Weight Loss Lessons Learned From Your Dog

About 1 year ago my boxer mix puppy was diagnosed with Addison’s Disease. Heard of it before? It’s the same rare condition that occurs in humans too. Basically, it’s characterized by adrenal insufficiency. My puppy’s little adrenal adrenal glads atop her kidneys aren’t producing enough cortisol and aldosterone. This is easily treatable with medication (thank goodness), but it has made my sweet little Sadie a tad bit more lazy. Thus, she is not little anymore…

40 lbs. : Before weight gain...

Lazy and 7lbs later...

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She has consistently been 40lbs. at each doctor visit (she has to go every 25 days for her medication). 2 visits ago her vet felt it necessary to mention that she was now up to 46 lbs! Last visit she was 47 lbs.!!! How did this happen?!?! I know you’re thinking, “what I would give to only have 7 lbs to lose,” but that’s almost 15% of her body weight! 15% of a 180lb women is about 30lbs. That’s significant! Needless to say she is now on a diet and exercise plan…

There are some basic lessons to be learned here from the dog. Let her be your guide.

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1. When we stop exercising or decrease our activity level (and continue eating the same), we will gain weight.

Sadie use to be my best running buddy. She got up to 5 miles at one time. The hubs would even take her on the bike for a good run. After her diagnosis she realized that mommy didn’t mind if she walked a little bit more than running. (She took advantage of my concern for her). At times, when she looked so comfortable on the couch (and I didn’t want to get up either) we skipped walks. This has added to her laziness… Has this happened to you? Have you used an excuse (medical or not) to decrease your exercise or even quit all together? Are you now lazier than ever?

2. When we eat too much, we will gain weight.

For a dog, Sadie is a very good intuitive eater. I fill up her bowl a couple of times a day and she eats as she pleases. She doesn’t find the need to gobble it all down quickly. However, she is very good at making sad eyes and getting me to feed her table food. So on top of her regular food, she would get some chicken, cheese, berries, etc. Not bad foods, but too much food. Can you relate to this? Maybe you think you eat all the right things. You know when you’re hungry and when you’re not. But if you are gaining weight (even slowly) then you are eating TOO MUCH FOOD. Or maybe you are like the dog that races to the food bowl every time it gets filled up. Either way… too much food.

3. Discipline is necessary.

As mentioned before, we are putting the dog on a weight loss plan. Exercise must be a priority. I can’t take Sadie with me on my runs because it’s too much for her. So I must also sacrifice to ensure she still gets her exercise. That means waking up a little bit earlier to make sure that I have time for her to get a quality morning walk. In the evening, the hubs and I take turns after long days at work to make sure she gets a second walk. 2 a days. That’s what it will take for her. She has to be in her cage all day so she must be forced to move. How about you? Do you  have a desk job? Even if you are on your feet, your heart gets used to that. You must increase your activity and make it a priority!

4. Food plans can get us back on track.

For the dog this means keeping track of how many times we are giving her food. Even though she only eats when she’s hungry, she’s still inclined to go the food bowl if there is food in it. That means not making food so accessible for her. We have completely quit giving her table food. She is eating less and should be able to lose weight. We don’t want her to simply maintain which she would probably do just by cutting out table food. We want her to lose weight. So we need to cut out table food and most likely decrease dog food slightly too. Are you on a reasonable, healthy eating plan? Are you being too restrictive that you won’t be able to continue it into the future? Do you even know where to start? This is where your dietitian comes into play. He/She can get you on the right and speak truth about foods and amounts!

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(Updates on Sadie’s weight loss progress to follow) Join me on this weight loss journey. Can you make exercise a priority? Can you visit a dietitian? What lessons have YOU learned about weight loss?

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