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Monday Mom challenge: Confront body image issues

Few among us have unequivocal acceptance of our bodies. We are our own worst critics to begin with; toss in some unrealistic representations of the female form in the media, and the circumstances are ripe for body image issues in even the most balanced woman. And if that’s not enough, we need to set appropriate examples of self-care and self-acceptance for our children. It’s a challenge some days, to be sure.

Woman looking in mirror

Whether you are a bean pole or curvy, your body is your body. You need to work with it and for it for optimal results. That means accepting what you cannot change — and working to change what you can for your health and longevity. It means setting the example of healthy living for your children and others around you. In a time when we are confronting childhood obesity issues in some children and eating disorders in others, dealing with body image issues as parents is more and more critical.

Difference is good!

No two bodies are exactly alike, nor is the same body the same over time. Our bodies move differently, and clothes fit them differently. They process foods differently and respond to exercise differently — different from each other, and different from day to day. Your body is a changing organism.

Changes and differences make our world interesting. Learning to work with what you have, not with some external ideal, is the start of acceptance and optimal health — and sets a great example to our kids.

Could your body image issues affect your child’s weight? Find out here.

Toward health

When working toward your body image issues, you may need some help. Your medical care provider can be a start. She can give you information on your baseline health, help you set goals if appropriate, and refer you to other experts who can help you address both the physical and emotional parts of body image. It won’t happen all at once; acceptance is a process.

Your friends and family can help, too. Being honest with those close to you about your efforts to stay healthy and project appropriate body confidence as an example to your children can help you make even more progress, whether your goal is to change your body for long-term health, or to accept the already mostly healthy body you have.

Do it for your kids

Regardless of your body issues, if working to address them for yourself isn’t enough, do it for your kids. Actions speak more loudly than words. Make the commitment to show them a healthy lifestyle, which means more than a single shape or size. Show them how making appropriate lifestyle changes affects health and longevity — yours and theirs.

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