Last year Mike and I took on two new black Labrador pups – BB and Sky. Waise, (pronounced Visor) our existing dog took to them instantly and fun and games were had by all.
As BB and Sky grew older and bigger, BB became taller and Sky became wider. They were always fed the same food and quantity and as with all Labradors the world over, food is their number one priority in life. And I have never seen dogs eat so fast!
As the months progressed their personalities developed – along with their confidence. BB was always confident and is often seen teasing Waise to encourage her to play fight. Sky doesn’t seem to mind being left out and lays asleep nearby. When we go out for our many walks it became apparent that the fitter and slimmer BB, ran much faster than Sky and Sky would get tired more quickly. When all three dogs played together it was often Sky being teased by the other two and she would give out the occasional squeal as she felt scared and bullied. She was showing vulnerabilities and that is what is irresistible to the stronger members of the pack. And humans are no different. It reminded me of my schooldays. Only one girl in our class was considered overweight. She had a lack of self confidence because she was slower at sport than the rest of us and that made her an easy target for teasing. As an asthmatic child myself, I suffered similar treatment though I was never physically bullied, only emotionally so.
When I meet our successful slimmers at our photoshoot for the magazine, I am astonished at how many have been overweight through childhood and who have been bullied as a result. Even our Super Fit Female Slimmer of the Year, Joanne Dreher left school at 15 to escape her bullies. And the worst thing that can happen to a bullied, overweight child is turning to food for comfort.
As responsible adults we need to be aware of the issues young people face. We need to be interested and affirming – giving them self confidence and self-belief.
1 Every day, say something affirming to the young people you are in contact with – “you are really good at that”, “you have a real talent for that”, “you know you are a very thoughtful/kind/generous person”. And tell your own sons and daughters that you are proud of them. So many men – very high-powered, high achievers – are only so driven because they want their fathers to be proud of them. Let’s say it sooner rather than later!
2 Do not discuss with a child or young person that they are overweight. It is an incredibly sensitive issue with children and it needs to be addressed in a much more positive way. Look at trying, as a family, to get fitter. Start doing activities the whole family can do and enjoy, especially the ‘less fit’ child. If you can find an activity they enjoy, it can be life changing for them.
3 Start preparing healthy meals together. Teach children to cook healthy food.
4 Keep high-fat treats for special occasions rather than every day. Let them choose what the treat is to be and let them enjoy it with your permission. Restrict the hours spent in front of a computer or a television. There is a direct correlation between watching TV and snacking. If we stop watching so much TV, the snacking reduces dramatically.
5 Invest in a Wii Fit or similar active computer game. It is fun, suitable for all the family and designed to be highly motivational. Find an activity that your ‘less fit’ child excels at as this will not only encourage them to get better and better, but also fitter and fitter and more self-confident.
The longer I live the more I realise that we are a success or a failure dependant on our confidence levels. Let’s give confidence to anyone and everyone we love, work or play with. It will build our confidence too as it takes a self-confident person to compliment someone else.
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