Can you remember when you first became body or food conscious?
I was nine and my mom told me that "we" were going to go on a diet.
She was very gentle and sensitive about it, careful to not shame or guilt me.
But I knew in that moment, despite her warm tone and caring voice, that there was something wrong with my body.
That conversation sparked decades of dieting and the inevitable frustration that follows.
There were the highs of weight loss, and the lows of regain.
I certainly wouldn't say my mom was diet-obsessed or anything, but over the years we would try different diets together-- Carbohydrate Addicts Diet, Weight Watchers. My sister and I did South Beach.
We were a pretty typical family of girls in that regard.
There was never any body-shaming or negative comments about food or eating.
Not from my family at least.
But I got those messages from the rest of the world.
Magazines and model-obsession.
The whole "thigh gap" standard (What the hell is that about, BTW?!?! My thighs touch because they love each other!)
Today, women come to me to end their battle with overeating.
They want to stop overeating and arrive at their natural weight, just as I have.
They want to ditch the diet drama and stop agonizing over food, calories, carbs, and weight.
They want to love their lives.
And they want to do it for their daughters.
I hear this all the time.
"I don't want to pass this on to my daughter... I want her to have a positive body image. I don't want her to struggle the way I have."
Today, with social media, filters, and make-up contouring being the standard, girls feel more pressure than ever before to be air-brushed perfect.
And we mamas want to help our girls slay all of that B.S.
We want to raise up strong, smart girls who bypass all that, skip disordered eating all together, fuel their bodies with healthy foods, and never worry about their bodies or their weight.
And we tell them that, all loud and righteous.
"You should love yourself just as you are!!"
"You are beautiful!"
"You are smart and amazing!"
"Looks don't matter-- it's who you are on the inside!"
But then we catch a glimpse of ourselves in the storefront window and make a self-deprecating comment.
We shift uncomfortably in our clothes, self-consciously pulling our shirts down over our bellies.
We sneak in the kitchen late at night when no one is looking and secretly eat the ice cream in the freezer or M&Ms in the cabinet. Or both.
We refuse to wear a bathing suit at the beach, or keep our cover up on even in the water.
We talk about wanting to lose weight, or feeling disgusted with ourselves.
We talk about struggling with our weight.
We think constantly about our body and food anxiety.
She is watching.
Your daughter is watching YOU.
You can tell her all day long about how she should love herself just the way she is and not worry about beauty standards, but she is smarter than that... she sees what you are modeling.
She is learning from you, her first teacher.
You know what else?
It's not too late.
You have an opportunity, no matter how old your daughter, to be the mama you want to be-- the mama you want your daughter to see.
Here are four things you can do TODAY to start being the role model you want to be for your daughter.
Lia Pinelli is a weight loss coach and educator who helps women put an end to emotional overeating and lose weight, permanently.