Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Body types

What do I mean by body types? Well, here's a visual breakdown for you for men and women:

As you know, I have two kids.  I have an older son who is 17 and a younger son who is 9.  They look a lot alike as they are both tall with red curly hair and dark eyes.  While they look a lot alike, they are so, so different in nearly every way, including their body type and body size.  My older son is a typical ectomorph.  He is long and lean. His uncle said upon seeing him for the first time at 3 days old, "he's as long as a sausage."  He is 6'2" tall and weighs 155 pounds.  When I take him to the pediatrician, she says, " let him eat what he wants, when he wants" as she worries about his weight - being underweight.

This son cannot eat if he is not hungry. He knows when he is hungry and when he is not.  He does not overeat ever and will pass up sweets if he's not hungry for them.  He's the kid who would probably be a vegetarian if he fed himself. He loves salads and fresh foods.  He, however, is not built small, but more of a medium to medium large frame (I am his mother after all). He's an inch taller than his father, but is bigger in every way - taller, bigger hands, bigger feet and bigger wrist, knee, elbow joints. My husbands ideal weight is 165-170 at 6'1" tall, so this gives you an idea of just how thin my older son is.

My younger son is also very tall, but he is built like an endomorph. He will probably be taller than his big brother as he has been taller than him since a few days past birth, but he's also built much bigger. My younger son looks like a 9 year old linebacker. He has broad hips, broad shoulders, a round rib cage along with big hands and feet.  He has to wear husky pants even not being overweight.  He does, however, tends to gain weight.  He has this pattern of gain a little, then shoot up in height and thin out for a bit, repeat.

He loves his breads and starches. He loves carbs.  Now, he also loves vegetables and fruits, but he doesn't seem to have the ability to moderate food like his older brother.  I have to be more mindful with the foods with him.  When I take him to the pediatrician she says we need to be watchful and to keep him active. His weight isn't a problem, but it is borderline.  He was just at the pediatrician's office yesterday and while his weight is high for his height, it is getting better (his weight is going down in percentage as he's getting taller).  He is 4'10.5" and 95 pounds and he does have a teeny bit of extra weight, but mostly he's just built big.

This son is built and eats more like me. I realized today that I hit 100 pounds and 5 feet tall about the same time - around age 12, and I was thin as a kid. My son will probably hit those milestones about the same time at about age 10 and I can fully see how largely built he is - especially compared to his peers.  Why was I never aware of how largely I was built compared to my peers as it had to have been true for me as well?

I started to feel too heavy in my early teens as I did weigh more than most girls my height. All charts had me as being too heavy for the ideal range for my height, but I was thin. Oh how I wish I would have known better.  It didn't help that starting in puberty I started to get a rounded abdomen, but it wasn't a fat kind of belly, but just body shape. There was no fat on that rounded tummy - it was rock hard.

No I know this is fat:

This is not (actually, I couldn't even find a belly like mine that wasn't of a pregnant woman!)

I didn't need to lose weight, I needed to tone up! I just didn't have very strong core muscles to hold the gut in. And even some very, very fit women have slightly rounded bellies - I probably would have too:

I was so unaware of how we are all such different shapes. I can see it so clearly as a parent. Go to swim lessons with your kids and see like aged children in their swimsuits and just note how many shapes and sizes there are of THIN children. It's boggling actually, so why don't we ever really take that into account? At least most of us don't?

I used to feel so bad that my husband who is 7 inches taller than me had the same ideal weight as me. How is that possible? Well, looking at the ectomorph and endomorph figures above starts to give me a pretty good idea of HOW that is possible and it's OK. We have just got to get away from counting numbers on the scale as the end all number.

So, I need to teach my younger son too that he is NOT fat, but he needs to be more careful with his eating and he needs to always be active. With my older son, I have to keep telling him, "yes, you are thin, so no doctor is going to be after you, but being thin does not mean being fit and healthy!"  Of my two kids - then "thin" one sits around all day long. I have to force him out of bed. We made him walk home from school daily, but that is his only exercise.

My slightly chubby son (and ever so slightly) walks to and from school most days AND dances or does active sports games for 3-4 hours a day. Is he unhealthy?

There's just so much more to it and our body types speak louder to the general public than it should.

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