Saturday, July 7, 2007

Family Baggage

This week's meeting was about the baggage we've inherited from our family. Our meeting leader warned us that it'd be a sensitive subject and wow, was it ever! I didn't think I had any family baggage around food but I was wrong. It isn't just about loving people with food, it's about other things including stress, over-eating, exercise (or lack thereof), genetics, sibling competition, sabotage, and other things our families may have taught us as we were growing up that have shaped our eating patterns more than we thought was possible.

When I was growing up, we didn't have much. My mom was a single mother and she worked very hard to put very basic food on our plates. When she had extra money or it was a special occasion, we'd get treats in the form of fattening food. "Good" food quickly became intertwined with happiness and feelings of well-being. As the years went on and finances became more stable, "good" food became more common. It got to the point where if I didn't have good food around, those feelings of despair and deprivation would surface - as it was when I was growing up. A recipe for future disaster? You bet.

The other thing that struck home to me was family habits around exercise. Our leader spoke of some families not encouraging exercise or to get moving. My family had a Jekyll/Hyde approach to it. We'd get taken out on long hikes which, for the most part, I hated because my family is rather dysfunctional. Hikes were just another outlet to be criticized and yelled at. My mom would also never let me sign up for extra-curricular sports because she didn't have time to devote to driving me around. I learned that exercise was a thing to be avoided because you'd be made to feel inferior and also because it was too much of an inconvenience. Another recipe for future disaster? You bet.

Here I am at the meeting, having all this wash over me, and finally understanding another piece to the puzzle that is the fat me. No wonder I didn't like exercise! No wonder I liked fattening food! But hey, you know what? I've been overcoming all of this. Exercise can be FUN! You can have good tasting food all the time without emotionally depriving yourself. Imagine that. And you know what? I've been overcoming this for months now. Now THAT's progress.

For anyone still reading along take some time to really think about what your family might have taught you about food and exercise. It's surprising how much family dynamics can have an impact on your health. If the brave members at the meeting who shared their stories are anything to go by, I wouldn't be surprised if it's affected every one of us on this journey to some extent. Some members spoke of sabotage from parents. Others, dealing with some form of abuse. And some spoke of old-fashioned being loved to fatness with food.

Our leader closed by telling us in a voice that almost brought me to tears that she is proud of us, each and every one of us for having the courage to be there. And from me to you, I'm passing along the same message. I'm proud of you all. For having the courage to meet challenges head on, not accept defeat, and go on, in spite of everything that you may have had to endure or that you are continuing to endure.

You can overcome and I believe in you all.


Jenera Healy said...

My grama was the woman that thought food was the best way to show love. You walk through her door and she'll have every sweet that you crave and then some. She gets a tad offended to this day if you turn down a food at her house. It's crazy but I can so relate to that.

Leslie said...

What a great post - good for you for *getting to the bottom of things* - you've had such great success so far in your journey - and you're taking such great steps to make sure it becomes a lifestyle change... you go girlie!