I am a volunteer for a charity called the Cinnamon Trust. We walk dogs belonging to people who are either too old or too ill to do it themselves. This is great, because it means they can keep their much-loved pets with them for as long as possible. Last week, I walked a “new” dog. I was chatting to Fat Fella about it afterwards and commented how awful it was to see a dog who was in such pain because he was so fat and arthritic. “I would never allow an animal of mine to get in such a state,” I proclaimed self-righteously. And, to be fair, that’s true. I wouldn’t.
I wouldn’t call any of my pets skinny, exactly, and I am not great at refusing them treats, but I do make sure they keep to a reasonably healthy weight. I wonder why I find it so straightforward and easy to do it for them, but not for myself? If my dog groaned and winced whenever she stood up, as I do, she would be on a diet so fast, her head would spin.
Similarly, when my children were younger and I had more control over what they ate, they were both the picture of good health. Poster children for the benefits of eating a varied, yet balanced diet, heavy on fruit and veg and light on treats. I took such pride in their fabulous diets. Yet, I could not do the same for myself.
Nowadays things are a bit different as far as the children’s diets go. My son’s nickname of Captain Shoelace is well deserved. He is very tall and very, very thin. Not, sad to say, as a result of a healthy diet. Far from it. I firmly believe that the fact that he likes apples, and has got in the habit of eating one a day, is all that stands between him and a dose of scurvy. He lives on crap energy drinks, cakes, crisps and chips. The “shoelace” effect is simply the result of a lot of high energy exercise.
My lovely daughter, on the other hand, is no shoelace. Captain Jellybean would be a better name for her. She is very well rounded these days. The first time she got pocket money and had an independent trip to the shops with it, she returned home with a shopping bag bulging with chocolates, biscuits and sweets. This was a child who took delight in eating as many as nine different types of fruit and vegetables in a single sitting. Tragically, her love affair with vegetables had, for the time being, come to an end.
The situation with Captain Jellybean presents a tricky challenge for me. How do I tackle it? I don’t want to pass on my own lifetime obsession with weight, but I can’t completely ignore it, can I? She has a minor medical condition that would be improved were she to lose a bit of weight. Her doctor has told her that she needs to look at her diet and exercise regime and see if she can lose some pounds. I want to encourage her, but I really don’t want her to “go on a diet”. I truly believe that dieting like that ends up making you fatter.
Of course, we keep coming up with ways to get her to exercise more, and she is fairly cooperative. She loves the step tracker that her aunt gave her for her birthday and has started boxing classes recently. But if left to herself, she is completely inactive and, like many (most?) teenagers will just slump on her bed watching YouTube videos.
If only I could simply reduce the amount of kibble I give her and pop her on a leash for an extra walk or two every day! If only I could do the same for myself. Is it wrong to wish I were a dog?
You can find out more about the work of The Cinnamon Trust here: https://cinnamon.org.uk/