Dealing with Morganne's need to lose weight has created a ripple effect throughout the whole family, in unexpected ways. Mitchell is still in the 19th percentile for weight, but he's loving all the fruits, vegetables, and extra time riding bikes. Meganne has actually lost weight and slipped down to the 64th percentile. "At first, we worried a bit -- there's some intense body-image stuff girls face at her age. But it seems to be the result of eating less junk and more produce, and of moving more," says Marianne.
And while Morganne's BMI hasn't declined yet, her weight has stayed level, and Dr. Vande Kappelle is confident that the number will go down as she grows taller and continues to eat healthier foods. And he's encouraged that her blood pressure has dropped. "Because she's addressing this now, she's started an upward spiral, building on the small, positive changes the family is making," he says. Her parents couldn't be prouder of the way Morganne continues to be genuinely upbeat, easily adapting to the many lifestyle changes they've thrown at her as if they were second nature.
But the most humbling aspect, Marianne admits, has been coming to terms with her own personal weight issues. "Even with all this happening with Morganne, I'm at my highest weight ever," she says. Her daughter's health has pushed her to work harder to lose weight. Marianne had her first child when she was 31, and Mitchell when she was 40: "It's so important for me to be around to see my children grow." In addition to her intended 60 minutes of exercise with Morganne at night, she and some friends have signed up for a "Biggest Loser" challenge at work, and she's adding in activity whenever she can. While those changes haven't resulted in much weight loss so far, Marianne, who has hypothyroidism and needs to have her blood checked twice a year, has numbers of her own to be proud of: "Just by biking and walking, my blood work results are now normal."
Even better, she says, "I get to let Morganne know she's not alone in this whole experience. It means a lot that I can say, 'I know it's hard. But Mommy has to work on being healthier too.'"
Originally published in the August 2012 issue of Parents magazine.