As an adjective! Ok, maybe not what you thought this post was going to be about but stay with me here!!
Words are a beautiful thing, but we tend to turn the meaning of them and attach negative connotations to them.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, aside from having a healthy baby, a huge thought weighed on my mind. How could I raise a daughter in this world to be positive about herself, her mind and her body while tuning out all the negativity that surrounds our beings? Could I create a better narrative so that even with all the horrible self image talk around her she would be able to tune it out and know better? Would she be able to grow up without learning the word "diet" before she was even old enough to know what it means?
The first part was changing how I viewed and talked about my own body. Being a runner has made me realize finally my body is more than just how I look. Being a mom made me believe that. I’ve done things physically I never would have dreamed were possible—distances, paces and endurance are just a few of them. I had to stop looking at my body as something I constantly had to change in order to love it. I had to appreciate what it does for me on an every day basis, not for what the size tag on my clothes says.
Next, was tackling one the most over used word in the English language (usually used out of context as well.) FAT.
While a lot of people argue “words are words” and pull out the old playground phrase “sticks and stone can break my bones but words can never hurt me” I know words can hurt often more than physical hits. If I had a dollar for all the times I was called fat while at school or told I would be pretty if I lost weight I could pay for every race entry I could ever want. I didn't realize until I was much older that the word fat actually wasn't a dirty word but had good meaning too---talk about mind blown!!! 😲
I decided to stop giving as much power to words and not use them as a negative. Example: I don’t allow the word fat to be used as an adjective in our home. Fat is something that our bodies need, what some foods can contain, BUT NOT WHAT OUR BODY IS. Even someone who may be "overweight" is not fat, they are a person. They are a son, a daughter, a mother, a father—-a person to be respected. Not put into a category and be dismissed.
I do not talk negatively about my body in front of my daughter (ok, not perfect about that but I actively try) I tell her how strong we are, how we are healthy, and how our bodies do amazing things. I don’t tell her I can’t have the cookie today because I didn’t work out, I either have it if I want or tell her the truth that I don’t want one now. I never tell her she can’t have something because it’s bad for her, I’ll explain if it’s on the menu for today or not (Shout out to @anniepfit for that one). I want her to see food as enjoyment, fuel and fun. Not worrying about what the calorie count is or if she ate enough “good” food to “earn” dessert. We serve all foods together. If we eat the cookie first, great! If we eat the other foods first, that’s great too!
In our home there is no talk of “no no foods”, no room for “clean your plate and then you can have....” and no pressure surrounding what size we fit into. I strive for us to be healthy but I want her to grow up WANTING that life, not being forced to buy into diet culture, influencer pressure or to fit in with other people. This is one of the best gifts I can give her to instill "anti-diet" mindsets and mirror those ideals for her. Our kids absorb everything we do---lets give them a fighting chance!
I won’t always get it right. I can catch myself sometimes reverting back to what society preaches but I know that even with the missteps I’m trying to do better. Deleting fat from my word diet hasn’t been easy but 100% worth it in so many ways.
This can seem super overwhelming to depart from years and years of learning to pick ourselves apart. To make it seem less intimidating try simple switches:
Instead of saying that you “feel fat today” you can say my body is feeling tired/uncomfortable today, I’m going to hydrate to help my body feel better.
Don’t say you can’t have XYZ because you didn’t work out or already “ate like a pig”. It makes you automatically buy into the fact that you have to do something to eat. Want a reason??? HELLO, YOU ARE ALIVE—-congrats, you have a "reason" to eat.
Instead of saying you have big arms, thighs, etc. focus on how strong they are and what they allow you to do. (Run, jump, bike, etc) Express how lucky we are to be able to have strong muscles to do so many activities!
When it comes to exercise don’t say you HAVE to do it so you stay skinny, don’t gain weight, etc. When my daughter asks why I run, workout, bike or anything of that nature I explain that I enjoy it and it makes me feel strong. Movement is something to be celebrated, not to be punished with.
Our health, our bodies and our nourishment are gifts to be appreciated. Not something to be belittled by getting called fat.
Wanna talk about fat? Then let’s discuss how amazing avocados are. I’m sure we can all agree that those fats are amazingggggg.