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Being an Active Aunt

Note: For more information about the Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating program, visit or my website.

Where do you spend your energy?

This is one of the questions we talk about in the Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating program, and lately I’ve been thinking about it in terms of being an aunt. Specifically, how much different things are for me the second time around.

I first became an aunt at age 19, when I weighed about 240 pounds and did not have a good relationship with food or my body. My brother had a little girl, and once she became a toddler, she was sometimes active, but she also liked cuddling, hearing stories, coloring, and playing quietly with toys. She could sit relatively still for long periods of time.

This it suited me perfectly because back then, I didn’t have a lot of extra energy, or much physical energy at all. My mental energy went towards my college classes, and most of my emotional energy often went to feeling badly about my weight and body and food choices. That, in turn, sapped my motivation to do anything active, so I was happy to sit on the couch and observe, or interact in a low-key way.

Fast-forward seventeen years – at age 36, I became an aunt to a baby boy. This time around I weighed over 100 pounds less than before, and I had a very different relationship to food. And I am so grateful for those changes because they’ve allowed me to be an active aunt.

From the moment my nephew started moving, it was clear he would not be content to sit still. Now that he’s three, this activity has only ramped up – he clearly spends much of his energy running, jumping, getting into things, and playing much more vigorously with his toys.

When I saw him last week, we played a game where I lifted him as high as I could, swung him down and around, and then bounced him. The second I put him down, his arms went up and he said, “Again!” So we did it again. And again. As my brother commented, “Be careful – he’ll break you.”

Happily he didn’t, though that may have only been because we had to leave for a holiday concert. But it got me thinking how, if he had been born first, I wouldn’t have been able to play like that with him.

It’s ironic because even though I’m considerably older, I have more energy now, on so many levels. Physically, I can play and move more, but a lot of it is also emotional change. Now that I’m not spending energy hating my body or feeling guilty about food, I can use that energy in other, more enjoyable ways.

Don’t get me wrong – I have no doubt my nephew could wear me out, especially since he seems to have enough energy to power a small city. I’m just grateful that I have enough of my own to keep up with him some of the time, and hopefully that with last for a little while longer.

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