Weight always seems to be an issue – whether you are thin or not. When I was younger I was always too thin. I do know it changes you to be one or the other. When I reached my mid thirties I began to get heavy. Perhaps it is the foods of today or the activities. Maybe it is the nature of the animal. How many slim animals turn heavy as they age? Because I see slim and healthy older dogs and people I know we don’t have to be this way.
When I was thin no one could understand my big energy and appetite. They went together is how it worked. I was burning those calories recklessly. I rarely strolled anywhere. I did however rest a lot because I’d wear myself out. Unfortunately I wasn’t immune to the trends for women in the 60’s on to be as thin as possible. I began to think I must be thinner. I became critical of myself and worked to keep my adolescent thinness. One thing that stood out from the beginning was my relationship with hunger.
I remember having food dreams. They were fantastic dreams – colourful and mouth-watering. They go back as far as I can remember. I woke up every day hungry and eager to eat. I seemed to be an anomaly. No one I knew ever wanted to eat first thing in the morning, nor did they have food dreams. As a teenager I experimented with hunger. I would eat a big breakfast and then the smallest lunch possible. I was hungry at lunch. I explored that feeling – not as an adversary but as a researcher. It was a pattern I kept for many years. I would enjoy an apple or avocado until every thing was gone – this represented a lunch. Supper was often a meal I hurried home to have but one that was late enough not to encourage snacks later on.
I don’t have those dreams any more. I think I stopped having them when I was too busy at university and started to wolf lunches and dinners and even skip breakfast because I’d sleep late after partying or study. We only had desert when I was growing up. I say this as ‘snacks’ were unheard of. Students use snacks as meals. In the working world snacks are everywhere. They were at the pub, the office, at parties and at friends homes. In the past twenty years of trying to keep my weight stable I have had to look at my beloved snacks. They have ruled me. Even when the snacks are ‘healthy’ ones. I love watching TV at night and the commercials are mostly about snacks.
Like my dog I would gladly eat [almost] anything, any time. I would love to wallow in my calories and enjoy the plumpness. When I hear how big my ass is or someone says I’ve ruined my dog – I seethed. It is one thing to let yourself go and another to be admonished for it. The last time someone said my dog was fat I said. ‘I am so tired of people saying this”. It stopped them and made them think. Then we talked about perceptions. Yes my Vet has said my dog should have a waist. She has also said my dog is healthy. I want health for my dog and myself. My dog loves exercise and helps me. She also is helping me with my snacks. This is because I share. I can’t share something that will hurt her so I must not eat those things either.
It has been over twenty-five years since I have been slim. In that time I have struggled. My metabolism is very different from my youth. I notice the weight when I move my body and try to fit into my regular clothes. Weight gain is unpleasant because your body no longer seems to be you and your clothes become a big disappointment. Recently I have begun to look back at my reaction to hunger. I’m not saying I have found a perfect way to address my weight. I eat a bit less. My walks are more frequent and brisker. I try to resist snacks – even if I make 20 trips to the kitchen and visit the fridge too often. If I fail I try not to beat myself up and resolve to do better tomorrow. This goes for me when I eat too late in the day or overfed the dog the chicken scraps. My weight seems to be stable and that just doesn’t cut it – not for me or my dog.
Hunger should be your body telling you its empty. Many times I haven’t even felt when I am too full. I indulge myself when I am even a little hungry. Now I wonder at my ‘lazy’ attitude. Yes we can’t be stressing out our bodies but who says a little hunger is a bad thing? As a migraine sufferer I can’t miss meals. I am allowing hunger back in. My dog has shown the way. She kicks her food bowl when she’s ‘hungry’ – even though I know she’s eaten well. This made me question my actions. Yesterday I had corn on the cob and a bagel for lunch and was still hungry at the end. Today it was a salad and a bagel and I am satisfied. Perhaps tomorrow it will be a salad and half a bagel. I know bagels are not diet food but this is better than a burger or pasta for lunch. Now both of us are experiencing hunger and at least in my dogs’ case I am seeing results. Perhaps I am too, but being bigger it may take longer.