Bullying and Body Positivity: Why Sports May Be an Answer for Your Family

sportsWhat are your earliest memories of being aware of your body? Aware of what you thought of yourself, and how you were viewed by others? My first memories were of my mother telling me how beautiful I was. She would applaud me for being strong and fast. She appreciated my rough and tough tomboy nature. I never had to do anything for these accolades. I was praised just for being who I was. I know so much of who I am and the confidence I have started with those little seeds of self-love that my mother sewed in me from an early age. Who knew that a mother’s love could be so profoundly powerful? Well, we do, because we are mothers.

As I continue to learn and grow in my motherhood journey, I can reflect on and learn from those moments with my mother. I, too, fill my kids’ cups to the brim with positive affirmations about who they are as people. But I also know there is so much more to the equation. We are in different times. Our kids are inundated with so much more messaging about what looks good, who should be praised, and, unfortunately, who should not be. The bullying has gotten increasingly vicious with the help of social media, and the age of suicide ideation has gotten scarily younger. There are plenty of things we as parents can do to combat this, and in my house, we are still choosing to keep it “old school.”

I start with myself and what I am modeling in both my actions and my words. I speak positively about my body… at least in front of my kids. When we speak about food and what we are eating, I work hard to not use “bullying” terms as we discuss the decisions we make.  We do not eat fast food every day, not because it will make us fat, which for transparency’s sake is my first thought, but because it does not fuel our bodies in the right way. We eat fruits and veggies because they help us to grow and make us strong. We limit our candy intake, well, because it makes us act crazy! When the weather is nice, we force outside time and prioritize movement as a family. On rainy days, the bounce house goes up in the foyer. My goal is that, without putting an emphasis on it, my kids will always prioritize a healthy lifestyle because that is what feels good to them and is all they know.

What we do in our home is the foundation. The village we surround ourselves with, including the people and experiences, are the walls. That is where sports come into play. When I look at the way sports have enriched my life, I know I want that for my kids. Beyond the more obvious benefit of physical health and wellness, which is often a lifetime benefit and dedication, sports can teach us a lot about who we are and the world around us. For us, it reaffirms the idea of fueling your body for performance. It has challenged my children to find value in both wins and losses as well as grapple with the emotions that come with those outcomes. With team sports, we develop friendships on both the parent and child level. I love that, especially at an age where kids tend to be self-centered, they are forced to see how their actions impact a collective. They continue to build on the understanding that preparation and success are often correlated. As it relates to self-esteem, success in your sport increases self-confidence.  It also gives you a built-in group of friends and a place of belonging that can sometimes be hard to find for kids. I know that it is not always a bed of roses, but when I think about the benefits of physical activity and participation in sports, I think it is a worth it risk to take.

Dominique Landry is a NASM certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor, and founder of Fit Enough LLC. She has been an athlete and a proponent of a healthy lifestyle for her entire life and created Fit Enough to change the current narrative of fitness to be more inclusive of all body types, fitness levels, and lifestyles. When she is not working to change the fitness industry, she can be found "doing this thing called life" with her husband and endlessly energetic children. If you enjoy a good laugh, straight talk, and lots of food, Dominique is your girl. Follow her on Instagram @fit_enough for a little food, a little fitness, a little fashion, and a lot of fun!

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