Update! - Help, My Mother In Law Hates On My Fitness
This is an update to my original post: Help! My mother In law hates my fitness. I wanted to let you guys know how Thanksgiving dinner went this year at my mother in laws (MIL) house, given how much conflict and shade she's been throwing my way every time the extended family gets together for one of her big dinners.
One thing that I decided was that this Thanksgiving dinner would be different. To remind you, these are some of the things that my MIL has said to me in relation to my fitness and eating habits:
- She won’t eat that (in reference to desert or anything anyone offers me).
- She eats like a bird.
- You barely have anything on your plate.
- People need to eat.
- In my day, looking after your family was all the exercise a woman needed.
- My kids needed me, I didn’t have time to exercise.
And maybe my personal favorite:
- Women shouldn't have muscles.
I think that sharing my original post with the BodyRock community gave me more courage this time, and knowing that I have my husband's full support in this also has really helped. I decided that this Thanksgiving, I wasn’t going to accept being bullied or disrespected. I also decided that I wasn’t going to hide or minimize who I am. That said, I wasn’t going looking for a fight, but I was going to stand my ground - or at least try. To be honest, it’s not just her behavior at the family dinners, it’s that she’s gotten to live rent free in my head for years. The only positive thing that I can really say about how much what she says naws at me, is that I use all of the anger I feel to power my workouts and keep myself hyper motivated.
I showed up with my husband and daughters wearing a bulky jacket. Underneath I wore a sleeveless sweater vest, cut just over the shoulders. It wasn’t tight, it wasn’t loose - it fit me perfectly. It was something that I felt beautiful and confident in. I paired the vest with my favorite high waisted jeans. I was careful to wear something that I felt comfortable and confident in, without it being over the top or somehow ‘disrespectful’. That said, I didn’t dial myself down and I wasn’t hiding.
This is similar to what I wore, except the sweater was black, and tucked into my jeans. There was no midriff showing.
As soon as I took my jacket off she immediately asked me ‘if I had just come from the gym’. It was on like Donkey Kong and I hadn’t been there for 2 minutes.
I could feel my chest flush red, but I kept my cool and smiled and said, ‘no, I workout at home with my girls, and mom already did her workout today didn’t she girls’. SNAP. Both of my daughters then chimed in a chorus while they took their coats off and we learned in for hugs and greetings from other members of the family. MIL said something to my daughters about them being hungry if mommy made them exercise - which pissed me off because of the way she framed me as ‘making’ my kids exercise. I don’t make my kids - my eldest is old enough (mid-teens) to be my workout partner most days because she enjoys sports and exercise. My youngest is too little to workout, but she mimics my movements and plays while I train.
As I explained in my first post, my MIL is the one that serves up the food - standing by the stove as the rest of the extended family lines up to be served. It’s not quite soup nazi style, but something similar. She who holds the yellow plastic serving spoons, controls the portion sizes, and let me tell you that not all serving sizes my MIL serves are created equal. I am routinely given mountains of starches, excess stuffing, and enough food to feed 3 people. What I don’t (or can’t) eat, is then called out as food waste, or used against me in some capacity.
This year, I lined up with everyone as usual, ready to face my tormentor with the yellow spoon. I wasn’t going to be bullied.
Slowly the line wound its way up to the stove, where the massive pots of food were kept. This was the moment I’d been preparing myself for. I felt a bit scared (which made me feel angry), but determined to stand up for myself. I snapped out of practicing what I was going to say when she looked at me and said, ‘lets get some meat on those arms’. I’m not even kidding. That's what she said. Before she could say anything else, I reached for the potato spoon. She caught the end of the spoon just a flash second later, and there we were, both holding the spoon, half loaded with mash, we locked eyes. There was a very brief - milliseconds long struggle where we both tried to take control of the spoon. That's when I said - ‘I appreciate your concern, but I just don’t want any of this amazing dinner that you’ve spent so long making for everyone to go to waste’. I said it in what I call my ‘nice but firm’ tone. There was another split second of resistance where her grip on the spoon increased, and her face hardened, but then just as quickly she released the spoon and said ‘I will let you just serve yourself’. My jaw dropped. She moved off to help one of the grandkids with something, and just like that, the showdown was over.
I walked to the table and sat down feeling more empowered than I had under her roof ever.
My husband got one look at my plate and raised his eyebrows at me and just gave me a knowing smile. I was so distracted by what had just happened that I fumbled initially to make conversation with the people around me. All I could think about was what had just gone down.
The dinner passed in a bit of a blur. There were none of the usual comments, but my MIL did mention a friend's daughter that had started ‘dressing like a teenager and not a woman in her 40’s’ and after losing some weight and starting to workout. I actually hugged my bare arms when she said it, and just bit my tongue. It felt like a barely veiled shot at me, but I let it go with a smile. The conversation moved on to politics, but that is a whole other story.
When we got back home, I felt good about standing my ground, but then I also started feeling guilty. I started second guessing my actions, I wondered to myself if I was losing my mind - after all, I didn’t intend to get into a tug of war with my MIL over the mashed potatoes.
More than anything, I felt sad and exhausted from the confrontation.
Those feelings have started to fade now, but I know that Christmas will soon be here, and I know that my MIL will be preparing her response. I caught her off guard at Thanksgiving, but believe me, this woman is not going to let this go just like that. I need to come to some kind of peace with this, and plan my next move.
I would also like to encourage others that are being bullied about their fitness to find their own yellow spoon moment and stand up for who they are and what they want. It's not easy, but it's something that I believe everyone needs to do if they are serious about their journey.
That's the MIL update. Thanks for listening to my story, which is turning into a bit of an epic. As always, any advice anyone has would be greatly appreciated.
P.S. I've added to the rebellion. My sister in law has now started the Beginner Bootcamp on BodyRockPlus.com She has kept it on the low, but I've been encouraging her, and my other sister in law has expressed interest. I've shared with them the 'back door' 30 day extended free trial, and I've been sending it to friends too. I love what you guys do, and I'm going to be forever thankful for the change you've helped me make with my body and health. I have a backbone now that comes from a place of confidence and strength.
You have inspired me to join BodyRockPlus and get started on that beginner bootcamp. I don’t have a difficult MIL in my life, but I do really want to get in better shape for myself and my family, and I want that confidence that you found. Wish me luck!
Maybe for Christmas, the husband can be in line next to her, and be prepared to jump in to help? Like let the MIL scoop the potatoes to see how much she’ll give (maybe you’ll be pleasantly surprised), and if she is giving much more than what she gives everyone else, the husband can point that out? “Hey ma, that’s too much, it’s way more than you gave me and nobody is going to eat that much.” I feel like if someone else points it out, maybe she’ll finally get the point?? Just a thought. Good luck at Christmas, and happy holidays!!
You go girl!! Clearly she wished she could’ve looked like you at any point in her life, thus the excuses. I wonder if she had/has any sisters and all this stems from her never standing up for herself. But I’m no psychologist!!
Absolutely wonderful to hear you standing up to a bully, and succeeding without a big melodramatic fight occurring. I think also that your girls will probably see a positive message about standing up to a toxic person who is a family member.
Awesome awesome AWESOME! Way to stand your ground, your MIL probably respects for this, not that her respect matters much lol, she was bullying you. You made a difference in your life by not taking any of her shit and your family has got your back. Love it!! Merry Christmas!
You are amazing. Always stick up for yourself.
Good luck at Christmas and keep us posted!
Before the big dinner, have a conversation. And ask her if she resents the fact to you stick to your diet plan, even during festive occasions. Mention that YOU have felt tension and you wanted to clear up any misunderstanding so everyone would feel comfortable. Tell her you always want to feel young but have no wish do deny your age. I doubt that your fitness plans are the real issue.