- Dave lost weight by making his world bigger
- Do you cancel plans with friends?
- When you follow in Dave’s footsteps 4 amazing things happen
Recently I bumped into our vet. I asked how her cat Dave was doing, partially because I love animals and partially because I love saying “… your cat, Dave…”
When Dr. Batruch replied:
… I knew I needed some photos and to sit myself down to write about Dave.
Dave lost weight the same way I did
Dave’s weight-loss journey highlights one of the key turning points in my recovery. The way Dave lost weight parallels my own experience.
How I gained weight
Between the summer of grade 8 and 9 my family went on a 6 week car trip across Canada. During that holiday I:
- stopped training for cross country running
- sat in the car for hours on end (we found ways to make it fun!)
- hit puberty
- ate out for almost every meal
When I got home I was about to start high school. So I did my best to crash diet.
Rather than losing weight I gained more!
My yo-yo dieting continued and became more extreme. The less I ate while “on” a diet, the hungrier I got and more I ate when I “broke” my diet. Soon I was caught in the vicious cycle of starving, binging and purging.
The harder I tried the worse things became.
I dropped out of everything
I’d always been willing to do extra work or train extra hard to reach goals. So I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t able to stick to my (extremely restrictive) diet. Proving I could lose weight became my first priority; I wanted to believe in myself again.
So I stopped taking part in all the things I loved—sports, student council and anything social to focus on losing weight.
I thought fully dedicating myself would speed up the weight-loss process.
I was wrong.
Focusing on dieting made it harder to lose weight
Suddenly I had even more time and energy to put behind misinformation—all the diet rules, tips and tricks I’d gathered, that made eating complicated.
Soon my eating became even more disordered and I became completely preoccupied by trying to lose weight.
My experience is extreme because I have OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). But no matter where you fall down the spectrum, unplugging yourself, even a little, from the people and activities you love, makes it harder to reach any goal, including losing weight.
Are you preoccupied by dieting?
Do you ever:
- cancel plans with friends, such as going out for dinner
- put off doing an activity, like buying new clothes
- say no to an invitation, for instance, going to a cottage
due to something related to your weight?
Last week I was out with a friend and our waitress, a really great 23-year old, told us she had postponed going to school to become a physiotherapist because she wanted to lose weight first.
It made me upset and frustrated.
I told her about my experience and wanted to share it with you. I hope others can learn from my mistakes.
Stop delaying, dropping out of and declining opportunities!
Don’t put your life on hold.
Pursuing the things you care about makes it easier to reach all your goals.
My Turning Point
During teacher’s college I had my “How Dave lost weight” moment.
At that point I’d been struggling for 9 years and punishing myself for any choice I regretted. If I thought I ate even one bite too many I’d say I ruined the day and would have to restart my diet, and life, tomorrow. So I’d cancel everything, including going to class.
I thought the more of my life that I put on the line, the more pressure it would put on me to stick to my next diet.
Shortly into October my professor took me aside and said that if I missed one more day of school I’d have to repeat the whole year.
Fortunately by that time I had some other key information in place. I understood:
- the importance of eating 3 balanced meals a day (rather than trying to live off diet pop and rice cakes)
- what healthy exercise looks like
- that I have OCD and could look for self-defeating patterns
With all these pieces in place, I could add another one to the weight-loss puzzle—the one that explains how Dave lost weight.
I lost weight when I made new priorities
When your priorities are clear everything else becomes really simple— Michelle SingletaryDetermined to make a success of teacher’s college, which at the time felt like my last chance, I decided that no matter what I’d go to class. Regardless of what I ate, I would show up. Getting my butt on a chair at the lecture hall became a non-negotiable.
I let nothing get in the way of going to school.
Without realizing, having a goal that was bigger than weight loss helped me lose weight.
Why I lost weight
Getting busy with my interests was a big part of how I lost weight because it:
Gave my day structure
Between each meal I was occupied with things I care about.
Helped me focus on the big picture
I fell in love with the kids I taught and their needs became greater than my own. Naturally I began to focus on them instead of getting lost in the details of what I did or didn’t eat.
Kept me moving forward
When I was done lunch there was no time for me to look back and worry if I ate one bite too many. I had kids waiting for me and classes to attend. I wanted to get back to what I loved to do!
Made me more flexible
Carrying on after what I deemed a mistake helped me realize there’s no exactness to eating, so I stopped worrying about eating the perfect amount. Whether I ate a little more or less it didn’t really matter.
I lost weight
when got out of my head
& excited about life.
Getting busy helped me get healthy and be much, MUCH happier. And there’s lots of research to back this up.
Studies prove the power of pursuing interests
Working toward a goal pulls you over obstacles that sit in your way—in my case all the hang-ups I had around eating.
- getting out of a bad relationship
- going through an illness
- grieving the loss of a loved one (person or animal)
- moving to another city or country
- losing weight
- overcoming an eating disorder
Or any other circumstance that pulls you off track, it’s key to stay connected to the people, animals and projects that are important to you.Idle hands are the devil’s tools— Proverb
For you that might mean keeping your Friday night plans even though you feel like staying home.
For Dave that might mean chasing butterflies rather than staying inside and basking in the sun.
If Dave’s story isn’t compelling enough, how about some research?
A study in Iceland found that getting kids involved in sports and other extra curricular activities was so effective in lowering alcohol abuse and drug use, that many other countries have adopted these same preventative practices.
State funding was increased for organized sport, music, art, dance and other clubs, to give kids alternative ways to feel part of a group, and to feel good, rather than through using alcohol and drugs… Between 1997 and 2012, the percentage of kids aged 15 and 16 who… participated in organized sports at least four times a week increased from 24 percent to 42 percent. Meanwhile, cigarette smoking, drinking and cannabis use in this age group plummeted.
– The Atlantic
You’re ready to make a plan
Whether you’re trying to lose weight or accomplish something else, don’t neglect the things you care about.
Along with the daily structure that comes from school, work and/or volunteering, it’s important to have other activities in your life as they can pull you out of a rut and keep you moving forward.
I find signing up for things ahead of time effective. For instance, my partner and I subscribe to a documentary series which gets us out to see a film on the first Wednesday of each month. And my book club meets on the last Thursday of each month.
Often I feel like I have too much work to go out. But when I’ve committed ahead of time it makes honouring plans easier. And I always return home feeling re-energized.
What sports, hobbies or other meaningful experiences interest you? What clubs and activities have you enjoyed in the past?
Write down some ideas and consider how you can build them into your weekly or monthly routine. For instance, if you love animals, you could:
- organize a blanket or food drive for your local animal shelter
- explore career opportunities in the veterinary field
- work at a pet store
- offer to walk an elderly neighbour’s pet on a regular basis
- volunteer with a feral cat neutering program in your community
Follow your interests!
How Dave the cat lost weight: A Case Study
Let’s go back to the start.
Dave is a puuuurrfect example of why it’s important to stay busy with your interests.
When Dave became an outdoor cat he lost weight because he:
- had exciting plans (stalking birds and bees, perhaps?)
- got into a routine (cats love to survey their territory, visiting local haunts at consistent times of the day)
- became physically active (patrolling a cats kingdom takes stealth and stamina)
Dave lost weight because becoming an outdoor cat literally broadened his horizons.
When I made my world smaller it was harder to lose weight. When Dave’s world became bigger it was easier to lose weight.
3 cheers for Dave.
Make Today Count
Don’t wait until tomorrow.
Make your world bigger.
Get the ball rolling today!
Build healthy eating and exercise habits. A healthy weight will follow.
Getting busy was a huge part of how Dave and I lost weight. You can engage in meaningful activities and become healthier and happier too! Changes start slowly and build momentum. Sign up for my newsletter below and you’ll receive one of the best weight-loss strategies I learned.
Follow your interests. Get stuck in. Don’t be afraid to get your paws dirty! It’s how Dave lost weight and how you can too.
I would be amiss not to profile my other wonderful vet’s pet, Dr. Szabo’s miracle cat Bella who is 21 years old!
Sharing what I learned makes those 10 years worth it
What makes you jump out of bed in the morning? What is one of your favourite activities?