Food and Exercise: Permission Granted

Part of a Mom’s job is giving permission.  “Yes, you may eat some.”  “Yes, you can play for an hour.”  Permission sets the boundaries, but sometimes little permission-askers like to see how far they can stretch the fence. 
Recently I gave my six-year-old permission to wear her brand new church shoes at home.  Then I discovered that she was wearing them to ride a scooter, propelling herself by scraping a foot on the concrete.  Fortunately it was caught in time to prevent damage to the new shoes, but it reminded me how often permission is conveniently expanded to suit the situation.
Permission is defined in the dictionary as “the act of permitting or allowing; license or liberty granted.”  With permission we feel free to do the thing permitted.  Like a child, we might even stretch the permission to include more than was intended because it can be easily justified.  After all, we had permission.
Opportunities to overeat and under-exercise abound year-round, but even more so around holidays and special occasions like weddings and birthdays.  Candy, goodies, special meals, parties—you name it, the temptation is there.  Busy schedules and extra responsibilities can make it a challenge to fit in a workout.
The question is, what are you giving yourself permission to do? 
Now this can go both ways.  You can decide “no candy and an hour in the gym six days a week.”  Good luck with that.  Or you can choose “well, this is a special occasion and I’ll make up for it next month.”   
No choice is a choice, too.
Going with the flow without deciding the boundaries is a choice to make up for it “later” (if you’re not too depressed “later” to get started). 
What will you give yourself permission to do?
You can choose moderation:  mindful eating, making sure you’re good and hungry before you eat a bite, and stopping when you’re physically full rather than stuffed to the gills.  A couple of snack-size candy bars rather than a couple of full-size ones.  Eat slowly, savor the taste.  After all, you can only taste food while it’s in your mouth.
You can give yourself permission to do a specific number of workouts per week.  Make them workouts you enjoy, make them reasonable in length.
Tell yourself the truth about what you’re giving yourself permission to do.  It begins with what you’re thinking, you know.  Being quick to stretch the boundaries and give yourself permission to go beyond the original permission keeps you weak and frustrated.  Exercising your mind keeps you strong.
It doesn’t have to be gritted-teeth, grim determination.  Instead, focus on what you WANT.  Envision yourself enjoying exercise.  Think about how great you’re doing with eating small amounts.  Have a picture in your mind of sailing through temptation easily.  Cheer yourself on, shift focus away from food, speak gratefulness and life to yourself.
You have my permission to do so.  What will YOU give yourself permission to do?
Did this strike a chord with you?  Leave a comment below!



  1. Jane Ballenger says:

    Thank you Charlotte.  Yesterday I gave myself permission to feel sleek and beautiful.  No, it was not a special occasion.  No, I didn’t have a new outfit.  But for the first time I can remember in my 50 years of life I didn’t want to hide my body.  I felt sleek and trim and proud of my natural curves.  Thank you for your inspiration.  I loved the way I felt about the way I looked yesterday and look forward to many many more YEARS of that same feeling.

    1. Anonymous says:

      LOVE this, Janie!  Wonderful “permission” to give yourself!!

  2. JoyfulMomof6 says:

    One of the things I’m working on (and trying to model for my 2 oldest daughters) is permission to be nice to myself, which you talked about in one of your posts. This is so hard for me, coming from an abusive childhood, where I internalized those voices that said “you’ll never be good enough”, etc. 
    But the Lord is good and has brought me far in this and has been healing me in this area and I’m taking babysteps towards healthier thinking about myself everyday.

  3. This really did it for me: “Eat slowly, savor the taste.  After all, you can only taste food while it’s in your mouth.” I definitely need to eat slower. It makes a huge difference. Started tonight being more conscious of what I was tasting instead of eating so fast. Thanks for the reminder!

  4. I give myself permission to go to bed.  Allowing myself too many late nights (“just a few more minutes”)  results in failure on all sides.  Determination to reach my goals slips away, as all I want is a nap, or more food to keep me going.   I don’t have to do just one more thing… I can and deserve to go to bed like a normal human being.  

  5. Charlotte, totally strikes a chord with me! I have been under-exercising for years and my doctor told me I need to walk just 30 minutes a day. Have I done that yet? Nooooooooooo! Thank you for your inspirational writing. Blessings and Merry Christmas.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *