Eating disorders and body image…or what kids learn from watching us, part 3

Eating disorders.  Does every kid who thinks she needs to lose a few pounds have one? No.  Many people, female and male, have body image issues.  While Hollywood and magazines can be partly to blame, kids also pick up these insecurities and problems at home.  Listening to their parent(s) always complain about how many pounds they need to lose or watching them go from one diet fad to the next rubs off.  They hear mom or dad call each other fat or tell the other to get their lazy butt off the couch and exercise.  Similarly, when mom or dad talk about or make fun of people they and/or their kids know for being fat, the kids are learning that their parent(s) don’t approve of fat people or that it’s okay to poke fun at them.
Here’s an example of a mother admitting that her struggles with an eating disorder exposed her daughter to it and may have led to her daughter’s problem:

“I had issues I needed to work on as well because I wasn’t setting a good example for her,” Dianna said. “I had a terrible eating disorder that I had for many, many years and I didn’t realize it and I had to face up to the fact that I was suffering as well. And a lot of what [Demi] went through with an eating disorder had to do with what she had seen growing up.”

I’m not a shrink or a medical expert, but in my opinion, an eating disorder doesn’t have to be anorexia or bulimia or some other “named” disease.  If someone is punishing herself in some way for being overweight, including severe anxiety or depression, she probably needs some help.  And remember, she doesn’t have to look or be overweight, she just has to think she is.  Pay attention to your kids so you aren’t surprised by your child’s teacher or daycare worker tells you that he was talking about how fat he is or that he needs to lose weight, or, God forbid, the phone call from the school about him passing out in class.  Talk to them…about everything.  Pay attention to how they dress and what parts they are trying to hide (or reveal).
As parents, be careful about always bemoaning what the scale says or talking about those who are overweight.  I’m not saying that it’s okay to be obese…there’s lots of medical studies that show the detrimental effects of increased weight on the body.  What I’m saying is watch how you talk about weight and pay attention to your children.  It’s your job to help them grow up healthy.  That includes keeping them active, controlling how much and what they eat, and talking to them about weight if it becomes an issue.  Don’t tie attractiveness to weight, though.  Don’t tie their body image to some “ideal numerical weight”.  Make the conversation about being healthy.
Mostly, it all comes back to being careful about what we say and do around our kids.  They will learn from our examples, both positive and negative.  Try to make more of them positive.
Since I am writing about eating disorders, I’m including a few links to resources about them:

Forty -Three and Fit

It’s been waaaaay too many months since I’ve been to the gym.  I’ve been playing soccer three days a week and doing pushups, but it’s not the same as pushing and pulling heavier weight.  Due to coaching, I need to leave work earlier than normal, so during kids’ soccer season, I give up my gym time.  It’s a trade-off I gladly make.

Last week, I got back into the gym for the first time since February.  Forty-five minutes of cardio, preceded by Nautilus equipment for chest, back, and shoulders three days in a row.  I was sore through the weekend.

I’ve read recently that cardio first is the wrong order, so I’ve tried switching it up.  Not sure it makes much difference since I’m not trying to bulk up.  I’m simply going for a little more definition, maybe a bit more strength, and overall fitness.  I used to spend time on the ab machine.  I have also recently read that crunches are a wasted exercise. Planking, as they called it in the article, is supposedly better because it involves not only the front abs, but also the obliques and lower back muscles.  I’m not going to give up crunches completely**, but I have cut them from my gym time.  Much like pushups, now I plank multiple times a day at home or in my cubicle…wherever, whenever.  It also works to get the blood flowing a bit on those days when the sleep monster is attacking.

If you’ve got suggestions for quick and easy exercises that can be done in a set or two, a minute or so, that don’t cause a sweat storm, please let me know.  I’m not planning on giving up the gym, but the more time I can shave off away from the office, the earlier I can be headed home to the fam.

I’m on a mission.  I’m not out of shape.  I can outrun and outplay a lot of folks many years younger than me on the pitch, but I want to trim some fat and tone up.

It’s the year of Forty-three and Fit!

**Why not give up crunches completely?  While the article I read said that planking is better for working the core, including the abs, I still believe that muscles should be worked like they are going to be used.  My abs are used for sitting up, pulling my legs up, and other “crunching” type movements more than for simply holding myself rigid.  Maybe I’m wrong, but doing crunches certainly won’t hurt.

Still Life…or a rather uninspiring workout view

Still Life shot from the gymI love nature…the great outdoors…fresh (and not-so fresh) air.  In the middle of summer heat and humidity, I’ll drive home with the windows down instead of using the air conditioner…as long as I don’t have anywhere to go that I’d prefer not to show up at dressed as a big sweat spot.

That being said, this isn’t exactly the most exciting view (picture to the right) for cardio exercise.  Running in the treadmill staring out the window at trees right outside the window.  I know, I could always take my butt outside and run, but I don’t run at a constant pace very well without the treadmill.  The treadmill also provides the ability to adjust the incline which doesn’t vary much at all here where I work.  This gym also provides my favorite cardio machine, the StepMill, as well as the recumbent bike from which I’m composing this post.
StepMill 7000 PT

For those who aren’t inclined to watch the trees grow, there are the standard TVs with ESPN, Fox News, CNN Headline news, ESPN2, and a local network affiliate.  Or, you can stare at the digital display on whichever machine you’re using…or even at the other people at the gym…which I discussed in a couple previous posts:

At the gym…Watching the Ladies
At the gym…A Manly Competition

Maybe they left the trees this close to help cut down on the sun/heat coming in the windows. If they just relocated the first couple trees, though, they’d still accomplish that, in addition to opening up the view to more of the woods and critters, which would provide a look at slightly less still life.

Of course, I’m probably the only person who’s spent this much time pondering this view.

Early Morning Workout – ‘Hello, Monday!’

We almost never see anyone post (in our days of Facebook and blogs) or say “Woohoo, it’s Monday!  I can’t wait to get to work.”  I like my job and don’t generally express my greeting of Monday in this manner.  Today, though, I’m sitting on the recumbent bike in the gym as I compose this post.  It’s a much better way to face the day with the added  benefit of knocking out the exercise so regardless of what catastrophes may come today that make it impossible to escape the office during “lunch time,” I’m set.

In addition, studies have been done that indicate thar exercising in the morning gets the blood flowing to the brain and helps with alertness and mental clarity…and can’t we all benefit from that at work?

If you can swing it, give it a shot.  Maybe your love of Mondays will increase just a wee bit.  Maybe.

Any Day On The Pitch

Today, we were stuck on a field that got a wee bit cramped for my style of play.  I prefer bigger spaces with lots of room to move, longer crosses, and lots of running.  Some of the folks I play with aren’t as enthusiastic about all the running, though, and are just as happy playing on a smaller field.  Aside from a larger field fitting my style of play, it also allows me to get more exercise.  On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I have to hit the gym for the treadmill or recumbent bike, so I do what I can to get to the game every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday during lunch.  You can’t beat getting a good cardio workout while playing the sport you love.

Any day on the pitch is a good day!

Frailty (P366D11)

Every so often, I hear or read about the average life expectancy in the U.S. increasing.  Sometimes, it’s an increase of a few years.  I’m not even sure what the average life expectancy of males and females in the U.S. currently is, and that’s not really my point here.  My point in bringing up life expectancy was simply to mention that it keeps increasing, due to better drugs, better treatments for disease/chronic illnesses and conditions, earlier detection of problems/potential problems, and the list goes on.

But, I have to wonder, are we necessarily living more healthy lives or are we limping along, addicted to our life extending drugs.  Personally, I think we’re squarely in the latter situation.  Of course, I’m not a doctor, nurse, other medical specialist, or even a highly paid researcher.

When I was growing up, we didn’t know anyone who had a nut allergy, let alone an allergy severe enough that they had to carry an “EpiPen” around with them and know what all the ingredients are of any food they might consume at a friend’s house, external activity, or school lunchroom.  It seems to me that I can name three to five friends’ kids who are allergic to one thing or another, at least one severely.  What’s causing this increase?  I don’t know.  I suppose it’s possible the numbers haven’t increased, we just hear about it more.

I have a couple theories (that I’ll have to just wait for someone else to get paid to research and confirm or refute) about how we are weakening our bodies, though.  The first is a lack of getting outside…especially as kids, but also as adults.  Growing up, we didn’t have Wii and computers and the Internet, hundreds of TV channels, etc.  You’ve heard this all before.  We went outside in the fresh or not-so-fresh air (depending on where you lived) and played when it wasn’t raining, and sometimes even when it was raining.  We got exercise and were exposed to lots of germs and allergens.  Our bodies had to learn to fight stuff off…which leads to my second theory:  We have become an over anti-bacterialized nation.  Everything we buy now is anti-bacterial.  From dish soap, to hand soap, to hand lotion, and anti-bacterial hand sanitizer that doesn’t require water…just squirt, rub, and go.   Our household cleaners are also anti-bacterial, but that’s where it needs to be.  We need them to kill the germs when we’re cleaning our counter tops, sinks, toilet bowls, and tubs, among other things.  The problem is (here’s the theory) that by over-using the anti-bacterial stuff all the time, our bodies no longer have to learn to fight off germs so when we get exposed to/invaded by them, our bodies don’t know how to cope, giving the germs a better than usual chance to beat us down…which leads to the doc and more of those meds I mentioned earlier.

Soooo…even if my theories aren’t spot on, getting outside and exercising more certainly can’t hurt.

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