Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Old Dog New Tricks

I have been thinking a lot about the expression "You can't teach an old dog new tricks" in the past couple of days. Me being the old dog on the heels of my almost total failure to achieve anything on my fat to fit challenge. Being an information nerd, I decided to do a little 'digging' into the origin and meaning of the expression and I came up with this:

"This must be one of the oldest proverbial sayings in the language. There are many early citations of it (in Heywood, 1546 etc.) and many of those refer to it as an 'old saying'. The earliest example of it in print is in John Fitzherbert's The boke of husbandry, 1534:

...and he [a shepherd] muste teche his dogge to barke whan he wolde haue hym, to ronne whan he wold haue hym, and to leue ronning whan he wolde haue hym; or els he is not a cunninge shepeherd. The dogge must lerne it, whan he is a whelpe, or els it will not be: for it is harde to make an olde dogge to stoupe.

By 'stoop', Fitzherbert meant 'put its nose to the ground to find a scent', as was the meaning of the verb in the 16th century."

Fitzherbert said HARD, not can't. It is hard to teach an old dog new tricks, but not impossible. This is very encouraging!

My failures have also had me reflecting a bit about my past as a thin person. What was different? I can think of four things:
1. Dancing. Lots and lots and lots of dancing.
2. Serving. This means walking and moving constantly for every shift worked.
3. Not owning a car. This means walking just about everywhere and lugging things home again.
4. A greater social and health awareness. Thinking more carefully about the food I eat, the implications to myself and to the world around me.

It's just a matter of re-acquainting myself if my strong will, my willingness to haul ass, and being more aware of what I am eating. In essence, this old dog has some tricks up her sleeve, they just need to be relearned. The new trick I need to learn is fitting some sort of physical activity and meal planning into a busy life of working, parenting, and volunteering. But this is not impossible, millions of people do it - it just involves a bit of a learning curve and some planning.

Over the course of the last two weeks, I have been having lots of chats with people about thinness, ideal weight, body image, and so on. The crux of it seems to be that your ideal weight is one where you are ultimately healthy - meaning you eat a nice well rounded diet that doesn't have too much salt or sugar and that you do your best to be active a few times a week and feeling happy and comfortable in your own skin. A record year of being overweight - even if just slightly so - has made me realize that I am not happy here.

So it is with great excitement that I announce a big success for me! I have reset the clock on my 30 day shred. As of right now, measurements have been taken, yesterday was the new day one and TODAY I DID MY 30 DAY SHRED FOR THE SECOND DAY IN A ROW! My muscles were sore, I got home late, and I didn't get a chance to "shred it" until 9:45pm - but I did it. Major hurdle jumped.

And for the sake of interest, the Globe and Mail had an interesting news story about sodium regulations in Canadian food. For what it's worth, I find even the beginnings of a conversation about sodium and food regulation to be promising - though the move seems possibly timid and ineffectual. Looks like it will remain up to the individual to shop the outside aisle of the grocery store and watch their own sodium intake.


  1. Great post Sidney. I've had these same types of realizations, and they really are true. Finding a physical activity that you actually enjoy doing is an amazing feeling. I really think you'll like In Defense of Food - and your man seems to think you already own it :) There were some really great reminders in that book that has changed the way our family eats.

  2. Sidney I have really been digging this. As a mom of two kids who has always been on the heavy side let me say this.

    I was never “fit” until I became a mom. Liam was born in Oct. By the time July hit I was heavier then when I was pregnant! I made a decision from that point on to be as healthy as I can be for my kids’ sake. This does not mean being skinny, which is what I had always focused on previously. I simply do not want to be the mom that loses out on experiences with her children because her ass is too big to fit on the ride, or her self esteem is to low to take the shirt off and jump in the water.

    This is what changed for me. I walk everywhere…..everywhere I can walk I do. I am known around the city for pushing that huge dbl stroller. I include the boys in every aspect. If they have a Dr’s apt on kings rd, we walk out. If they need milk we walk to the store. I started running and pushing the boys. This is not something I enjoyed at first, hell it took months until we learned to find the balance with moms running and the boys’ enjoyment of it. Now I run and they get an Ice cream @ the 5 k’s all about finding what works for you.

    My biggest change and what I credit myself with keeping the weight off is simply this “everything in moderation, including moderation”. I am not one of those flighty girls who doesn’t eat. I love food. If I make bad food decisions I make sure to work out harder, or walk longer etc. I never view a “munch fest” as a set back. I just say “nothing white for you for a few days”. This brings me to another major decision I made. Absolutely no white food is allowed in my house. White rice, white bread, no refined sugar! If it says enriched on it, what it really means is that they took out all the good stuff and replaced it with chemicals.

    I always eat off a side plate when home, never a large dinner plate. I squeeze in exercise when ever I can and it’s never really hi impact. Walking taking stairs etc. It’s about making those little changes that you are able to maintain. The Y has this great program. Where you take the kid and work out with them playing on a mat in front of you. I wish they had that when I had my boys.

    I think your doing a great thing with this blog . I love reading it. I absolutely understand that my changes don’t suit everyone but I hope it helps you find what’s going to work for you. Call me anytime if you want to go for walk. You guys live around the corner from me I’m game anytime :)

    And ps……I still detest the moms in play group with their matching Lulu’s and purses!!! Lol If you find a way to diminish my hatred/bitterness of their tight butts and eye makeup please let me know…..Alexis ( I have no idea why I had to select Anonymous to get this to post....I'm not that vain to pretend I have never been a fat-aholic)

  3. Maybe you had to be anonymous because you don't have a google account? I don't know. Thanks for the post! And you have been doing a really great job. The no white food is a big one and we definitely follow that. We are "good eaters" in that we know what should and should not come into the house - but the chips and so on have been creeping into the house with a little more frequency. All in good time. With the reset, I am confident I will have major accomplishments by end November.