Dear Zelda,

We've really appreciated your good remarks in the past.  My husband and I are both trying to lose weight and not succeeding too well. I've lost up to about 50 pounds several times in the past and then regained it and more, but would sure appreciate some help staying on course now.

Your Admirers

Dear Admirers,

Thanks for your good-to-my-ears comment. I used to think that inside me was a skinny dog just trying to get out.  I found I could usually keep her quiet with cookies, but that wasn't a good solution to my weight problem.

The weight loss issue deserves a heavy response, because 89% of women in America also think they need to lose weight. You and your husband can be each other's coach and motivator (not watchdog)  Try winning together by losing together. Look upon your past attempts at permanent weight loss as a learning experience, not a failure. Losing 50 pounds is a commend-a-bull achievement. Think about why your former strategies didn't work long-term, and then use that as a guideline when you devise a new strategy. Discover what triggers you to eat by keeping a food diary, and charting accompanying events and emotions. It's all about having a steady diet of exercising more and eating less. As Aristotle said, "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." Here are my suggestions and healthy habits that are do-a-bull:

  • Place a picture of yourself (50 pounds, or whatever, slimmer) on your refrigerator.
  • Write down your weight goals and stick them next to your picture.
  • If you don't have a dog, adopt one and take her/him for daily walks.
  • Never food shop when your stomach is growling.
  • Eat (5) smaller meals instead of (3) larger ones.
  • Instead of movie dates, go on 'moving dates'  (bike, bowl, hike, golf).
  • Walk while watching your favorite television show.
  • Get a 10 lb. bag of fat from the butcher.  Divide into 1 lb. portions and place in plastic bags. Keep the bags of fat in your  refrigerator.  Every time you lose a pound remove a bag from the refrigerator and put it in the freezer. If you gain it back, you'll have to add it back to the refrigerator.  It's amazing how gross a pound of fat can look.  It may inspire you to keep it in the freezer and off your fanny. It will also be a reminder to eat less every time you open the refrigerator.
  • Get a cordless phone and walk while talking on the phone...even if you walk in circles.
  • Keep moving!
  • Wear clothes that are a little too tight. When it's uncomfortable to eat, you'll eat less.
  • Avoid fast-foods, soda, and the candy aisle in the market.
  • Don't woof your food or lick your plate clean.
  • Drink lots of water, and then some more.
  • Eat plenty of high-fiber foods and foods that are rich in water   
     (fruits, veggies, broth-based soups).
  • Get enough Z'zzzzzz's.
  • When you both reach your weight goal, reward each other with a Day
    Spa Certificate, or plan an active vacation. (Check out Travel  
    and Leisure Magazine.)
You can read about the Cooper Institute Weight Management Research Center www.cooperinst.org/wtmgmt.asp and learn about the lifestyle approach to long-term weight loss. Exercising and keeping the weight off will give you a new leash on life. I can't think of better incentives to stay the course...unless your class reunion's coming up. Stick together, slim together, and smooch together. A kiss burns 9 calories. Indulge.  

Zelda

Dear Zelda,

How do you maintain that girlish figure? I spend MINUTES on the treadmill and can't lose the potbelly.
What do you advise?

EZ

Dear EZ,

My jowls are blushing.

From 25%-40% of all dogs are overweight.  Grrrrrrr. Canine obesity can lead
to high blood pressure, liver and kidney disease, cancer, diabetes, and intestinal problems which could put us at greater risk when being anesthetized for surgical procedures. Ruff! Have someone run her/his hand across your side, and if your ribs can't be felt, and you have a belly-drag, it might be time to start cutting out some kibbles,.  Get to a vet before starting a weight-loss plan, because there are dangerous conditions such as hypothyroidism and congestive heart failure that make themselves known with weight gain. Demanding modeling sessions, brisk walks, wrestling with Zoe and Zee Zee, and limiting fatty snacks all help tuck my tummy. (There's not too much I can do about my waddle and my wrinkles.)  I try to eat less, and exercise more. "A romp a day keeps the rump at bay" is an adopt-a-bull motto. Short of going to a Fido Flab Farm, you might try these suggestions:

Stop with the begging.
Find a playmate.
Play fetch or Frisbee.
Take your master on a daily power walk (or run while she/he rides a bike).
Substitute veggies such as carrots or broccoli for treats. (Watch the gas.)
Eat two to four smaller meals a day instead of one big meal.
Try a weight-control dog food formula.
Get weighed regularly.

Ann-si Li, D.V.M., believes garlic is a good weight loss tool. If you're small, eating 1/4 -1/2 clove crushed garlic, and if you're large, eating 1 to 2 cloves per day with food might improve your digestive system. However, eating the garlic does put you at risk for being permanently put out of the bedroom and living room. To determine your maintenance energy requirement (MER), and learn more about pet nutrition, go to petdiets.com.  If you drop the pounds, going for "Best of Show in Lean Body Mass" could be EZ!
Don't let it all hang out.

Zelda