My dog Lou is almost eleven years old. I didn’t realize how grey she was getting until I looked at some old pictures of her and saw how dark her muzzle used to be. This past winter we noticed that she limped occasionally, especially first thing in the morning. I can sympathize as I feel pretty stiff when I get out of bed too.
It sucks getting old.
But things got so bad that by the beginning of June she was limping on three legs, not able to put any weight at all on her front right paw. Alarmed, I took her to the vet who said she somehow wrenched her right shoulder, and it was probably made worse by arthritis. She prescribed some anti-inflammatory/pain-killers for her and advised that we should curtail her walks for a few weeks until she’s feeling better. She also said that Lou had to lose some weight, since her weight probably exacerbated her shoulder injury.
Let me tell you something about my dog. She never met a meal she didn’t like. She eats everything; fruits, vegetables, scraps off the table, human junk food, any and all dog food. We never have to worry about cleaning the kitchen floor because Lou will lick up anything that spills. She also begs constantly for food. Getting this dog’s weight down is not easy.
I’ve heard an old adage: Show me a fat dog and I’ll show you a fat owner. Confession time. I need to lose weight too. My weight rose this past fall and winter when an injury kept me from the gym. When I was finally able to return, I found it hard to get back into the rhythm of a regular exercise schedule. And I have to admit, I love food almost as much as my dog does.
Perhaps if I had a different occupation, I would burn up more calories. But as a writer, I need to spend a lot of time sitting in front of my computer, working on my writing projects. After all, isn’t the battle cry of the productive writer “BICHOK (Butt in chair, hands on keyboard)? I need to move, to exercise more in order to lose weight, but I also need time to write. How do I reconcile these two needs?
I’m still trying to figure that out, but in an effort for both the dog and I to lose a few pounds this summer, we have to employ a few strategies:
- Portion control – Both of us need to cut back. I’ve heard using smaller plates helps. I just have to remember not to fill mine up more than once. In Lou’s case, I have to be more careful with her portions. I measure her meals with a 1/3 cup scoop, but I know I’ve been guilty of giving her a rounded scoop from time to time. For her own good, that has to stop.
- Bait and switch – I’m going to try to keep healthy snacks, like fresh baby carrots in the fridge for those times when I get the munchies. Lou probably likes them more than I do, but hopefully, they’ll keep both of us from eating higher calorie treats.
- Get the whole family on board – My husband is notorious for bringing treats into the house that I can’t keep my hands off. I’ll need to convince him that I’m too weak to be in the same vicinity as Doritos and Lays chips. Actually, I think he already knows that. It goes without saying that Lou does not get any of these treats. Unless they fall on the floor.
- Make time to exercise – I have to schedule time for exercise and fit it in as if it was an appointment, like going to the dentist (and almost as much fun). This is going to be tough; I find it very easy to slack off. Once Lou gets the okay from her vet, we’ll both have to walk more.
- Power writing – I read an interesting article by fellow Carina writer Susan Edwards who talks about increasing her word count through power writing. She has to commit at least one hour a day to writing. Just writing. No stopping to look for the perfect word, to research, or check emails. Just writing. Susan makes herself accountable by working with a group. I have a bad habit of thinking I need a big chunk of time before I can sit down to write something new. So I might go for days without writing anything, while I wait for several precious, uninterrupted hours to materialize. But if I can write at least one hour a day, every day, it will not only keep me more connected to my story and hopefully increase the word count, it will allow me to schedule time for exercise. Writing hour first, then the gym. Lou, on the other hand, gets a pass on the writing. Her only occupation is eating, sleeping and looking cute.
I have no idea if I can stick to these strategies but I need to try. All my too-tight clothing is telling me it’s time. And Lou needs me to be strong for her as well. I foresee a lot of begging and crying. From both of us.
How do you make time for exercise in your busy schedule? If you’re a writer, do you find it hard to be a productive writer and stay healthy?