Monday, April 8, 2013

Welcome to Cat Disneyland

My cat, Metaphor, aka Stinky, has every toy a feline could possibly want to play with.  My living room looks like a cat Disneyland, complete with tunnels, empty boxes, rolling fishbowl thingies, light-up toys...

I am constantly buying cat toys, 

rotating them, trying to lure her into physical activity with a new feathered or squeaky or furry object. Most of them she ignores, or she'll glance at them, then stare at me. Her look says, "You cannot possibly believe I am so stupid as to be interested in that silly thing, do you?"

She is not fooled by a laser pointer. Sometimes Stinky will play with a new toy for seconds at a time. Sometimes she will engage in a totally different way.

I think I like it, but I'm not sure...

Now it's purrfect!

Metaphor (Stinky) on the left, Simile on the right
But regardless of how much she engages with her toys, regardless of the brand of diet cat food she is fed in strictly measured amounts... Stinky is a very big girl. She got fat in the year after we moved (with her sister, who died shortly after) in with my now ex-boyfriend, when she was only three years old. It was a very stressful environment for all of us, and Stinky blew up like a balloon.

I had hoped, once the two of us were in a stress-free apartment, continuing on her diet, and with plenty of play opportunities, a nice high perch from which to watch the birdies and squirrels, the weight would come off. It's been several years now, and that hasn't happened (for either of us).

Stinky, now ten, gets regular vet visits, and though the vet agrees that being this obese isn't good for any cat, her heart is strong, her lungs are clear, her teeth are good, and she doesn't test positive for diabetes. Healthy.  She purrs a lot, is more cuddly than she used to be, so I judge to be her happy, too.

I'm thinking perhaps Stinky is my life lesson from the Universe, because I have long been not only dissatisfied with her shape, but my own.

In theory, I am a huge believer in the idea that human beings come in all shapes and sizes. I, too, am not diabetic, have a strong heart and lungs, decent (if not fabulous) cholesterol levels and low blood pressure.

I too am a big girl. 

Unlike Stinky, I am not carefully measuring my food. For the most part, I eat a healthy diet, lots of broccoli and salads, I drink plenty of water and get enough sleep, but I do have my indulgences. (Hello, chocolate!) I would be even healthier if I could find a way to move more. That's been a challenge since I developed Morton's neuroma in my right foot several years ago. Hiking and walking and dancing at an aerobic level is out; despite my custom orthotic inserts and butt-ugly extra-wide shoes, it hurts too much, and I pay for it too long in terms of pain and immobility afterward.

Cover of
Cover of Curves
This fall, I developed what we first thought was tendinitis, but is now officially diagnosed as frozen shoulder in my left shoulder - after dealing with a similar condition in my right shoulder the entire year before.  For years I did the Curves circuit, which did not aggravate my foot too much, but it absolutely killed my shoulder. My physical therapist says no more Curves for a while.

Biking has been suggested, but I am very uncoordinated, so besides the purchase of the bike, I would have to mount a rack for my car so I could drive to a local park, since I am likely to wobble to my death in neighborhood traffic. Realistically? I'm simply not that motivated to ride a bike. Though perhaps an indoor exercise bike would be doable, when funds permit.  I used to love playing volleyball, but need to be able to lift both arms over my head before that even becomes an option.

Once the weather warms up I can swim again, which I enjoy, or I could check out a membership in the "Y" and go for a water aerobics class.

I feel confident I could restrict my diet and vigorously exercise and take off the excess weight. 

After all, I've done it many times before.

And then the weight has always come back to the party, usually bringing friends.

So instead of plunging once again into that yo-yo cycle, I'm going to plunge into figuring out just where my head needs to be. Oh, I won't postpone finding some way to exercise, because I know I need to - and I enjoy life more when I feel fit.

But maybe I need to accept that the Universe does not intend for me to be slim, or even "normal" sized (whatever that is) on a permanent basis.  None of the women in my family have been anything but plump as they aged, and so I might be battling genetic tendencies as well as a chocolate addiction.  Honestly? If I have to choose between giving up chocolate forever, and being fat, I say, "Bring on the muumuus!"

Does this box make me look fat?
I know, theoretically, that hating on ourselves as a diet technique may be a large part of why we regain the weight. That depriving ourselves of foods we love simply brings on binges, later. That the whole meme of "If I get to be XX pounds or size XX, then I would be so happy" simply isn't true.  I am actually rather happy with myself and my life right now.

Except when my body parts hurt. Or when I'm picking out my work wardrobe for the week and I can't even choose clothes that fit me just fine a year ago.

I adore Stinky, in all her glorious Stinky abundance.

I have friends of all shapes and sizes, and I don't judge them harshly (okay, I admit that the slim friend who's always yammering about cutting back this or that food so she doesn't get fat kinda ticks me off).

But can I find a way to extend that nonjudgmental love to myself? Can I love myself as I am right now, and really focus on being healthy instead of on getting back to size XX?

I know I "should." I'm going to try. But can I get it from my logical head to my emotional heart?

I always welcome your comments, but this time, am gonna attach some strings.
Please don't suggest any specific diets. Any hate-talk will be deleted or edited.
Please do share about your own emotional struggles with weight, 
an exercise you found unexpectedly delightful, 
or your stories about a fat but lovable pet.

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