to model those behaviors. As someone who was a fat kid, I honestly didn't know where to START! At 17 my mom and I finally did Weight Watchers together....I wish my mom would have helped me sooner because as a teen I really didn't know what to do on my own.
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Old 11-12-2009, 07:48 AM
 
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Um, no, given your description it's more like 70% your parents, 25% your grandparents, and 5% you.
My grandma IS basically my parent, so she counts in the 70%. It should be 30% my "fault," because I could have sought outside help, I could have learned stuff on my own, I could have sat down with my parents and had a serious talk about the whole thing with them, I could have taken control / gotten more self disciplined whatever. I remember having exercise routines and being really active when I was 10 and 11, I just never stuck with them. Every summer I swore I would lose weight, but I never did (except, ironically, the summer I discovered chatrooms. I couldn't type and eat at the same time, so my junk intake went way down.) If I had taken responsibility for myself, I don't think I'd be where I am today. So I do place a lot of blame on my parents (since they are the ones who bought the food/fed us,) but I definitely deserve a large part of it.

Sorry if I don't make sense. I'm on some sweet drugs atm

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Old 11-12-2009, 11:52 AM
 
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A lot of the people I know who struggle with weight were put on diets as children. I do think a family's lifestyle is important and often under the control of the adults for a while (although this changes as your child gets older; also some kids are more drawn to sports than others, etc.)

For me one of the first steps in having a healthy relationship to food and to other human beings regardless of weight is to not watch shows like the biggest loser.

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Old 11-12-2009, 12:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Sorry if I don't make sense. I'm on some sweet drugs atm
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Old 11-12-2009, 01:17 PM
 
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For me one of the first steps in having a healthy relationship to food and to other human beings regardless of weight is to not watch shows like the biggest loser.
I have to disagree with you on this. I find a lot of the moments that the participants go through in regards to why they comfort eat & hold on to the weight can be enlightening. It is also very motivating to me to see people who are not stick thin working out hard. Does the show have some downsides - sure, but overall I find it to be inspiring.

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Old 11-12-2009, 01:40 PM
 
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I don't know. My kids are older and play sports, so I hear what moms of *some* teenage girls say about their daughters bodies and weight. The idea that parents are responsible for keeping their kids from becoming overweight is taken to an extreme by many mainstream parents. It's quite normal for moms to tell their daughters that they can't ice cream because it will make them fat and/or tell them that they have to play sports so they won't get fat. Not getting fat is really, really important to a lot of people in our culture and many moms think their child's weight is a reflection of how good of a parent they are.

Judging other people's parenting based on their kids' weight (which is the only place a thread like this can go) is a slippery slope. You really can't evaluate some one else's insides based on their outsides, and you can't figure out if another family is handling food and exercise issues well based on sizing up their kids.

I do feel it is my responsbility to feed my kids mostly healthy foods without letting food become a control issue, and to help them find ways they like to be active that promote fitness now as well as life long.

That being said, one of my DDs is slim and muscular and the other is chubby. Is it genes (both my DH and I have been very overweight in the past)? Am I doing something wrong? Should I be more controlling with food? I don't know. I do know that *for me* to make my chubby DD look slender would require a switch in my parenting that goes against how I feel I should treat her as a human being.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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Old 11-12-2009, 03:13 PM
 
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For me (morbidly obese) one of the biggest things that my parents could have done differently would be to teach me what it felt like to eat until I'm full. Both my parents had small appetites growing up, and as a healthy, normal, growing kid and teenager, it's quite possible that I actually needed more calories a day than either of them. Didn't get it, certainly not in the form of healthy foods at mealtimes. So I snacked- and whilst I didn't pile on the pounds then, and wasn't overweight until I started university, I did not have the life habits that I needed. Now, we go to my mums and my 10yo is hungry after every meal, because she cooks small portions of meat and a dab of several different kinds of vegetables and it just isn't enough to fill him up. That's been eye-opening for me, seeing history repeat itself.
It would also have been appreciated if someone had maybe mentioned that just because I wasn't the thinnest girl in my class, that didn't mean I was fat. I internalised the bad eating habits and poor self-image of a fat person a long time before I actually started gaining weight.

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Old 11-12-2009, 03:27 PM
 
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I thought "Well, it wasn't YOU, it was your parent's" I wouldn't want my child to blame herself for something that I had control of. But, I wouldn't want her to be bitter either.
I don't think this has been said yet -

Daniel is now an adult, so it was up to him to take responsibility for his own health and his own body. Regardless of how he got that way, he had to choose to get healthy. And, he did. I think it's amazing that he accepted responsibility and made changes. I honestly don't know if he, or any of the other consestants, could have done it if they continued to blame others for their obesity.

I find The Biggest Loser to be quite inspiring.
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Old 11-12-2009, 03:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't think this has been said yet -

Daniel is now an adult, so it was up to him to take responsibility for his own health and his own body. Regardless of how he got that way, he had to choose to get healthy. And, he did. I think it's amazing that he accepted responsibility and made changes. I honestly don't know if he, or any of the other consestants, could have done it if they continued to blame others for their obesity.

I find The Biggest Loser to be quite inspiring.
I know. I keep telling myself that he is making his own choices now. I just feel bad for him that he's going through this. He's what?? 20 now?

I didn't see how long he's been heavy. Maybe he didn't start gaining weight til his teens. He made those food choices by that age. But, if he's been heavy since he was eight, then, I'd have to think his parents bought him that food, they let him get more food than he needed. I can't imagine how hard it is to stop a child who loves to eat from eating. But, as hard as it would be, I think it's a parent's job to do that.

I also don't expect everybody to be active. Not everybody IS active, some people just aren't ever going to want to join sports or run in the morning.

I don't know why exactly.. It just made me feel really bad for him when he said that. I wondered if he secretly WANTED to say "I'm so mad at my mom for letting me get like that".?
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Old 11-12-2009, 04:06 PM
 
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It would also have been appreciated if someone had maybe mentioned that just because I wasn't the thinnest girl in my class, that didn't mean I was fat. I internalised the bad eating habits and poor self-image of a fat person a long time before I actually started gaining weight.
I had a bit of this, too. From about 8 or 9, I thought I was fat, and a couple of the other kids called me fat. I look back at pictures, and I just wasn't. I have big bones, and big breasts (and I got those younger than most of the girls in my class) and I would never, ever have been petite. But, I wasn't fat. I wasn't even really fat when I graduated...could have maybe lost 5 pounds, but that was really it. I was healthy (well...aside from my drinking and smoking...) and active and ate really well. But, I thought I was a really fat person. Unfortunately, that did end up affecting my mental self-portrait in a way that also impacted on my crappy emotional eating habits.

I'm actually kind of split about food. I'm at home, making green smoothies and starting my day with plain eggs and an apple, and making kale chips for me and the kids to snack on. We stock some dried fruit and raw seeds and nuts. My kids "go to" snacks are fruit, yogurt, cheese, nuts, etc. We rarely ever eat dessert. We have an occasional pack of something to snack on (right now, in fact, there's a part pack of fig newtons in the pantry) - but not more than once a month, if that. Nutritional superstars we're not, but we eat pretty well. OTOH, I can easily buy a bag of candy for myself while out shopping and eat it all on the way home. My kids don't do that, but I do. I'm guessing that's why I'm morbidly obese, and none of them are even slightly heavy. I hope they hold onto that.

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Old 11-12-2009, 04:19 PM
 
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. Both my parents had small appetites growing up, and as a healthy, normal, growing kid and teenager, it's quite possible that I actually needed more calories a day than either of them.
YES!!! I'm a WW lifetime member and I'm familier with the WW program for teens. It is amazing to me how much food a teen needs to eat every day. The amount that a teen can eat and still lose weight is far more than I can eat and maintain, so the amount of food that an active teen who doesn't need to lose *should* eat is completely beyound what most women who are at a good weight can imagine consuming. I think that a lot of moms underfeed their teens, esp. their teen daughters.

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It would also have been appreciated if someone had maybe mentioned that just because I wasn't the thinnest girl in my class, that didn't mean I was fat. I internalised the bad eating habits and poor self-image of a fat person a long time before I actually started gaining weight.


There's really no respect in our society for different body types. VERY few women I know are happy with their weight and their bodies. Before the obesity epidemic, people weren't all that thin. What is at the top of the healthy weight range was more common, but many people in our culture think that is *fat* for a woman. You most likely were at a healthy weight (or very close to it) and yet got messages that you were fat. The messages effected your self image, which effected your behavoir, and the through the domino effect, you eventually made your outsides match the way you felt on the inside.

(You can make a change when you are ready. None of us is stick were we currently are. )

There's also little understanding of the mental health side of carrying around extra weight. I'm the survivor of a sexual assault, and for years carrying around 70 extra pounds made me feel safer. It made me invisable. I decided to lose the extra weight because of a wake up call with my health, but eventually had to get into therapy to deal with the issues that made me feel safer heavier.

I never judge heavy people because I don't have any idea what they are going through. The same is true for a very heavy younger person. You never really know what has already happened to them.

I don't care for the shows like The Biggest Loser because I find them negative, but to each his own.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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Old 11-12-2009, 04:23 PM
 
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I don't know why exactly.. It just made me feel really bad for him when he said that. I wondered if he secretly WANTED to say "I'm so mad at my mom for letting me get like that".?
Maybe he does feel that way, but I got the feeling that he didn't.

And, I think that, while parents play a role in childhood obesity certainly, there are so many other factors. Genes, our culture, advertising, over-indulgent grandparents, etc.

I think the true healing comes for the contestants when they realize that regardless of how they got there, they are in control of whether or not they succeed. I think part of the journey for them is making peace with their past and moving beyond it.

Did you know that Amanda is only 19? She wasn't as heavy as Daniel, but still so young.

What I thought was truly sad was when Daniel visited the guy he started the previous season with who had fallen back into old habits.
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Old 11-12-2009, 04:36 PM
 
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My grandma IS basically my parent, so she counts in the 70%. It should be 30% my "fault," because I could have sought outside help, I could have learned stuff on my own, I could have sat down with my parents and had a serious talk about the whole thing with them, I could have taken control / gotten more self disciplined whatever. I remember having exercise routines and being really active when I was 10 and 11, I just never stuck with them. Every summer I swore I would lose weight, but I never did (except, ironically, the summer I discovered chatrooms. I couldn't type and eat at the same time, so my junk intake went way down.) If I had taken responsibility for myself, I don't think I'd be where I am today. So I do place a lot of blame on my parents (since they are the ones who bought the food/fed us,) but I definitely deserve a large part of it.

Sorry if I don't make sense. I'm on some sweet drugs atm
Say you're reading a post from another mama here whose parents were heavily involved in drugs and alcohol. If this mama said she started drinking and doing drugs when she was pretty young, you'd feel horrible for her and might understand how this isn't her fault. She undoubtedly knew that drinking and doing drugs to excess was wrong and probably tried to quit now and again. But from the outside we can see how unrealistic it is to expect a person that young to effectively take control of such a very difficult situation, with no help from her parents and grandparents. Especially since the parents/grandparents basically set up the whole scenario. From the outside you might feel horrible that this other MDC mama being so hard on her little 10 y.o. self for not doing an adult's job.

Still thinking about this.

Edited to add, Kris, that I think it's apparent from your posts that intellectually at least, you have been taking responsibility for your self for a long time. But that process is gradual. You don't turn 13 y.o. and suddenly have all the developmental tools you need to resist temptation and lead a healthy life. It doesn't even happen when you turn 18.

I guess I'm just having a hard time assigning even 25% blame to teenager-you, much less 10 y.o. -you, for not being able to control that situation.

And now, ironically, I need to go eat a proper breakfast because my train of thought has derailed and I'm not making sense anymore.

Someone moved my effing cheese.
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