When Your Child is Fat

I could’ve been a poster child for Michelle Obama’s campaign against childhood obesity.

Fatty. Chubby Checker. Chunky Monkey. All names my father called me as a little girl, while my mother rolled her eyes heavenward every time we had to buy new clothes. I loved food and was an emotional eater to boot, and in my family food equaled love and vice versa. I was around 8 years old when my doctor began lecturing me about my weight.

According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey of 2007 nearly 1/2 of U.S. children are obese. Childhood obesity has tripled over the last 30 years, meaning that this is the first time that a generation will NOT be healthier than their parents. And we know what the risks are when someone is overweight, everybody all together now:

As a single mom I struggle with my kid, who happens to love food. I make her breakfast and pack her lunch thinking that I have some control over what goes into her stomach. She eats her lunch and from what I’ve heard, the leftovers from the kids around her. Frustrating!

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry suggests the following:

  • Start a weight-management program
  • Change eating habits (eat slowly, develop a routine)
  • Plan meals and make better food selections (eat less fatty foods, avoid junk and fast foods)
  • Control portions and consume less calories
  • Increase physical activity (especially walking) and have a more active lifestyle
  • Know what your child eats at school
  • Eat meals as a family instead of while watching television or at the computer
  • Do not use food as a reward
  • Limit snacking

While I always respect the opinions of the professionals, I’m open to new and creative ways to do some of these. Suggestions?


– Aunt B

The Fat Activist Weighs In

No! I’m First!


Is there an actual psychological disorder for someone who wants and needs to be first all of the time? My husband has to be first no matter what. It doesn’t matter what the circumstances are, he needs to be first or the entire day is spoiled.

– Wife-of-He-Who-Has-to-Be-First

Dear Wife-of-He-Who-Has-to-Be-First

I’m not a psychologist, so I can’t definitively say if there actually is a disorder with the “I-have-to-come-first” symptoms you described (I’m sure you’ve read the disclaimer Mama put on this site).

What I can say is that for some folk, being first is actually kind of sparkly and maybe somewhere in your husband’s life he’s not feeling as special as he needs to feel so now he insists on being first. I’ll bet he was at the back of the line once too many times or the recipient of too many hand me downs, whatever it was it didn’t feel good.

You didn’t say whether or not you’ve brought this up to him or how it impacts your relationship or your family. You did say if he isn’t first the “entire day is spoiled” which leads to believe that his behavior is worth a conversation.

Using “I” statements, tell him how his behavior makes you feel, how it spoils the day. Is it possible to be playful about it? As a family, can each of you have an “I go first” day?

Open the door to the conversation, and of course, let him go first.

– Brenda

Et Tu Tigre? The Confession

Tiger’s thirteen-minute “apology” came with all the pomp and circumstance of a presidential press conference and just as much security too. Most of the comments were about how robotic he seemed, with some journalists even calling his speech “pathetic.” Well, that’s a little harsh. Confession, while it might be good for the soul, is hard to do, especially when it involves your marriage, your sex life and millions of dollars in endorsement deals.

I first must commend Elin for not being there. I’m tired of the pathetic image of the supportive woman looking on, while the man confesses his affairs. Kudos Elin!

Tiger Woods: Elin and I have started the process of discussing the damage caused by my behavior. As Elin pointed out to me, my real apology to her will not come in the form of words; it will come from my behavior over time. We have a lot to discuss; however, what we say to each other will remain between the two of us.

Holy nine iron Jack Nicklaus! Did you hear that? I love the smell of reconciliation in the morning!

Tiger Woods
: The issue involved here was my repeated irresponsible behavior. I was unfaithful. I had affairs. I cheated. What I did is not acceptable, and I am the only person to blame.

That’s called owning your stuff people, and that’s what makes good relationship.

My male friends say that Elin must not have been “doing her job.” Seems to me that neither of them communicated what their needs were and I think it’s too easy to blame the woman. Needs can only be addressed when they are out there sitting on the table.

Tiger Woods
: As I proceed, I understand people have questions. I understand the press wants to ask me for the details and the times I was unfaithful. I understand people want to know whether Elin and I will remain together. Please know that as far as I’m concerned, every one of these questions and answers is a matter between Elin and me. These are issues between a husband and a wife.

Yes, this is really about him and his wife. Let’s move along people, nothing else to see here.

There is something to be said about confession, when it’s sincere it means we can start picking up he pieces and see if can fix this thing. It’s a good start Tiger. Now I hope your actions back it up.

– Aunt B

Memories of my battle with eating disorders

I am 22 now, and I would like to share my story about my past with eating disorders.

I was a chubby child. My mother took me to a child psychologist when I was only four years old. As I grew older my mother continued to make comments about my weight. Coupled with pressure from the media to be thin, I began my journey with eating disorders.

As I hit puberty, my weight ballooned and I became bulimic at 14. I also felt pressure to be thin because I was drum major of my band and president of several social and academic clubs in my high school.

I grew up in a wealthy family with a live in housekeeper. I always found ways to hide my bulimia from her.

I was only bulimic for two years before I realized I wasn’t losing weight and my health was declining.

At 16, my mother bought me Metabolife. (Yes, that was when ephedra was legal). Metabolife was the catalyst that started my life-long battle with bipolar disorder. I became manic and ate nothing but a snickers bar each day.

I am 5’6″ and I got pretty skeletal. When I was diagnosed, I was put on Lithium, which made me gain 60 lbs.

I moved to NYC for college at a prestigious fashion school and became manic and suicidal at the same time.

I was so mentally unstable that I got into a situation where I was slipped a date rape drug and nearly died. I woke up convulsing in St. Vincent’s emergency room, the main trauma center for 911.

Four years have passed and I am now stable and on medication. I am a healthy and muscular size 0 and food no longer rules my life.

I am an entrepreneur in the fashion industry, and even though I have reached my ideal image and have a healthy level of self-confidence, memories of my battle with eating disorders are never far from my mind.

– Anonymous

Everyday Is A New Day: my struggle to stay thin

Every Tuesday, Mama shares a personal story. This story was sent to us by Haley.

“Everyday is a new day,” I would say to myself and pretend tomorrow would be better. Tomorrow will be different. Well yeah, it’s not Monday anymore, but the same struggles and bad feelings are still there. They don’t just creep off in my sleep, but they sometimes show up in my dreams.

I suffer from bulimia. Like many people who suffer, I chose to keep it to myself. I guess that is part of the disease, to be sneaky and mysterious, but for me that is the worst thing.

I have always been open about my problems and I’ve always been able to talk to people about things most people would be embarrassed to talk about. But, I enjoy embarrassing moments, I live for them! It’s part of my quirky personality. Although, I don’t feel very honest when I describe myself anymore.

My bulimia has gotten really bad and I feel like I am mean and rudely sarcastic. I feel under pressure with the smallest tasks. I find sorry excuses to flake on people and class. All I have in life right now is school, and I can’t even dedicate myself to school. It use to make me happy, courageous, motivated and creative, but now I dread getting ready and seeing people.

I hate to leave the house, but I hate to be home alone. On times when no one is around and I have that little thought about food, I freak. I try so hard to think of something else because I can not be alone. I used to be able to be alone, actually.

Now, I don’t even know who I am anymore. I wish I could give up and turn myself in, tell someone, or go get help, but I am not as courageous. I feel like I am dying a slow death. That isn’t very courageous, now is it?

– Haley

The Holiday Blues

I was walking with my boss this afternoon to grab an afternoon snack when he turned to me to and said, “I know this is the season and we’re supposed to be all happy, it’s Christmas time and you hear the music, but B, I’m fighting the sadness, I’m struggling.”

I write a lot about ‘happiness being a choice’ and I stand by that, but what he was telling me was different than keeping a positive attitude.

Winston Churchill called his feelings of overwhelming sadness the “Black Dog,” author J.K. Rowling turned depression into characters and called them “Dementors” in the Harry Potter series.

Truth be told I feel blue every holiday season too.

What is supposed to be a time of togetherness turns into one hassle after another. Negotiating time with the ex? Yeah, that’s not exactly pleasant. Spending half of the holiday with my kid? That’s a downer too.

Downer or not, what my boss said is what a lot of folks feel during the holiday season. And it’s easy enough to go down the list and tell you to spend time doing for others, not to have high expectations or over-indulge in drink or food. And then there’s the one about creating new traditions. I agree with all of these suggestions. But what I wonder is what works for you?

What do you struggle with during the holiday season? What do you do to get through?

– Aunt B

Personal Story: My battle with migraines

Every Tuesday Mama shares a personal story.
This week’s story was written by an Anonymous person

I am a 33 year old male. Born in Indianapolis, Indiana. I was diagnosed with migraines since I was 3 years old. My migraines occur when I wake up 99% of the time. I used to get them once a week. Now I get them once every 2 weeks.

Just for the record. My family has spent thousands of dollars trying to help me with this problem. Hypnosis, Biofeedback, medications, diet, and massage therapy. Some of these things have helped, like bio feedback, midrine, and the use of caffeine (after reducing my caffeine content to two cup of coffee or sodas a day.) And Massage to help me relax, or remove stress. These have helped but have not removed the migraine problem.

I know that my migraines are triggered by too much sleep, not enough sleep, and drastic change in weather, alcohol, and stress. The one strange thing that others have not mentioned is that I also get them if I’m too happy or sad. Extreme emotion seems to trigger a Migraine. My birthdays, Christmas, and vacations have always triggered the most intense migraines. Over the years I have learned not to get too overly emotional either way. It has helped me to control the migraine attacks. I must live a drama free life!

I have also noticed that if I have a stressful situation the migraine seems to occur when I have a chance to relax. I think that is why most of my migraines occur on Saturdays, after a stressful week.

I currently take Midrine for my migraines. They do help in getting rid of an attack, as long as it’s before vomiting set in. I have also used marijuana for emergencies where I am vomiting and cannot keep medication down. I know it’s a controversial method but it helps. I keep a device called a one-hitter for these emergencies. And only use it when vomiting occurs.

Migraines have been a monster for me all my life. It has affected my childhood, my education, (especially where attendance is important) my personal life, my choices in life, (cannot be a pilot, or even management) and my career, (again with attendance). I have been fortunate to find a company that understands my situation and doesn’t use my attendance to evaluate me in reviews. But there is an understanding that a management position cannot be.

There doesn’t seem to be a pill or technique that will remove the migraines. To even reduce the severity to once every 2 to 6 months would improve my ability to function in life. I read about people complaining about the pain, but not about how they live with the problems migraines create in everyday life.

It also amazes me that after 33 years there still isn’t a cure.

Knocking on Hope’s Door

Andrea Ivory goes door to door to sign up uninsured women for FREE mammograms.

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