Have you ever seen an overweight animal in the wild?
This time of the year we can often be paying the price for overindulgence and identify more with an elephant than a panther after a season of sweets and turkey, cheese and more wine than our recommended daily dose.
The Christmas pudding and chocolates did not help our new year’s figures, but what about if the reason we are extra heavy is not just down to piggery or careless eating alone?
Animals in the wild have to be constantly creative about finding ways to eat or they die. They rarely make nests they dont need or dig burrows for decoration to give other animals inspiration. Animals live a creative life on a daily basis, and those that fail to hone their creative thinking starve. The more a wild animal devises new and unusual traps for prey, the stronger and more nourished they will be.
They eat when they are hungry and rarely hunt out of boredom.
As small children we play without thinking, making up games, languages, pictures, rhymes and cakes and houses out of blocks or binoculars out of toilet rolls. We draw on walls, paths or paper without thinking too much about the outcome. If we are lucky enough to get a train set the fun is in watching the train go on the same journey many times over just for the sheer joy of it.
As adults in a currently competitive world, we tend to encourage children to play but attach learning to the outcome in terms of educational toys and flashcards, cognitive building sets and books with in built morality. With the children developing their cognitive and reading skills, we can sometimes feel that “play” with something we adults do “after work” and if we “have time”.
Play can often be considered a less than useful use of our time and so we dont.
Instead we can develop a vague gaping need that has to be fed. Literally. Cakes, curry, chips, chocolate are all good substitutes because they make us feel good …but for a very short time. Apart from preparing the food, there is no tangible evidence that it existed, unless you count the dishes in the sink or the extra inch around your middle bit.
When you create something, you can wear it, hang it on a wall, send it to a friend, use it to hold flowers, admire it, but most of all acknowledge that you made it and before you did it did not exist.
When you eat a pie it is gone.
When you create you play. Your mind is awake and your hands are busy. When you create for the sake of enjoying the process you feed the part of your mind that can be your greatest ally in your battle with excess weight – your imagination.
So what about if “play” for the sheer joy of it could be embraced as part of a healthy lifestyle? What if your play time was just as important as your running time, your calorie counting time, planning/cooking/preparing your meals time?
What if you feed the need in us to “play” ?
Think about the things you loved to do when you were younger that made you lose track of time? Did you draw? knit? sew? look for bluebells? frogs? birds? play the tin whistle badly? Make stick people out of matches? Make a jigsaw? Make a paper plane? Make a bead bracelet? Earrings? Crochet cushion covers or winter hats?
When I am overweight I am under creative. I am also overweight when I am over tired. I am over tired when I am not making time for “play” …in my case writing or painting. And on the cycle goes…until I stop and make something. Or write something. Or paint something. Anything.
What if you included an old hobby, a new hobby, a skill you used to have or a skill you want to learn as part of your healthy lifestyle with just as much value as running or planning your meals this year?
What if you reclaimed your right to “play” to give your mind a rest and feed that hunger for creativity instead of feeding your body food it doesn’t need instead?
On an emotional level you may have to get over the guilt or feeling silly when you start to create something that looked very different in your head to the executed version.
On a physical level you may have to calm your itchy feet to sit for a while to use your hands while you make something out of nothing.
On a practical level you cannot eat a curry when you are tie dying a t-shirt.
If you are learning a new routine for line dancing, its hard to wonder if the chippy is open whilst you concentrate on the steps.
You cannot sing and eat at the same time.
So what if you include something creative in your new year as part of your overall healthy lifestyle, whether its something you did, something you would love to do, or something you love doing but never seem to have the time between work, house, kids and gym and commitments?
Resolve to give it 10 minutes a day. Just 10 minutes.
You have 1440 minutes in a day, try giving 10 of them to your creative self and see what happens?
Give yourself a gift of those 10 minutes and have a creative, healthy, inspirational start to your new year!