Cant. Its a word we likely hear and use a lot in our lives. For me I know it is at least as a mother and wife and when I was growing up as a child.
You cant go there
You cant eat that
No, you cant have your iPad
What do you think this does to young little brains when they're hearing that they cant do things over and over? I think, it instills in them that they cannot do many things that they are indeed capable of and has potential to instill poor self worth and a need to rebel even harder. What if we flipped it and told them they can? They are capable. They are allowed? Would it change things? Would they act out less when they don't get their way? Of course, this isn't for all instances as a parent/child but for many day to day things, to me, this would solve many issues we as parents have with temper tantrums, meltdowns and young teenagers who are continually trying to retaliate.
This thought popped into my head recently as I navigate my postpartum body and work towards a healthier life - with less weight. My entire life I've yo-yo'd in my weight and I've never been that "thin" girl. Mostly, I have always been comfortable in my body, especially in the amazing feat of growing 4 humans to term pregnancies and birthing them. I, like most, go through waves of insecurities about my extra skin, double chin and flabby arms. After my most recent pregnancy, knowing we were done having babies, I went into my postpartum with the mentality of wanting to do my best going forward to live a healthier life. For the most part, as a family, we eat very healthy. At least my kids do and dinners are. I fall off when it comes to myself & breakfast and lunch. Generally, I simply just didn't eat it. Which, as most know, is not helpful in weight loss. My body was in a constant state of starvation even though I am overweight. So a few weeks ago I started my journey to a healthier me.
The goal is overall weight loss but more than that it is feeling healthier as a whole. We all know that the scale is often the enemy. A higher weight is always paired with being unhealthy - but this isn't always the case. We know muscle weighs more than fat and it's important to remember this as we work towards health, especially if you are utilizing a gym and weight lifting. Feeling good in clothes, sleeping better and waking refreshed, having clearer skin and more energy are also signs that you're working towards health even if your scale isn't moving as fast as you would like.
For me hardest part, like many, is in the kitchen. I started on a lower carbohydrate diet. Not quite keto. Without a gall bladder and nursing a little baby I didn't want to be doing anything too drastic to either of us. Within a week, I felt great and was loosing weight - granted it was mostly water weight. But my clothes were fitting better, I was sleeping better and didn't feel so foggy on the days I missed my coffee till late morning. I dabbled with continuing to lower my carbohydrates until I was full on keto but a few things stopped me:
I tried it prior to having Max and beyond the "keto flu", I felt disgusting and sick. Constantly. Whether or not it was the fact I jumped in with 2 feet and my body was in complete shock beyond the normal keto flu without a functioning gall bladder or what, it wasn't something I was interested in continuing at the time. I do not want this to happen again and put me off the rails with working towards health by being discouraged.
The "cant have" mentality makes me want to bang my head against the wall. To tell myself I have to restrict my vegetable and fruit intake because they're too high in carbs is not for me. If I want to eat an apple, I want an apple, and to not have to worry about the rest of the day because I am carbbed out. Did you know that apples have natural chromium in them. Chromium helps to release sugars steadily so you don’t get spikes and drops. When you get those drops is when you crave stuff. If you eat an apple 3-4 hours before your usual craving, you’ll slowly stop getting that craving. A lot of working people get it around 2-3 and others get it at night. So how could something so delicious and great be "bad" or not ideal for your diet? Or that day I want to indulge in some home made pasta or dinner out with my husband somewhere I don't have to pick and choose from limited options. Telling myself "no" makes me want it that much more and makes me binge on bad foods harder. Sure, everyone would like to loose weight as fast as possible but is it always the healthiest way? I'm not a doctor so cant truly say and I do know keto works for many. Unless you're committing to a lifetime of it, falling back into the carbohydrate hole leaves room for gaining back that weight you lost (potentially). For me, it makes more sense to change my lifestyle and habits for longevity that work for me - because many people say keto is a lifestyle but for myself those limited food options aren't for me. Smaller portions, less unhealthy carbs (white breads, pastas, sweets etc) and higher carbohydrate vegetables in moderation is much more my kind of lifestyle. I don't want to turn down Christmas yam & apple bake! Or that broccoli salad. And for me, its working and enjoyable.
So, I go back to the word cant, and wonder if there are others out there who by telling themselves they cant, make it harder? Maybe it doesn't, maybe it does. And for our kids- telling my kids they cant have something makes them ask that much more and whine that much harder. So instead my goal is this
You can have that brownie, yes. After you eat your vegetables or go get some exercise outside.
You can go to your friends house, yes. After you do your chores.
You can have your tablet, but you have to read a book for 20 minutes first.
You can have that McDonald's today, yes. Because mama is going to loose her ever loving mind if I have to cook (lets be honest, we all have those days where the answer lies in fast food because we can't even anymore for that day)
I would bet, if you don't already do this, you will see a shift in your children. By stopping telling them they can't do things and encouraging different ways they can it makes a large difference. The same goes for myself too. Telling myself I can have that small bowl of organic whole grain pasta or that slice of toast with my eggs makes me content in knowing that sure, it may take me an extra 6 months to loose the weight I'd like but I am enjoying delicious foods and nourish my body and soul.
Kayla is a mom to three sons, wife, and doula. She works within the Shuswap/Okanagan Region providing mothers and their families with a whealth of knowledge and support in all things fertility, pregnancy, birth and beyond.