A Fitness Challenge of a Different but Serious Kind

Today I have had to confront an uncomfortable truth.My beautiful, sensitive, intelligent, articulate child is an overweight child.

This is not my opinion, but a fact based on her BMI. She has always been bigger than average and I do mean always because she was 10 lbs 4oz at birth (no I didn’t have a c-section, yes it did hurt) but over the years, her weight has always been at the upper end of average. Now, having hit puberty, in the last few months, she has crept into being overweight.

After a lot of thought, I weighed her. I told her it was just something we do when you start seeing the changes in your body as you grow up and she seemed to think nothing of it. It is very important to me that I do not allow her self-esteem to be affected by this.

Finding out her current BMI and what her correct BMI and weight should be was more challenging than I had expected. In these times when we are regularly told about how childhood obesity is our new health crisis, I thought I would have a plethora of information at my fingertips. However, my searches for correct BMI information thew out hard-to-read charts aimed at professionals and apps from dubious sources.

Once I had identified what my daughter’s BMI currently is, it was even harder to find out what it should be to have her in the Healthy Range. My Googling the term “Irish child healthy BMI” brought me to pages produced by Weightloss Companies, Coca Cola (yes!), insurance companies and finally an Irish Health Service (HSE) website, that basically told me that during puberty, weight and height fluctuates so much that a normal BMI is anywhere between 14 and 20.5.

I still did not know what she should weigh to be healthy! Eventually, I settled upon this table http://www.whyweightireland.ie/childrens-bmi/ as my guideline. I am not too happy about its source but it was the best and easiest I could find.

Ok, so once I had established this hard truth, what am I going to do about it? Because it is the responsibility of me and her father, totally. I have tried hard over the years to prevent us being at this point. She is a picky eater and I have spent her full life trying to teach her healthy eating habits and encourage her to eat well, in sensible portion sizes. Not really inclined towards exercise too much by personality and having some co-ordination challenges, I have spent years and a small fortune on dance classes as this was the one active thing she loved. However, in the last year, she has gone off this too. We swim when we can but yes, her activity levels have been falling off. So, based on my own knowledge, reasearch and experience, here is my plan:

1. Increase her activity levels – we are going to get her out walking everyday for at least 30 mins at a good pace. She chooses where we walk and if she wants to go further. Today, she included a few jogs so I will encourage this as much as possible. I also need to be creative about how else to up her activity as a lot of the suggestions I read on line we already do (play outside, limit screen time, do chores). If you have any suggestions, they would be very welcome.

2. Watch her food intake. 1 slice of bread less, 1 potato less each day, a slightly smaller pasta portion soon adds up. Keep a record of the ‘treats’ and limit to once a week. We are already a house where fruit and veg dominate, we do not buy crisps, fizzy drinks or biscuits and cakes are usually home-baked once every 2 weeks. We eat very few take-aways and lots of salad and veg.

3. Try not to worry. All the advice is not to have her lose weight but rather maintain her current weight as she grows. I know if I worry, she will pick up on it and I would rather keep this as low key as possible.

4. Continue to be a good role model. For every run I do and salad and vegetable I eat, the better I am educating her.

So there you are. Have you any experience with this challenge? Any ideas? I just want her to be fit, healthy and happy.

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4 thoughts on “A Fitness Challenge of a Different but Serious Kind

  1. If she liked dancing but she’s gone off it a bit lately you could try something like Zumba? High level dance type activity class but a bit different and ‘funky’ which may appeal! It’s very popular so i’m sure you could find a class near you.

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