This article is indirectly about cats so please don’t think that it is not. It’s looking at the subject of domestic cats obliquely but it is just as relevant because there is a link between obese people and obese cats. The problem runs in parallel because people normalise obesity and don’t recognise it either in themselves or their cat.
And that’s where my problems started. Until I was around the age of 60, I was always fairly slim by today’s standards. It didn’t require any effort. My metabolism slowed down and I started to put on weight because I stayed on my usual diet which was designed for a higher metabolic rate. And at the time I was drinking alcohol every day. I was relying upon preprepared supermarket foods mainly. Alcohol puts on weight. We all know it. Pre-prepared foods are high in salt which causes high blood pressure.
I did not fully recognise the fact that I was putting on weight. Or I sort of recognised it and sort of accepted it until my blood pressure as measured by my doctor was found to be too high, outside the usual limits. For me, that was the trigger to entirely change my lifestyle because I am scared of strokes. Lifestyle includes diet and by diet, I mean a permanent change to the food that one eats in order to maintain a good BMI, and a slender figure. It took me eight years.
Radical change takes time
Why did it take me eight years? It’s because I was embarking on a radical change to my life and diet. I went from pre-processed foods to pure foods. I went from an Indian chicken curry to an avocado or an apple. And that is for dinner! If it takes years to develop habits it can take an equal number of years to adopt new and better habits.
I eat pure foods more or less with the occasional sandwich. I eat foods high in bran for breakfast. I think about my diet. Most importantly even without weighing myself I know whether I am putting on weight or losing weight. I don’t have weighing scales. I don’t need them. I can sense the difference even if it is a pound gain in weight.
I think this is vital to maintaining a healthy weight. You’ve got to be sensitive to your body. You’ve got to be aware of how your body is responding to your diet and adjust it accordingly. For example, if I eat a little bit too much in the evening on one day, I will remove some calories from my diet the next day, keeping things in balance.
I don’t actually measure the calories using a calculator, I simply do it by employing common sense and reducing the quantity of food while maintaining the same quality. An easy way to reduce quantity is to cut back on what you eat when you watch television.
I think a major problem here is that people like to eat something tasty when they are watching television. It is the approach that we see in cinemas. They sell popcorn and other sweets to customers who want to watch their films.
When we settle down to a film on television, we like to eat something at the same time. It might be a cup of tea and a bit of cake. Very nice. But do that every evening and you are ingesting say about 300 calories extra per day which you’re not likely to burn if you are an elderly person. It gets transferred to fat. The fat is stored for a day when it might be burned but without a change in lifestyle it never will be and weight will be piled on gradually over the years.
Gradual is invisible until it is a health problem
This is part of the problem; weight gain is often very gradual as is weight loss which explains why it took me eight years to reach a healthy BMI and a slender profile. When you gain weight very slowly you normalise each step. So, you put on 2 pounds over three months and hardly recognise it. You put on 4 pounds and you adjust the belt on your trousers. It doesn’t look that bad and you accept it. A gradual change towards obesity develops.
And when you normalise your excess weight, you can normalise the excess weight of your cat. It’s been said a lot but there’s an obesity epidemic in people and domestic cats in the West, particularly America and also in the UK.
Type II diabetes
The big, bad spin-off is that there’s also been a dramatic increase in feline diabetes mellitus i.e. sugar diabetes in domestic cats. Most of the time this is due to excess weight. The clock can be turned back as it can in humans. Numerous studies have proved that if a person suffering from type II diabetes due to excess weight loses weight, they also lose the Type II diabetes. It’s that easy but perhaps it isn’t that easy because it requires the right attitude and a total mental commitment.
Sometimes you can achieve that commitment through a trigger event. In my instance it was high blood pressure. It wasn’t that high but too high for health. Excess weight can cause strokes; a very debilitating illness which ruins lives. I could not stand it. From that day on about eight years ago I totally change my life to one where I exercise mainly through walking every day plus Pilates and a reduction in food input of about two thirds.
To restate that, I eat two thirds less compared to what I ate about eight years ago. Let’s say that when I was 60 my food intake was a hundred percent. Nowadays it is about 40%. A dramatic reduction.
This brings me to the next topic. Hunger. When you reduce your food intake from one which is excessive to one which is healthier you are going to feel hungry. If you want to lose weight, I think that it is good to feel hungry. You shouldn’t try and resolve that hunger by eating something immediately. If you wait two hours and then eat something you will burn some of that fat which is your target after all.
You have to get used to being hungry until your body has learned to accept less food including your stomach. Nowadays I can’t eat a proper sized meal. I can’t eat the sort of meal I ate eight years ago. I feel bloated and uncomfortable. My stomach can’t cope with it. I have trained myself both in terms of attitude and physiology to eat and accept less. This takes a long time. In my case it took me eight years.
Only about now, over the past several months have I truly stabilise my BMI to a near-perfect level. For me, the greatest benefit has been not to nibble sweet treats in the evening while watching television. Cut those out. Have an apple instead and leave it at that.
Initially you will go to bed feeling hungry. You will be dreaming of Kentucky Fried Chicken or a McDonald’s hamburger. Or perhaps steak and chips. Suck on a nice boiled sweet instead and you will eventually rid yourself of those urges. Yes, it’s about commitment. It is hard. But it gets easier because you recondition your mind and body to the point where it all comes naturally.
Health benefits and increased activity
And the benefits are huge. Obesity causes so many health problems. Type II diabetes is the number one health problem but that itself causes very many sub-health problems such as kidney, liver and heart problems.
And of course, it damages the nerves in the extremities of the body which is why you see diabetics with leg amputations. Eventually it kills you. But there are other benefits. As you lose weight and become a lot lighter you become more active which means you burn more calories which means maintaining a lower weight is much easier.
And in being more active you help to maintain your physical strength in old age which is important because you lose muscle mass through natural wastage. You can’t stop that so it pays to do moderate exercise and Pilates daily to maintain flexibility and function.
Benefits outweigh the challenges and apparent downsides
The benefits of a slow journey to a healthy weighs outweigh the challenges. I heartily recommend the journey.
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