This is Lionel. Lionel eats when he’s stressed. When we got him from the rescue centre in May, he would eat anything and everything you put in front of him and he weighed a ton. The people at the rescue centre would give him all the other cats’ leftovers and he would hoover them up. When he came to live with us, he would lie on my chest first thing in the morning and he was so heavy I could barely breathe – which was a very effective tactic to get me up so I could feed him!
He has been with us over 7 months now, and while I can’t exactly say he’s looking svelte, (his tummy still swings from side to side when he trots across the garden,) he has definitely slimmed down. He will leave food if he doesn’t like it, and I’m finding out, to my cost, that he only likes expensive cat food. He is now perfectly happy in his little routine of sleeping 20 hours a day, spending a couple of hours outside, and occasionally having a great big fight with a neighbour’s cat.
What’s Lionel got to do with anything? Well, I’ve decided not to make my annual New Year’s Resolution to Lose Weight. Every year I make the resolution, and I don’t think I’ve ever succeeded. What’s different this year? I still want to lose weight, but I’ve learned a couple of things.
1. Making a resolution about something you want to change about yourself is telling yourself that you are not good enough as you are. Granted, not all resolutions do this, but the losing weight one certainly does. I’m constantly telling myself I’m not good enough at my current size. All this does is make me focus on the negative, and feel guilty, sad and angry. Feeling negative emotions doesn’t actually motivate me very well to make positive changes. If you recognise this in yourself, ask yourself, might you be better motivated to make positive changes in your life if you felt good? If you stopped berating yourself and started acting from a more positive mindset? Even if you fail (again) at least you will feel good doing so!
2. Consider your environment. Like Lionel, my spirit animal, I don’t lose weight when I’m stressed. I also don’t lose weight when I haven’t had enough sleep. Or when I’m too sedentary. Or in the summer… I can go on with this list but I won’t. I’ve seen several Facebook posts from fitness people recently telling me that there are NO EXCUSES and I should just get on with working towards my goal. That’s all well and good, but we all go through periods in our lives when we do have genuine excuses, like having young children who wake us up all night, or going through a stressful patch at work or at home. What possible good can it do to beat yourself up about not being good enough in these situations? Surely it is much better to focus on what you can actually achieve during these times. If you have a non-sleeping baby, then getting you and your baby through the day in one piece is achievement enough in itself. Give yourself a genuine, heartfelt, pat on the back.
Also, who cares? Almost no-one in my life really cares what dress size I am, as long as I’m healthy. Quite a few people I know do care whether I am happy. And actually, eating healthily and taking exercise does make me happy if I’m doing it for its own sake, rather than as some sort of punishment for all that Christmas cake I ate or wine I drank over the last few weeks. So my plan for this year is to be kinder to myself, and do things I enjoy. And that’s NOT a new year’s resolution…
Happy New Year everyone!