I’m a yo-yo dieter. I have struggled with my weight since I was a teenager. I will work hard and lose a ton of weight. I’ll look great, my health will improve, and I’ll be able to be more active. Then I gain it back and more. I’m betting this is frustrating to those in my life as sometimes I have a very restricted diet. Sound familiar? I think it is fair for me to say that many, many people have the same issue.
Why do I keep trying then? It’s not pure vanity like others may think. Yes, I love the idea of looking good in a swimsuit but that’s not my goal. In fact, I don’t desire to wear a bikini. My husband thinks I’m sexy no matter my weight and in my mind, I look good. I frequently diet so I can be healthy and active. My extended family has an extensive history of diabetes. I have seen first hand how diabetes can limit your life dramatically. I don’t want that to be me.
I struggle, though. Our society tends to revolve around food and not healthy food! It doesn’t help that healthy food is typically more expensive. If I’m asked to bring a dish to an event, I can spend $15 to bring a fruit salad or $2 to bring brownies. I am actively trying to do better with this. I have to remind myself that being unhealthy will cost me more in the long run.
It is also difficult to resist eating the unhealthy options that surround me. I have difficulty just eating one piece of candy or one chip or one bowl of ice cream. (Yes, one bowl of ice cream). Sugar is addictive and one bite does me in. I envy those that can eat a few bites, recognize that is enough, and stop. I struggle to stop eating even when full. Right now I’m doing better, but I have to look at it as an addiction. We all need food but we don’t need all the food we eat!
I want to comment on the recent stories I have seen floating around that show people taking pride in their large size. I’m happy people love themselves and can be satisfied with their bodies regardless of their size. I will caution, though, that we don’t get complacent. We need to focus on being healthy, no matter the size!
I work with a lot of adolescents who have trouble appropriately handling anger. When I ask them what they think they are supposed to do when someone upsets them, the number one answer is “ignore them.” I also hear adults telling the kids this all the time. How unrealistic is this?! If someone calls you a curse word, are you really able to ignore it? Maybe once or twice but what about five times? Probably not. And it wouldn’t be appropriate to ignore it if this continues to occur. We don’t want our kids to be verbally assaulted by peers regularly and do nothing. We want them to learn how to calm down and then assert themselves appropriately. Check out my previous blog on coping with anger.
So what should we as the adults say when an adolescent tells us that someone is calling them a name or talking about them. First, ask him if he needs a few minutes to calm down. This can be as simple as going to a different part of the room and taking some deep breaths. If the child is very upset, he may need to go to a different room or talk it out with someone. Then, once he is calmer, review how he can ask the peer to stop. Examples are “Don’t talk to me that way, it’s rude” or “It is not okay to speak to me that way” or even “I will have to report your behavior if it does not stop.” This can stop some peers from continuing their behaviors. For other kids, though, they will continue to be inappropriate. In those cases, you as the adult need to intervene. You need to talk to the peer that is acting inappropriately and at times give a consequence. The harassed kid needs to see he is supported.
A thought to end on. If a coworker called you a “B-” daily, I hope you would say something and if it continues I hope you would seek management support. We need to help our kids in the same way.
Stefanie F. Pisarkiewicz, LPC
Experience and information from a counselor and mother- sharing her two cents on children and teens.