Yesterday was quite the milestone; I ran five kilometres for the first time since I tried to run after Harry was born, when I started straight back with 10 kilometres and promptly injured myself. On puffing back to the house, with a stupid degree of pride, I decided it was something worth blogging about: ‘The Diary of an Unfit Mother’; it is only since seeing it in writing on the screen I realise the double entendre associated with such a title. I hope I am not ‘an unfit mother’, I often worry I am not doing well enough, but believe this is a common affliction for all conscientious parents. Rather, I am a physically unfit mother.
When I was 30, I weighed 10 stone 4 pounds, give or take a couple; cycled to work every day; went to circuit training at least once a week; ran once or twice a week; and could complete 10 kilometres in under one hour. I thought I was fat and unfit. Now, at 35, I weigh 11 stone 4 pounds; I drive to work; am lucky to make yoga once a month; and it takes me 37 minutes to run five kilometres (and this is progress). I wish I was as fat and unfit as I was five years ago.
In the past five years I have met my husband; moved four times, including to the other end of the country and back; got married; and had two babies within 20 months. In this time my husband has also had four career changes, including most recently returning to university to do a masters and PhD, while being primary child carer for the above mentioned babies. We have been busy.
I now find myself not planning any more children; in a job I enjoy, with slightly less antisocial hours than previously; with no other major life events planned; and a stone in weight to lose to get me back to where I should have been happy to be previously.
As Baz Luhrmann said “You are not as fat as you imagine”. Unfortunately I did not realise this at the time, and now I really am. I have promised myself however, if I get back to previous ‘fat’ me to be content with that. I was not happier, but I was healthier and believe there is no reason, other than my lack of self-control and willpower, why I cannot be both happy and healthy.
And so was born ‘The Diary of an Unfit Mother’. I am writing this for myself, as a reminder of my aims and progress, and in the hope that in the future my children can read it and be proud of me; if anyone else should stumble upon it and gain something from it then that is all good too. Putting my story, and weight, on the internet makes it real, and I hope will give me focus not to fail.
As a paediatrician, I know how important weight management and fitness are. I see overweight children in clinic far more frequently than I would like, invariably accompanied by overweight parents who are either in denial, or oblivious to the damage they are doing those they love the most. The consequences for children of being overweight are far reaching. Without even considering the type two diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and other health problems of the future, the psychological effects of being fat in school, and the associated negative self-image, can be irreparable. I still remember, years ago as an SHO, a consultant raising the topic with a (fat) mother of her child’s obesity. Her response: “He plays rugby and eats salad, it doesn’t bother him”; at the same time as she was saying this, he threw himself on the bed in floods of tears: not the actions of a child who is not bothered. Children of smokers are more likely to smoke; children of abusers are more likely to abuse; and children of obese people are more likely to be fat themselves. This is child abuse, as such there have been children put into care because their parents refuse to stop feeding them. As a parent, the health and beliefs of our children, although not defined by us, are shaped and guided. It is our responsibility to set a good example and stop this downward spiral into obesity.