I think that, as a parent, the most important thing is for you to get on board with your child’s plan. Don’t tell them they can’t have ice cream and then sit down and have a bowl of ice cream yourself. Also, I don’t think you should ever tell them that they can’t have something, because it is all about moderation. We still go out for ice cream, so it’s not like she is never again going to have ice cream, but we don’t go out for ice cream every week. I drink water and milk rather than juice and soda because I am on board with her. Getting on the program with them is not going to hurt anybody, because it’s completely healthy and it’s not a diet; it’s just healthful living. So there is no reason that everyone shouldn’t get involved. Just be there for them.
The importance of encouragement
The one thing that I would want people to know about my family– my children– is that I always tell them that I love them no matter how big they are– no matter what. It’s so tough for children these days; if you look at TV or magazines, everybody wants to be a model size– everyone wants to look a certain way. I tell my children that we’re not all meant to be the same size or to look alike; everybody’s different. I really try to tell them that they’re special no matter what, and I try to encourage them that this is just one obstacle that they can move out of the way. I just let them know that I want them to be healthy and happy and that this is part of that. Don’t put kids down; if they do eat something that they’re not supposed to eat, just try to redirect them in a nice manner, because it’s tough; too much food is a very big temptation.
We start over again after setbacks. We look at it afresh. That’s what we did last time when she’d put almost all of the weight she had lost back on. We just tried to start over; we started the calendar anew, with new exercises. We even had a prize for just going into Boston and going through the clinic appointments– an extra hour of TV or some time with me. Something simple, so that we kind of bonded again and said, “We’re at it again; this is what we do.” So we looked at it afresh.
I think being overweight is a big social issue. Being called names, not being able to find the right clothes– these are real problems. You can find bigger sizes in clothes online at many stores; some go up to size twenty. I’d do anything to help her lose weight. I just tell her, “It’s for your health. The biggest issue is your health.”
Keep trying! It is a lifelong process. There are setbacks sometimes, but keep trying.
You know the old saying: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Never give up; it’s always worth it to make a little effort. If you fall down in the morning, pick it up at lunch. If you fall down at lunch, pick it up at dinner. Just keep going, and don’t let it get you down. Keep going and keep trying. If you hammer at a door long enough, eventually either someone will answer it or you’ll knock it down. So just keep trying.
Anything is possible. Don’t get discouraged; just love your child for who he is, and accept him with all of the good that he has. Stress those things more than the things he has to work on. And try to be creative; what works for one person might not work for another, but do what you can and then pass it on to others who might need help.
She’s been the inspiration; she’s really my inspiration. I always say that if she had been any different, it would have been more difficult for me. But that’s just the way she is. If they’re not like that, I think you just have to be strong and realize how difficult it is and what they’re going through. It’s not easy, but once they get into it and they feel good about themselves, you just want to keep reinforcing how good they look, and how good they feel.
Giving it a try
Try to let your children know that you’re taking them to the clinic because you love them, you’re concerned about them and you want them to be happy, and that it’s worth giving whatever it is a try. There’s nothing to lose, and you may end up healthier and happier. Hopefully that’s the goal, and that’s what will happen. But I think you have to convince them of your own motivation, and suggest that they may actually feel better, and not just feel miserable.
A change of lifestyle
I think the main thing that children with weight issues need is support. They need positive reinforcement, and they need to know that they’re not doing something wrong. This is something that is going to take a while to work on, and you have to work on it together. It’s basically a change of lifestyle; I’ve changed the way I cook, and the way I serve food at dinner. Instead of serving from the table, I serve from the stove now, and that helps a lot. And activity is also important– getting involved in family activities and cutting back on TV time really helped.