I adopted my first dog Lexi (aka Ugly) a couple years before I joined WW. She was a high energy, holy terror (you can read more about her here if you are so inclined) who caused A LOT of trouble and burned a LOT of calories being bad. Yet, she still became overweight pretty quickly. My terrible eating habits started to rub off on my dog! I would feed her constantly. If she was good (which she rarely was!) I tried to show her how proud of her I was by treating her. She was not great on a leash and what would've helped is walking her more but I didn't have the energy with 100+ pounds on my body to walk her.
Then we adopted Karlee who is a Puggle and predisposed to weight issues because of her breed (pug/beagle mix). She came to us THIN but every time she did something cute I gave her a treat. Karlee is adorable. Everything she does is adorable. I fed her alllll the time. I didn't walk her much because she was happy to snuggle and I liked snuggling too! She was my lazy soulmate.
I joined WW about a year after we adopted Karlee which was 3 years after we adopted Ugly and I started making small changes right away. The girls started getting carrots instead of cookies and I tried to walk them more but they'd become accustomed to treats and high fat foods and it wasn't an easy transition. I was afraid they wouldn't love me as much if I didn't give them what they were used to so for a couple years I went back and forth. I couldn't seem to get them consistently on a good diet because I felt like food=love and by not feeding them I wasn't loving them.
Yes, I do realize how ridiculous that sounds and I'm about to tell you I'm a MUCH better dog owner so before you call the ASPCA and have my dogs taken away, keep reading.
We went to the vet for their wellness check and our vet said "we've got to do something about their weight. They need more walks and I want them to eat this (WICKED EXPENSIVE!!) diet doggy food. I had flashbacks to my doctor telling me at 17 that I should have bypass surgery but I probably wouldn't be able to have it til I turned 18 but I shouldn't wait. I should go to the info seminar immediately and start the process so that I could have the surgery on my 18th birthday. I was a junior in High School and my doctor was suggesting major surgery to correct a lifelong history of obesity...
It was then that it hit me that I can stop this weight problem in its tracks and I can prevent my dogs from getting sick due to their weight. A healthy weight isn't about looking cute, especially for dogs!! It's about taking stress of their joints and organs. I was killing my dogs with my love and something had to change. It was one thing for me to abuse myself, it was another for me to abuse my babies!! To be fair, I really didn't think I was hurting them...I know that sounds ridiculous but I didn't. Up until that moment I really thought they were just chunky. I thought they were happy. I thought they loved me. All I wanted was to be loved...
I was trying to fill my own void with food, then trying to fill my void with pets who I fed to make them love me. I was very sick and very confused.
I'm so glad dogs are so resilient and don't harbor any grudges for all the food I gave them, and then for taking it away and swapping cookies for carrots and high calorie junk kibbles for high price prescription diet food. I feel like I dodged a bullet with my dogs and I'm afraid I might not be so lucky with kids.
I was morbidly obese as a child and I'm not saying that to be funny or prove a point; my medical charts read "morbidly obese". I had a serious weight issue ever since I can remember and I was reminded of that every single day. My peers bullied me relentlessly. My doctors lectured my mom and when I was old enough they lectured me. My dad meant well but most of the time hurt my feelings when he'd tell me "that's enough cheese on your spaghetti" or "you need to eat less carbs". I never really felt good in my body. I felt tormented and trapped and it felt awful. It felt like everyone had an opinion and if they thought it they said it.
I know children are bullied for a plethora of reasons. I know kids are mean and it's part of growing up and I can't protect the children I don't yet have from insults. My kid is going to have 2 moms (who will love him or her VERY much!!) and I am not naive enough to think the world has come so far that no one will tease him or her for it, but that's a different blog for a different day.
I want to build our child's confidence by allowing him/her to be whatever s/he wants to be. I want to introduce our child to team sports so they can have a community and start making friends. I want my child to have the opportunity to be active and experience the confidence boost you can only get from doing something physical. I want my child to be able to wear the clothes s/he wants to wear because s/he likes them and I want my child to be able to pick those clothes off the rack not wondering if they'll fit and having to special order them like I did as a kid.
I want my child to feel love from his/her moms and fur-siblings not food. I want my kid to use food as fuel and enjoy treats occasionally but not feel like s/he has to eat until it hurts. I don't want my kid to hear adults talking about their aches and pains and be able to relate because just getting out of bed in the morning is so much stress on his/her knees that s/he asks for tylenol with breakfast.
All of those things start with us leading by example. If I want my kid to eat good food and move more because it means s/he will be healthier and happier I have to eat good food and move more!! I also want to get on the floor and hop back up, run around like a crazy person, fit into tight spaces while playing hide-and-seek and show my kids I love them by being part of their lives. I'm not a parent yet, I don't know what type of parent I'll be but I do know I will NOT sit on the sidelines!!
I have to start practicing being that kind of mom NOW with my dogs so I can be that kind of mom when we do add a human to our pack and on the days that I don't want to I remember WHY it's worth it.