The Jacksons, Week 33: Mother and Son, 2.0

Filed under: Healthy Families Challenge

deidra jackson picture

A Japanese steakhouse chef has a grilled egg to throw? Jackson's there to catch it. He enjoyed a friends' wild dinner birthday party at Kabuki' Sushi Bar and Steak House in Oxford, Miss. recently. Credit: Deidra Jackson

I like to tell people who see the new me that I'm an upgrade of my former self.

I've shed more than 20 pounds, shaved some 10 inches from my waist, minimized my dreadful body mass index (stay tuned for the new BMI next week!), and increased my stamina and strength. Thanks to the Healthy Families Challenge, all these landmarks were possible -- with a good measure of personal determination and commitment, along with the guidance of University of Mississippi health and fitness experts who volunteered their services to help Jackson and me reach our goals and improve our physical and mental wellness.

But as I've achieved some grand milestones, Jackson, my 12-year-old son, has undergone his own transformation.

It seems that when we began this journey last October, he was just 11, a child. Now, he'll be 13 in December. I may be a changed woman, but Jackson is a young man.

As he inches toward adolescence, I've stepped back and noticed how he's changed since we began this very public voyage. He's visibly taller (I've still got a couple of inches on him, though, as I like to remind him); his voice is significantly deeper (you can hear it for yourself; compare our older videos with our newer ones); and he's more mature.

My boy still needs his mom nearby for guidance, no doubt; but as I continue to take care of him and steer him along the right paths, he also leads me. We have thought-provoking discussions, and now they come with a real give-and-take.

I love that.

How is the Jackson family doing? Check in on their progress!


Deep in the throes of trying to slim down, I only recently considered how my own self-image might be affecting him, and, most importantly, his impression of himself. You remember at the beginning stages of this Challenge, how I brazenly affirmed those times when I still dodged my eyes in bathroom mirrors because "I hate whom I see"?

When -- or if -- I project those feelings around my son, how must he feel about himself?

Honestly, he rarely reads these online musings, and would rather catch the videos each month. But I wonder what he thinks about me making such judgments about myself.

"Mom, stop being so hard on yourself," Jack responded recently when I talked negatively about my appearance. "It doesn't matter how you look, Mom. . .," he's said during my mad scrambles to apply makeup before we head out the door.

How can I make sure that Jackson has a good body image, even if I struggle with my own?
That was one question addressed in the "Weight Watchers Eat! Move! Play!," a parental guidebook I've raved about that encourages nutritious eating habits and active lifestyles among children and youth. In a chat with WeightWatchers.com, Dr. Lisa Thornton, a pediatrician and Lifetime member of Weight Watchers, says one strategy is to stop the self-hate.

Immediately.

"If you're constantly complaining about your weight or your love handles, you're communicating a world of negative information to your child," she says. "We really need to change our language when we're talking about our bodies. An accusatory tone doesn't work..."

Instead, talk to your son about how you can promote healthier living, Dr. Thornton would tell me.

Thankfully, during these past several months, Jackson and I have done much more of just that.

Ever growing, Jack's gained additional weight -- 17 pounds -- as he's shot up in height during these months. I'd like to think that he's put on more muscle, which was his primary goal from the start. So far, I don't see any reasons to be worried about Jack having any poor body- or self-image issues. Even as a youngster, he's always been instinctively personable and self-assured, holding his head up, looking people in the eye and exuding self-confidence, as you can see from my photo of him taken on a night out with his friends.

I know that along the way to adolescence, Jack will feel the inevitable bumps in the road. But -- if he'll let me -- I'll be there to help him persevere and press on.

Physically and mentally, already, we're both different people, new and improved.

Who's the rest of the competition? Check out all the challengers' latest updates here.



Check out how the other families are doing!

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