A few of my friends from way back when have asked me since I posted the two photos of myself in my recent posts, “Wow. Why the change?”

No, they’re not being rude. They know me, these guys. They know I’ve never been a vain person, because I believe that there’s only so much time and resources one has, and as such, image has never been one of my priorities. I prefer to go after other more, shall we say, meaningful pursuits, like how to enrich my mind or my writing, to be a better parent.

Don’t be mistaken. I like looking at beautiful people. Who doesn’t? I totally grasp the concept that appearances matter and the slightly narcissistic but totally primal desire to be admired, but I’ve been one of those fortunate ones who’ve always been able to slip through the cracks of this societal pressure, managing to get by without needing to constantly watch what I eat, spend a lot of money on product or fashion. An example of my good luck is that I married a man who was 150lbs overweight (“was” as in not anymore – no, I’m not divorced, he’s just lost over 130lbs so far). He fell in love with me even when I was a good 50lbs overweight.

So, I figured I could continue to get by.

And then I had a six-year old.

Living in a country where extremes like obesity and bulimia can co-exist so comfortably within a square mile of fast-food chains, yoga studios and everything in between telling you one moment to love the shape you’re in and the next that those 10lbs can come right off if you just drink some Oolong, is a little like being Alice. You don’t know the next moment if you should get bigger or smaller, or stay the same size. If it’s confusing for a grown-up, what more a child?

A month ago, Raeven told me she didn’t want to eat because she didn’t want to be as big as me. I know, brutal but cute at the same time. I told her that it was okay to eat, as long as we eat the right foods and exercise to keep us healthy.

“Do you exercise?” she’d asked.

“Of course,” I’d managed, without even blinking. The next day, I started walking three to four miles each day and went on the South Beach diet.

That was four weeks – and 6lbs – ago.

What I’m saying is that I am losing weight and trying to look good to set an example for my kids, because like it or not, we’re the sun and the moon to them. Like it or not, at this young age, they look to us for guidance and we’re the be all and end all of all standards in their world. If Daddy swears and hits, then it’s okay for me to swear and hit. If Mommy is fat and lazy, that’s good enough for me.

Those who’ve followed my weight-loss journeys (emphasis on the plural) have known that staying motivated is my biggest challenge. I’ve always told Lokes I fail because I just don’t care enough about how I look and put no stock into what total strangers think of me when they see me lumbering by, particularly when my health is still tip-top (I go for annuals and my doc reluctantly tells me it’s a miracle). So preaching to me that I have to be healthy for kids so I can get old enough to see them get married and give me grandkids, doesn’t really hack it either.

But what my children think of me, in the midst of all the noise about health and a healthy body image? Now that matters. It really does, because what they think of me shapes – pun intended – who they are.

That’s more power than I’m willing to screw with.

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