Thursday, October 13, 2011

Breaking The Cycle........

The first time I realized I was part of a cycle that needed to be broken, I was 20 years old and in college. For a history class, I had to write an autobiography incorporating one of the topics given by my professor. I don't remember what the choices were but I decided to write about 'Breaking The Cycle.'  In my paper (on which I received a grade of A+), I discussed the cycles of poverty, abuse, teen parenting and (similar) partner choices in my family. I vowed to become a shining example (of what a responsible, successful woman is) for my then 3-year old daughter. I promised to teach her how to be a better decision-maker than I was. I wanted her to use my footsteps as a guide but not a designated route. However, it never occurred to me that there was another familial cycle that needed to be stopped.......the cycle of obesity. It wasn't until my daughter became pregnant last year and began 'eating like a pregnant woman' that I realized she may be on the path to becoming overweight.   

Prior to her pregnancy, she didn't eat alot and was more of a healthy eater than I was. Like most kids, she enjoyed eating chips, candy and sugar water juice, but she preferred my cooking over fast food, water over soft drinks and apples over cookies & sweets. I guess it helped that, although I was quick to order in, I never was much of a snack/junk food consumer. So, when she did have those things, they were nice treats. Around her 3rd month of pregnancy, I began to notice a big change in her eating habits. She was eating more chips, candy, sweet drinks and fast foods. Plus, she was staying up until all hours of the morning....eating! I warned her to slow down and be mindful of what she was putting in her mouth. I mean, she definitely had room to splurge since she only weighed about 115 lbs before pregnancy but, still, I told her to be careful. By the end of her pregnancy, she had gained around 35 lbs total. Not bad. It didn't take long, after she gave birth, for her body to 'bounce back.' She retained a few pounds, and went from a slim size 3 to a curvy 5 (whoopteedooooo!). I was happy that my daughter's post-pregnancy body was one she could still flaunt, and hoped her regular eating habits would resume. But, that didn't happen. Her body didn't change too much but her life did......drastically.

She went from being a carefree, full-time college student to a full-time working Mom who with many responsibilities. This, in addition to having household chores/responsibilities, as she still lives at home with me. Naturally, this lifestyle comes with a certain amount of unavoidable stress, and having once been in her shoes, I can relate. Unconsciously, I dealt with my stress by staying up late and eating., not realizing it was a huge problem until I was way past the 'borderline.' After one particular time of 'shaking my finger' at my daughter as she partook in some fast food meal at some ungodly hour, I realized there are glaring similarities in mine and my daughter's behaviors. She also deals with her stress by staying up late and eating. Slim-gene aside, (I warned her) if she continues on this path, she will find herself in the plus-size section of somebody's store, holding back her tears. When I tell her these things, she just laughs and blows me off, saying/thinking it won't happen. Granted, she takes more after her Dad's every damn thing naturally slim body size/type than my voluptuous, fluffy side of the family but, still, the possibility remains. 

Up until I became pregnant with her, I was always a slim-'normal' sized female. I weighed around 135 lbs. pre-pregnancy, gained a whopping 50 lbs and weighed 150 post-pregnancy. Over the years, my weight increased as my life fell apart responsibilities increased. I went away to college when my daughter was 3 years old and I still weighed 150 lbs. At the end of my first year of college, I weighed 162 lbs.  At the end of my second year, I weighed 180 lbs. In the years following, my weight increased gradually. I've been in my current weight range of 234-240 lbs. for about 7 years. No one could/would have predicted that I would become an obese person and it still boggles my mother's mind that I went from 'that' to 'this.'

I pray that my daughter will take heed to my warnings one day soon. However, I know my actions will speak much louder than my words.Getting my health and body under control is as important for me as it is for my daughter and, now also, my gran'diva. This cycle has got to be stopped. Meanwhile, I feel like a mother helplessly watching her child walk onto a busy highway......

Have you broken or vowed to break a vicious family cycle?  How did you do it and what was your family's response?