We all know how important fitness and a healthy weight are–the two go hand in hand. Or make that hand in paw! Like so many things we do with our dogs, gaining weight often doesn’t just include our own weight but our dog’s as well. If you’d like to learn how to lose weight with your dog, we’ve got tips from Peggy Frezon, author of Dieting with My Dog, an important book that takes a personal look at a topic that’s so important to all of us: keeping ourselves–and our dogs–fit.
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What Inspired This Book?
Dieting with my Dog, a memoir by Peggy Frezon, is the story of two full figures and unconditional love takes an honest and often humorous look at the journey of an overweight woman and her chubby spaniel as they struggle to lose weight and get fit together.
(Frezon has also authored The Dieting with My Dog Guide to Weight Loss and Maintenance.)
When the vet warned Peggy that her dog Kelly’s excess weight put her pet at increased risk of diabetes, bone and joint problems, heart disease, Peggy realized that she’d heard those words before…from her own doctor.
“I realized that my unhealthy lifestyle was affecting my dog. I ate junk food, she ate junk food. I didn’t exercise, she didn’t exercise.” She vowed that she and her pooch would get in shape together.
Not only did Peggy help Kelly slim down, but Kelly also provided the motivation and encouragement Peggy needed to stay on a diet and get active. “Kelly is now my furry fitness trainer,” Peggy says.
Peggy lost 41 pounds and Kelly lost 6 pounds (15 percent of her body weight), proving that a pet is good for your health.
Peggy and her family found Kelly through Petfinder, and adopted her when she was about 1 year old. She is a cocker spaniel/long haired dachshund mix and loves her pink bunny toy, and barking at squirrels. And now, she is also a fitness hound!
With that kind of success, we had to learn more! Here’s our interview with Peggy about her tips on dieting and getting fit with your dog:
What was the hardest step in your shared journey toward fitness?
It wasn’t easy breaking my sedentary habits and getting into the routine of taking walks every day. But once I saw how much Kelly loved getting outside and walking around the neighborhood, I caught her enthusiasm. She’s a great motivator!
Was there a “Eureka” moment during your quest to help you and Kelly lose weight?
The moment came when Kelly’s vet told me all the risk factors for being overweight (diabetes, bone and joint problems, heart disease, etc.), and I realized that my own doctor had been giving me the same warnings.
That’s when I made the connections, my bad habits, my lifestyle was affecting her too. If I ate greasy pizza, chances were she was on the receiving end of the crusts.
If I sat at my desk and worked all day without a break, she wasn’t getting a break for a long, healthy walk together either.
Before, I thought she deserved cookies and treats as a way of showing her love. Now I see that, instead, she really needs me to keep her healthy, and keep myself healthy too.
Remaining active can be difficult during bad weather, especially during cold weather. Do have any advice for staying active with your dog during the winter months?
I’m in upstate New York, so we get lots of cold, snowy, icy days here. That’s when I substitute extra playtime for long walks.
We have a long hallway that leads to the kitchen, and I throw her tennis ball down the hall for her to chase (I think she likes sliding on the kitchen tiles at the end, too!).
I also throw the tennis ball up the stairs. She loves it! For myself, I go to the gym. Wouldn’t it be fun to have a gym with a person-sized treadmill next to a doggy-sized treadmill so you could work out together?
What general advice can you offer to other dog lovers who are struggling with their own weight issues?
- Buy the best quality dog food you can afford. Or make your own nutritious dog meals, if you prefer.
- Always measure your dog’s food. I was giving Kelly “two scoops” a day. It turned out my scoops held much more than the 3/4 cup she needed.
- Substitute healthy snacks, such as baby carrots, bananas, and green beans.
- Remind yourself that losing weight and getting fit can help you stay healthy for yourself, your family and your pet.
- Allow yourself a treat once a week. Just be sure to keep the portion size under control: one scoop of frozen yogurt. One yummy cookie. Diets are not going to be successful if we deprive ourselves all the time.
- Seek out support. Join a group such as Weight Watchers. Surround yourself with others who are encouragers and not saboteurs. Take walks with a friend and their dog. Know that you and your dog can help each other–everything, including dieting, is easier with a best friend.
Dieting with My Dog is not a how-to, but a journey of how my dog and I got fit together. It’s also about a bond between pet and pet parent, and how I changed my lifestyle so that I could help her…and how, in turn, she is helping me, motivating me, and ultimately improving both of our health.
Kelly is a rescue dog. We got her when she was about 1 year old, after seeing her picture on Petfinder. She had the cutest expression, with a cocked head and little cowlicks that stuck out all over. We’d always had big dogs before, but something led us to feel that she was the one to join our family.
The funniest thing Kelly does is to remind me to take breaks. If I’ve been working on an assignment for too long, she’ll come up to my desk, sit at my feet and stare at me. If I ignore the stares, she’ll nudge me. And if I ignore the nudge, she’ll jump up and slap her paw down on the computer keyboard. That never fails to get my attention!
For More About Peggy Frezon:
Author Peggy Frezon is a longtime professional writer. She’s also authored numerous stories in Chicken Soup and other books.
- read about Peggy Frezon’s books and visit her blog
- visit www.facebook.com/PeggyFrezonBooks
- follow @PeggyFrezon on Twitter