I've always been a daddy's girl. I couldn't tell you why. I love my mom, but we always fought a lot. Again, couldn't tell you why. However, the one area where I continually sided with my mom over the years was weight. I inherited my mother's body type. Going back as far as I can tell, women in her family are strong, Eastern European matriarchs, built for surviving famine and bearing children. My mom and I went to Weight Watchers together. We did South Beach Diet together. We braved shopping malls together. I think it hurt her to see me suffer through the same humiliations during those shopping trips that she had. She wanted me to be thin, because she knew how hard it was not to be. My brother is also built like my mother's family. He's not fat, but solid and broad. Like I'm told my grandfather was.
My dad is the opposite. He was a thin child who ran cross-country in high school and grew up to be a thin adult. He'll deny it, pointing the the small paunch that he developed during middle age, but nonetheless he's still very thin.
When my brother and I were growing up, my dad was the biggest proponent of diets and exercise. He'd often bemoan that we inherited my mother's genes instead of his. He was never abusive or shaming, but would clearly be disappointed when I inevitably gained weight back after stopping a diet. Every semester when I came back from college, within the first hour or two of arriving there would be some comment (positive or negative) about my weight. It was something important to him. So I was worried about what he'd think when I told him that I was no longer dieting.
It didn't come up intentionally. He's way more interested in exercise than my mother is, so I usually share my exercise exploits with him. My fiance and I went kayaking on Sunday for two hours. We're starting to exercise together, and I'm teaching him how to weight lift.
"You know," he said, "I read recently that weight training doesn't actually raise your metabolism. Maybe you want to try something else."
So I explained some stuff to him. I explained that I don't do it to lose weight. I explained that I love feeling my body get stronger. I explained that it helps my tendonitis and my back. I explained that it's fun. And I explained why I don't care that it may not raise your metabolism. I don't diet any more, I told him.
He was confused, at first. And concerned. So I explained some more. I cited studies that diets don't work. I reminded him how much I'd tried and how little it worked. I told him about trying to cut out all-but-homemade sweets (both fiance and I have family history of diabetes and would like to keep it as history, but we LOVE baking) and buying a farm share for the season to make sure we're getting enough vegetables (also cheap-ish and local and organic!). I told him about hiking in the mountains and possibly buying a kayak (WANT). And I told him that my doctors say I'm healthy. Low blood pressure, low cholesterol, normal blood glucose (despite a maybe-kinda-possible diagnosis of PCOS).
He listened. And he agreed. Even conceded that Mom had better health stats than he did, so maybe I'm right and a lot of this stuff is genetic.
"All I care about is that you're healthy and happy, and you seem to be both of those. Love you, Shanni."
"I love you too, Dad."