A universal truth I only discovered about 4 years ago. It’s tough being a parent. Every day we make dozens of decisions, small points of inflection that create a path. A path our child will follow and at some point deviate and create for themselves.
As many of you already know I’m married with 1 daughter. She often pops up on my social feeds as a mini me and I like to highlight her antics.
But today I want to focus on how our choices affect our little ones. The choices that seem so insignificant in the moment actually create an imprint into long-term behaviours that can go on for generations to come.
Sounds serious doesn’t it? Guess what it is.
But to really drive this home we need to go back. Go back to my childhood and my relationship with my grandparents.
I can remember being a child and sleeping over at my grandparents a few weekends a month. We had an incredible time. I remember laughing so hard my belly hurt. I remember feeling full of love and adoration for and from my grandparents. Some of my fondest memories in my childhood are with them.
Here’s the thing however. Their choices around movement and food somewhat stuck with me. In particular my grandmother who struggled with her weight regularly teetering over 200lbs and constantly ‘almost diabetic’. Her weight wasn’t the issue. It was her poor health due to her lifestyle choices that worried me. Ultimately she died far to early in life at the young age of 68.
She would have candies and chocolate hidden all over the house and was an incredible baker always with something fresh to taste. There was pop and other sweets always around. Food was at the centre of our days and evenings together. Movement on the other hand was limited to perhaps a walk around the block.
When I was 16 my grandparents passed away within 6 months of one another. I like to believe that they couldn’t live without the other and so that was their path. But when my grandmother passed away I vowed to change the direction of my own health and never end up in a self-imposed health crisis.
However, I had a lot of work to do. I was already hiding chocolate in my room and it was around this time I had begun bingeing and dieting regularly.
I had seen my grandmothers behaviour for so long that it imprinted on me as a method for managing stress and challenges in life. I was stuck in this cycle until only the last few years when I became a mother myself.
Upon this happening I sourced the support of Coach JVB who one on one supported me to educate me on nutrition and training. She helped me link behaviours to my goals and challenged me constantly to rebuild my relationship with food. It was even her who inspired me to take my mission beyond myself and start this platform.
But here’s what I realized. I would finally have the opportunity to break a generational cycle of poor relationship with food and movement. Becoming a mother and implementing my own improvements helped me influence my daughter towards different behaviours.
Here’s how I break it down and consciously influence how she inherits behaviour knowing it’s all the little things that add up:
1) There is no such thing as good food or bad food. Food is fuel and serves a purpose to nourish our bodies. However some food fuels us better than others so we make conscious choices. Like fuel for a car. The better the fuel the better the performance.
2) Movement is to be enjoyed. Select exercise you love. Whether it be walking, running, dancing or working out at home. Find what you love and commit to it the way you would an appointment for work.
3) I vowed to never again say the words: ‘I look fat or I feel fat’. That vocabulary and view of self is not welcome in our home. We dress to accentuate our favourite curves. We wear clothes and colours that work for our complexion and personal style. We dress to feel good not to hide fat.
4) Positive thinking and self-talk is a must. In our home the Mindset is we can and we will. It is about Achieving Together rather than achieving alone. It’s about persisting with consistent effort, believing in success rather than giving up on self or the team.
5) Lastly it’s keeping the vision alive of love, family and laughter that my grandparents instilled but under different and more enlightened health conscious points of view.
I realize that every day I do 100 things that can influence my daughter in long-term ways. How I get dressed to the words I utter under my breath to the food I put on our table and the small behaviours that may seem insignificant in the moment. She is taking in everything at all time.
I would encourage you to think about your own mindset, lifestyle and context to find the root causes for your own behaviour and ultimately how that influences those around you.