I’ve been thinking about the legacies we will leave behind when we have passed from this world. There is an elderly couple in our church who had 5 children. Those 5 children gave them 25 grandchildren. Those 25 grandchildren have given them 23 great-grandchildren, with several more on the way. She and her husband may not have great wealth, but they have left behind a legacy that will continue for generations to come. I’m not just talking about the children, but about their lifestyle, their heritage, their faith.
This made me think of what examples I am passing to my children. I’m grateful I now model the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. They will undoubtedly make their own choices as they grow and mature, but it is my hope they won’t have to live through the pain and shame I did. Life as an obese woman was hard. Hard physically and emotionally.
When I was obese I felt a lot of internal guilt with regards to what kind of example I was setting for my family by allowing myself to be so overweight. Every time I wasn’t able to fully participate in an activity the kids were doing, or every time I made an excuse to sit on the sidelines I felt guilty. I worried they would be embarrassed to be seen with me, or whether their friends would make fun of them for having a fat Mom. And on occasion their friends would ask my oldest, “Why is your mom so fat?”
It wasn’t as though I didn’t try to make a change. Time and time again I tried to lose the weight, get healthy and improve my physical fitness. Time and time again I failed. And every time I felt a fresh wave of guilt. I’d look at my young children effortlessly running around the yard and try to remember a time when I could move faster than a slow waddle. It had been so long since I was able to move freely – unencumbered by an extra 150 pounds. Over and over they’d ask me, “Mommy, watch me! Mommy come play!” I’d watch, but didn’t participate in their fun. I’d shout words of encouragement from across the yard, but stayed in my chair. It took too much effort to move around so I stayed down.
One definition for the word legacy is defined as: Something handed down from an ancestor or a predecessor or from the past.
I’m asked a lot how I have maintained my weight for so long. There are a lot of reasons, but one of them is the fact that I want to leave my children the legacy and memory of a mom who cared enough about herself to stay healthy for them. I didn’t want to leave them with the memory of a mom so paralyzed by guilt and fear that she ate herself into an early death. Among other things, when my kids talk about me to other people I want them to be able to say, “She loves us fiercely, encourages us in everything we pursue, and cares enough about us to take care of herself.” My kids won’t always make the right choices in every area of their lives – who does? But it is my hope that my healthy example will always be with them in their hearts and in their minds as they grow and mature.
Question: What kind of words do you want your family members to say about you? Diane