Sunday, June 07, 2009

My 15-year-old daughter, Lea (pronounced "Lee - ah"), is very petite at 4 feet 9 inches. Last August, a doctor appointment revealed that she and I weighed the same at 182. Her health and weight has been a source of anxiety for our family (and friends) for many years. For the past several years, our county has issued a letter to her father and I, letting us know that Lea’s weight is off the charts and they just wanted to make sure that we were aware (Yes, I find the letters offensive as they infer that I am indifferent to, or unaware of, my child’s condition).

While being careful not to nag, scold, or shame, I have encouraged Lea to be more physically active. She has declined, preferring to color in front of the television after school or listen to music in her room. I have encouraged her to be careful about the amount of sugar and carbs she consumes. She expressed indifference to modify her eating habits. I encouraged Lea to consider using SparkTeens but she thought that'd be stupid.

Lea would lament about how much pressure there was at school to “look the same as all the skinny girls” and she refused to go there. She said that she accepts herself as she is and she wished that I would accept her as she is, too. Of course, I assured her that I do! Lea has had her share of normal-to-acute teenage anxiety and depression, and yet she has fairly good self-esteem and plenty of independent pride. She has continued to resist me and I have not-so-silently worried.

It’s clear to me that "self-love" is the best weight-loss tool. I know that Lea‘s motivation would have come from within herself. So, while being sure to let her know how much I love her and value her exactly the way she is, I have encouraged Lea to understand health and to love and care for herself. I have encouraged Lea’s healthy sense of pride and personal responsibility. I told her that, although she is young and still learning about how her body works, she is the expert and owner of HERSELF. SHE is the one who will be caring for her body from now on. I promised to do my best to support, encourage, offer healthy choices, and get her professional guidance when called for and accepted.

I also tried to lead by example. When I lost 16 pounds with the help of SparkPeople this past year, I shared my excitement, awe, and pride in myself. I made sure to share with Lea and the rest of my family what behaviors I changed to achieve that success: eating breakfast , drinking at least 8 glasses of water everyday, counting and being aware of my calorie intake, eating more vegetables, trying to be more active, and, more than anything, paying attention to - and loving - myself.

Last August, Lea started high school. She had to almost sprint to get to her classes on time. I felt sorry for her on one hand. On the other hand, I thought those intermittent sprints would be good for her, especially, since otherwise, she was pretty sedentary.

Half way through the school year, Lea shared with me what she was learning about food and nutrition in her health class. I listened trying not to remind her too often that I’d been telling her the same things for years. She began to tell me, “Do you realize how many calories are in…?” And, “I don't really NEED that cookie. I will limit myself to one every other day.” And, "You know Mom; I just realized how many calories are in those crackers! I'm going to limit myself to five!" And, "You know what? I can eat smaller portions of food and still feel full!" She started eating breakfasts. After school, in front of the television, she ate more apples, limit her crackers, or opt to just drink a glass of water. These statements and new behaviors warmed my heart and I told her how proud I was of her that she was taking care of herself. I affirmed to her that she was making good, healthier choices.

I began to notice the clothes that were tight on her earlier in the year draped a little looser on her. Noticing that she seemed to be trimming down a little, I praised her and encouraged her.

Last week, Lea stepped on my scales and invited me to come read the results. I braced myself – as I usually do – and looked down to read… 155 pounds! What?!

LEA LOST 27 POUNDS this past year!!! All this time, I've worried and Lea QUIETLY lost 27 pounds! That’s a lot more weight than the 16 pounds that I have been jabbering and bragging about losing!

I am SO, SO PROUD of my daughter! Lea is taking care of herself and I have no reason to believe that she won’t continue! I am relieved and thrilled. With a little education, awareness, and support, LEA IS CHOOSING TO MAKE DIFFERENT and HEALTHIER CHOICES FOR HERSELF. The day-by-day better choices and behaviors have paid off! I am thrilled to know that my child has the vision to care for herself and that she is on her way to more and more success!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    What a great story, you led she followed. emoticon
    2386 days ago
  • JOSI1959
    I absolutely love this story! I'm sure her weight loss has given her a new outlook on her life as well as a boost of self esteem as well as one proud momma.
    2509 days ago
    What a fabulous blog. Daughters are wonderful. She is a very lucky girl to be able to "get it" at such a young age. No crazy diets for her. Congrats. Lorraine
    3199 days ago
    So that was a Gods sent from Doctor to tell you . Even though you thought that was not nice to hear.

    Not many doctors will do that. Your Doctor cared enough. Now with the class in health. She got excited as well as you in her thinking. Then is taking action.

    It all went together.

    How wonderful! Mom and Daughter Celebration. You were the starter to see and she is the surprise for you.

    For sure she is the apple in your eye. Now you can enjoy each other in choices of food and places to go out too as Daughter and Mother. emoticon
    3199 days ago

    Comment edited on: 7/20/2009 4:32:06 PM
    I can see your joy in Lea's accomplishment! My DDs 19 and 21 have also "effortlessly" lost weight - mostly thru increased activity and no more mindless eating in front of the TV.

    Our daughters really are our role models, not the other way around. . .
    3232 days ago
  • JONES0333
    That is such a wonderful story. I am so proud for her and you! Tell her to keep up the good work and to be proud of her accomplishments. emoticon
    3234 days ago
    Congrats Lea! and to mom for all her great encouragement!
    Thanks for sharing her story!
    Have a great day!
    3237 days ago
    That is so wonderful!! It's amazing what can change a teens mind when they hear it elsewhere. It seems like when we as mom talk about something they choose to not listen to us. When they hear the same stuff elsewhere it clicks. Good Job Mom for being a good role model!!
    3242 days ago
    Congratulations Lea! emoticon
    3242 days ago
    I wonder if in some respect, your daughter was rebelling against the standard set by society for young women. And I think that she proved to everyone - and especially herself - that by making her OWN choices, she is indeed well on her way to becoming a woman of the world.

    WTG Lea!!!!

    PS I'm so glad that you posted your brag on my page! This blog made my day! :-)
    3242 days ago
    That is so wonderful! What a tough time --- high school--- I have a 17 yo and a 15 yo --both girls and then a 12 yo boy. It is so wonderful that she took such a positive step at such a tough time in life. You must be so proud of her.

    Take care of each other and celebrate her sucess. emoticon emoticon
    3242 days ago

    Comment edited on: 6/7/2009 2:16:01 PM
    3242 days ago
    She's doing great, and it helps that she's losing at her own pace and incentive. On the other hand, those 16 pounds that you've lost surely helped her see that it CAN be done! She'll probably continue with her success over the summer and I wouldn't be surprised if she's down another 10 pounds before school starts. This calls for a Mom & Daughter shopping trip!
    3242 days ago
    that is so wonderful! and even better because she did it when she was ready!
    3242 days ago
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    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.