January 2, 2011

Weight revisited - UGH

Last year at this time I vowed to work on Alex's weight in 2010. I am embarrassed to say I have failed miserably. It's not that I didn't try to help Alex understand she needs to be healthy and not 25 pounds overweight, it's just that I did not try hard enough or set the right example.

We were successful with our suggestions to Alex around sports and homework. I learned to pick my battles and not interfere with that annoying Disney channel (no offense meant, but I am so sick of teen shows) or the posters of Justin Bieber all over her wall. I am happy to allow Alex all the time she wants with her karaoke machine, crafts and journaling. I even do not bug her about her messy room. But, weight is too complex a problem for my suggestions, nagging and yelling.

No one in our family is overweight and so this has been challenging for all of us. Alex understands healthy eating, but to her three bananas or three bowls of applesauce are healthy. Alex does not understand or want to understand portion control. I try to teach Alex about calories and small meals but I am not successful. In Alex's mind she needs three full meals and two snacks a day to be healthy; and this has resulted in even more weight gain this year. When I look at her I see an overweight and potentially unhealthy teenager who must lose weight in order to move into adulthood with good health.

I have said before that weight is a control issue for Alex. Her mealtimes are part of her daily schedule and help her manage her day. Alex likes schedules and it truly helps her to feel confident and independent. She eats breakfast at 7:30, snack at 10:00, lunch at 12:00 etc…if she misses a meal she claims to have stomach pains and feel faint. Perhaps this is true, maybe she has conditioned her body to eat this much. I need to reprogram her this year and figure out a different way for Alex to feel control in her day, WITHOUT so much food.

This year Tom and I worked out a "secret stash" strategy, as we did not want to suffer. We would buy the foods we liked (chips, cookies and chocolate) and hide them in places in the house we figured Alex could not find. And although I could see Alex was gaining weight over the year, it never ever occurred to me she would find our secret stash. Tom and I did not compare notes on who ate what and I was perversely proud of my deceit.

As always and why should I be surprised, Alex outsmarted me. I had spent the year believing my VERY bad example was a safe secret between Tom and me. I have recently learned I was terribly wrong and even abetted Alex and her weight gain over the year. I know this because my sister Sue visited me over the holidays. One evening she fell asleep on the couch in the family room only to wake up at 5:30 in the morning to find Alex rummaging through my LAST ever secret hiding place. When Susan asked Alex what she was doing Alex responded she was hungry and getting food from Mom's hiding place. I will never know when she busted me, but this was a very bad contribution I made to Alex's weight in 2010.

This is the biggest issue I have ever had with Alex, my magical daughter. I need to help her understand that her weight will only get worse, and her health begin to suffer if she cannot manage her food consumption. Her face is beautiful, her weight is not.

Yes, 2011 MUST be the year of the weight loss, to fail is a disservice to Alex and all she has accomplished over the years. I must also set an example, who knows without chips, cookies and chocolate even I may lose weight. What a concept – I might need a new wardrobe.


  1. This is an issue at our house as well. We also find Beth in the pantry after everyone has gone to bed, getting snacks. Other than getting locks for the doors, I'm stumped about this issue as well. Portions are also a problem for Beth - she thinks 5 cheese sticks and 3 yogurts are healthy. Yep, snacks are a part of her everyday routine too. Beth eats very slowly and it seems she is getting more food while still chewing the final bite of her last meal. I know that extra chromosome contributes to them being overweight, but I don't believe it has to be that way. (Part of our problem is others in the family who tend to eat large portions. How do I teach Beth one thing when others are doing another?) But if your family is thin and Alex is also showing these behaviors....

    Let me know if you find any keys that unlock this mystery!! Please know you're not alone! I'll be thinking about you!

  2. This really seems to be a common issue. I have been told that our kids feel like so much is decided for them and they have no control, but that this is an area that they get to control. I don't know . . . I have a friend who took her daughter to a nutritionist and would quote and remind her daughter of what the nutritionist said. It made more of an impact than what mom said. But you are right-- it is all about portions.

  3. thanks for the support Cindy and Johnna - nice to know we are not alone! Really hoping we can address this in 2011. I asked Alex to get on the scale so we could chart her weight and celebrate lost lbs...she has not agreed..yet!

  4. I know this may be obvious but have you had her thyroid checked recently? This can be a biggy for young adults with DS. April loves watching the Biggest Loser and this motivates her to exercise and eat right. susan

  5. Thanks Susan - that is such a great reminder to others. Thyroid issues can be a problem, Alex has her tsh levels checked every six months and has been on and off thyroid medication since she was three...Very important!


Thanks for your note, we love hearing from you!