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Being Honest With Yourself

I’ve come to accept that I lie to myself, even though I could never successfully lie to anyone else.  I’ve also come to accept this is a pretty normal human condition.  It seems we lie to ourselves more often than anyone else.  I lie about how much food I eat and how healthy it is.  I lie about how much time I waste. I lie about my motivations for the things I recommend.

This week I want to spend  little time identifying some of the lies I’ve recognized in myself, in the hopes it helps you identify the lies you tell yourself.

Why?  Because even though I try so hard to believe these lies, other people see right through them.  And when I am obviously being dishonest, my integrity will be questioned.  It’s called hypocrisy, and it damages relationships and reputations.  If the women I work with think they can’t believe me, I lose the opportunity to share the truth about healthy pregnancy with them.

The most obvious place I am dishonest is in my diet and exercise.  I do try both – I try to exercise 5 or more days a week and I do try to maintain a healthy diet.  But the truth is despite trying to balance diet and exercise for my entire adult life, I was only at a healthy BMI for about 6 months.  The entire rest of my adult life I have been overweight, and for a sizable chunk I measured as obese. And even in the midst of those times I saw myself as a person who eats healthy and exercises.

I’m sure the women I work with wonder if I’m joking when I recommend good nutrition and exercise. If it was really so great, why don’t I do it. Because the truth is, if I was eating healthy and exercising my weight would be normal. My weight continues to measure as overweight because despite my dedication to healthy meals, I bake frequently enough that having one or two things from each baking episode keeps me overweight. My wight continues to measure as overweight because if I find myself with candy, I don’t stop eating it.  My weight continues to measure as overweight because my “scoop” of ice cream is really more like two servings even though I estimate it as one.

These are deep habits, often difficult to even see myself doing. I am working on them, but I still make enough food choices based on desires other than health to keep me overweight. I tried an experiment once.  When I talked about nutrition with women in childbirth classes I shared my struggles and asked the women to share theirs too. They shared, and it was much easier to help them meet nutritional goals when I understood what barriers were in their way. This works OK in a childbirth class, but I struggle to wonder if it is appropriate during a first prenatal.  I have tried half, asking women to share their biggest food struggles. I’ve tried approaching it as areas many women struggle with, including me.  It still isn’t the same as having the time to talk through it with a group of women.

My words will never speak louder than my body.  If I look as if diet and exercise don’t matter to me, the families I work with will get the message loud and clear. They might even get angry if I suggest they make changes I obviously am not willing to make myself.

 

 

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Jennifer Vanderlaan CNM MPH is the author of the BirthingNaturally.net website. She has been working with expectant families since 2000, training doulas, childbirth educators, and midwives. She has worked with midwives in Central America and Sub-Saharan Africa. Her interest in public health grew in 2010, and she is now a PhD student learning to become a producer of knowledge.

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