Does Parenting Make Being Healthy - and Thin - Too Hard?

Filed under: Opinions

They say nothing really changes when you turn 40. It's true. It's 41 that's the kicker.

I turned 41 last December and have since experienced all sorts of surprising changes, like hair where once there was none and eyes -- eyes which have always seen everything perfectly for four decades -- no longer able to process anything smaller than 14-point type.

Nothing has bothered me more, though, than watching my metabolism rapidly transform from Screaming Mimi to Slow Flo. I have gained 15 pounds in little more than a year-and-a-half. Fifteen!

How is that even possible? Wouldn't you need to eat ice cream, like, every day? Oh ... Wait a minute ...

I have always had the great fortune of having a good metabolism. I have regularly sampled the world's great ice creams, my favorite food, with abandon, never realizing that it wasn't normal to be able to consume so much sugar and high-fat dairy without blowing up like a balloon.

But the great gift I never realized I had been given has now expired. I have watched myself go up a size, and then another, and then another, to the point that I'd be much happier if I could go everywhere wearing an over-sized robe.

And it's not the numbers on the scale that matter. I'm not fat. I don't even like the word fat. It's all relative. We all have a weight range that, for us, feels most comfortable. What your range is has never mattered to me because I don't judge people by what they weigh. I do judge myself though, strangely. Now that I've left my comfortable range behind and lost the ability to wear 98 percent of my wardrobe, I'm not a happy camper.

Or eater.

This week, the Internet would have us believe that, for many moms, it is their kids that are making them mushy. As reported widely, and here on ParentDish, a new study has found that women with children younger than 5, eat more calories and get less exercise than those without children.

You're shocked, I know.

I've recently started a diet, and I'd like to point out that the study has it wrong. It's not just moms with kids younger than 5 who have it bad. My kids are 5 and 9, and it's very hard for me to eat properly with their ice-cream bars calling my name from the freezer and their yummy little snack cakes nearly spilling out of the snack drawer every time I walk by.

Both of them are naturally very thin, so I find myself cooking them delicious-smelling dinners using ingredients like butter and cream and cheese and bacon and then sitting down to a pile of lettuce, raw veggies and chicken with a scant smattering of oil and vinegar. Yuck.

It makes me want to rip my hair out. Or my palate.

I don't know how other women do it. I have actually avoided dieting because I knew I'd have to make two dinners, one for them and one for me, and I didn't want the hassle -- or the heartbreak -- of not being able to eat the good stuff.

And don't get me wrong, I am not blaming my kids. It is my responsibility alone to keep myself a healthy parent and find the time to exercise. I don't do it, though, and I do find that it is harder to get it done when one has so many other responsibilities, including raising children. How much can a woman do in one day?

What about you? Are you one of those people who rises at the crack of dawn to get exercise? Have you been able to steel yourself against the pleasures of food? Or are you, like this mom, learning to be happy with the skin you are in, and accepting of your body no matter the weight?

Tell me your story, mamas.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.