Wednesday, May 30, 2012

My Beagle Diet - Week 2 Day 1

     I never realized that the start of a new week can actually be refreshing. Granted, it's a Wednesday, not a Monday, but today is Day 1 of Week 2 of my Beagle Diet and I feel.... refreshed!

Relaxing outside after my walk this morning...

    It rained a lot last night so this morning it was a lot cooler outside. Mom took Zoya and me for a walk for about 25 minutes, then we came home and had some breakfast. Speaking of food... yesterday I only ate about 3/4 cup of my food. I really need to work on that... I just don't get it, it's like sometimes I'm just not hungry even if I should be.

    Mom says that's because I don't eat regularly. She said, "If you eat regularly, your body will adapt and you'll become hungry at the right times. But you have to start eating regularly even if you're not hungry in order to force your body into a routine."

    Mom knows lots of stuff so I guess I should just trust what she says... Puppy Steps! I can't expect overnight success when I didn't get this way overnight... and I can't expect to be successful if I try to make too many big changes all at once... so Puppy Steps will have to do for now.

Week 2 Day 1 ~ Accountability Pics
Week 2 Day 1 of my Beagle Diet!

Walking around this morning, sniffing stuff...

I was winning! Zoya's too slow!
(Zoya didn't know it was a race...)

It's a lot of work to smell everything... I was tired by the end of the walk.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

One Week Down!

    Today is Day 7 of my first week on this diet and exercise regimen. I am so excited I made it a WHOLE WEEK! This morning we got up early. Dad leaves early for work and mom fixes breakfast and lunch so we all got up. Before she did anything else, mom took me (and Zoya, of course) for a walk.

     It was cool at first, but as the sun got a little higher it started to get warmer and more humid. Maybe it was always humid but the warmer air made it more noticeable...

    Anyway, so we went for about 25 to 27 minutes. Almost a half-hour but that was enough.

Week 1 Day 7 ~ Accountability Pics!
Here I am relaxing for a minute near the daffodils...

Making sure I sniffed everything in sight!

There's a story that goes with these pictures...
I'll add it below!

My Instagram Accountability Pic for today...

Since a lot of Mom's Instagram friends are Japanese, she made a second Accountability Pic that says this site and pictures are for my Diet Blog.

Zoya Tries to Steal the Show!
     The pictures in this collage are showing a sequence. It's kind of funny now, but at the time I was really irritated with my sister, Zoya...

Zoya trying to steal my spotlight...

Here I am, just relaxing after our walk.
Minding my own business...

I was a little hot since the sun was coming up higher and the humidity is awful.

And then... I felt something...
What is that?

What the...?! Zoya! Get out of the camera view!
These are MY Accountability Pics!

You're gonna ruin'em!
Look... if you're going to be in the pics, at least pant a little... or fake it.
Stick your tongue out more, so I don't look like I'm dying and you're fine.
Don't make me look bad!

That's it... a little more...

MORE ZOYA! Show some tongue... we were just walking a lot, look tired!

That's it.... better. Work it, Zoya!

Now... look away. Act natural... Pretend the camera isn't there.
These are great!
We look like models....

Monday, May 28, 2012

Sticking to a Diet & Exercise Plan

    It's not easy, you know.... sticking to a plan. I mean, you spend a long time getting fat. I didn't get fat overnight. It was progressive, gaining a little weight here and there over the last 4 years until suddenly.... POOF! I'm fat....

    Now, granted, I'm not morbidly obese. I can walk up and down the stairs, sit, lay down, etc. without much trouble. I'm just uncomfortable, and I feel the extra weight hurting my legs, hips, shoulders and back.

    So how do you stick to it? How do you get up every day and convince yourself you MUST exercise and you MUST eat right?  I don't know.... it's only day 6! But I'm doing okay, I think.

Day 5 - Recap
    Yesterday was Day 5 of Week 1. Mom and Dad had plans to go out so in the morning Dad took me for my walk. We went for about 15 to 20 minutes. Dad didn't take any accountability pictures yesterday so you'll just have to trust me.

    I was really hungry yesterday! I don't know if it's the extra exercise or what, but I ate a whole 1 3/4 cups of my mixed food in the morning, and then I ate another 3/4 cup in the afternoon.  Mom said that's better, but a little bit more than I'm supposed to have to reach my first goal.

Day 6
    This morning, Mom took me and Zoya for a walk. We went for 25 to 30 minutes. It was technically like 27 minutes if you want to be exact. It's real humid even though it's not too hot yet. We went early, but Mom said we should be careful because there is a "heat advisory" today for the afternoon and early evening. I'm not really sure what a "heat advisory" is... but it can't be good.

    I remember when we lived in Georgia. We actually lived in Georgia twice. The first time, it was before we got Zoya. Right when we moved there, Dad had to go away for a bit, but he's in the Army so that's sort of normal. Then we got Zoya. We found her, actually.... she was at a pet store but it was a special event with other dogs from different places. Zoya was a year older than me at the time... well, she's still a year older than me, but at that time I was almost 1 and Zoya was 2.

   It would get SO HOT and HUMID in Georgia that we seriously thought we might just die being outside even for a minute! Mom would keep the air conditioner on in the apartment and keep curtains and blinds closed so the sun would stay out most of the day. It wasn't fun.... and it made Hawaii seem even greater when we moved there from Georgia :-)

   Anyway.... so this morning we went for almost 30 minutes and Mom took lots of accountability pictures!

Here Zoya was waiting for me while I sniffed some stuff...
Since Zoya doesn't smell everything like I do, and she's not a Beagle, she really doesn't understand...

Walking around... Zoya confused because I wanted to smell the ground a bit closer.

ALWAYS look both ways before crossing the street!

I like to get right up close to the plants and flowers to smell them!

I like to walk ahead sometimes...

After the walk I was very thirsty.
In the bottom picture, that's my little brother Atom watching me... and Zoya in the far background.

Walking Dogs Responsibly
    Even though there are convenient waste receptacles ALL OVER this property, people still refuse to clean up after their dogs. I don't get it... I mean, the bags are RIGHT THERE and there's even a trash can with a bag to put the pooh in once you clean it up... but people instead just leave it.

   This drives me nuts!!!  My Mom and Dad always pick up after us. They say, "There are little kids that like to run through the grass and pooh has germs in it that can make little kids sick. It's important to clean up when you take your dogs out so that the property stays nice. But even if you don't care about how the property looks, you should do it because it's unsanitary to leave it, and it's irresponsible to take your dogs out and not clean up after them."

    Our property has these receptacles all over so it's relatively convenient. But not every property does. You can get the doggy pooh bags at pet stores and the pet aisle in grocery stores too. Sometimes they come with a little container and a clip to secure the bags to a leash for easy access. And you can get refills to put more bags in the container. You can also find these on the internet for real cheap prices, so really, there's no excuse not to clean up after your dogs.

    Another thing that really bugs me is the dogs that aren't kept safe on leashes. I'm not always comfortable with other dogs and I don't want them freely running up to me. It makes me nervous! I also prefer to be on a leash. I don't feel safe when I'm freely walking around, it makes me afraid that something bad might happen.

   My Mom and Dad understand this and they keep me and Zoya (and Atom) safe... but a lot of people let their dogs run around without a leash. They say "Oh, she's good she listens" but that's not the LAW. The LAW says that the dogs must be on a leash unless in a designated, enclosed dog park or yard. It's not just for other people's safety, it's for the safety of the dogs and other animals around. I don't know why this is so difficult for people to understand... but if you refuse to be responsible and keep your dog on a leash, then I can't make promises that I won't nip at them if they approach me and make me nervous. I'm on a leash.... what's your excuse?

    Oh, for the record, we didn't see any dogs off-leash today or recently, but there are a few people that always seem to "accidentally" let their dogs out without a leash, or they walk their dogs without a leash regularly. It's not cool... it's irresponsible.

Video from Today's Walk

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Beagle Fitness: Making Progress

     Last night my hip was bothering me a little. Instead of taking medicine, Mom gave me a hot pack to see if it helped. Mom had surgery a few months ago and she sometimes puts a hot pack on her face so last night we both used them while we relaxed with some TV.
The hot pack is just a standard gel pack that can be frozen or heated.
Mom put it in hot water until it was warm, then wrapped it in a towel for me.

It felt nice...

     This morning, we got up and went for another walk. Mom took me and Zoya for our walk, but then we walked a little bit more. It ended up lasting about 30 minutes. I thought I might die at the end.... but I survived, obviously.  Here are some "Accountability Pics" for today. 

It's technically Day 4 of my Beagle Diet & Exercise Routine
Here we have me, walking (top left), me and Zoya (top right),
me again ()bottom left), and me ahead of Zoya (bottom right).

Being a Beagle is tiring at times. With this incredible nose I feel compelled to smell EVERYTHING!

A compilation of today's Accountability Pics....

This one Mom posted on Instagram.
I get a lot of support through Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, actually... and I appreciate that support. It helps me push through each day and do my best!

Jake's Beagle Diet Chart

And here is the chart Mom made. It's nothing special...
There are actually 2 pages because we set it up for 3 weeks. I have my next vet exam in about 3 weeks so we thought that was a good mile-stone marker.

     The chart has the week and day listed in the left column. They look like fractions but they're really week#/day# so 1/1 is week 1/day 1 and so forth. The two Food columns are to keep track of when Mom puts food in our dish. It's hard to see but starting yesterday, after I go to the dish and eat, Mom checks to see how much is left. Then she writes down about how much I ate, and also how much food is in the dish from that point... she usually adds more in the middle of the day. 

     The Water column tracks how frequently the bowl needs to be cleaned and filled. Sometimes we drink a lot of water... and Zoya makes a MESS when she drinks water! So almost every time Zoya drinks a lot, Mom cleans the dish and gives us fresh water. I don't know what Zoya's problem is, it's like -- she hates to be dirty, but she can't eat or drink without making a mess. 

     The Walk column gives an approximate length of our walk, which is almost always in the morning. It gets humid and hot here and I don't like it much. Granted, it's not as bad in Virginia as it was in Georgia.... but nothing beats Hawaii!! I'm a kama'aina dog ALL THE WAY! I miss our yard... and the trade winds.... and the weather.... <sigh> moving on....

     The last column says "Stretching" but Mom has decided to also write down when I use the hot pack. I didn't do stretching last night, but we are working on figuring out some stretches that will help a Beagle body get more flexible. I was never super flexible... but I have lost a lot of my range of motion with age and weight-gain... so we want to work to get that back.

     What else did I want to mention today?.....

Do Dogs Store Excess Body Fat When They Don't Eat Enough?
     Oh! Yesterday, it looks like all day I only ate about 1 cup of food. But according to the food calculator on DogFoodAdvisor, I really should be eating about 2.3 cups of food per day. I just wasn't hungrier.... Mom said, "With people, if you don't eat enough sometimes your body holds onto fat because it's confused and thinks you're starving to death." 

     We don't know if it's the same for dogs... but I'm going to try to eat a little more today. Mom knows tricks to make me eat more, if we need to use them. Like, when I was really little, she would warm my food with hot water and cool it so it was safe to eat. It tastes good mushy :-) But Mom said it's better to try to eat it the normal way first. So I'll give it my best!

Doggy Diet Accountability
     Anyway, that's it for today. I'm just relaxing a bit, going to try to eat more food today. I went for a good long walk this morning ~ a whole 30 minutes! (and I survived!)  I appreciate the support others have been giving me. It really helps!  Anyone who has tried a diet or exercise plan, or BOTH, knows it's tough to stick to it.  Sharing my story helps me stay accountable, and your support helps me stay motivated. Thanks!

"A man too busy to take care of his health is like a mechanic too busy to take care of his tools" ~Spanish Proverb
It applies to Beagles too!

"Without health, life is not life; it is only a state of languor and suffering - an image of death."
~The Buddha

Dog Diet Tips & Advice
     Any dogs (and people) out there that would like some tips on creating a dog diet, please feel free to email me at BeagleDiet (at) gmail (dot) com  
     Mom and I will gladly share what we have learned, and offer some individual advice based on breed, size, current weight, setting a goal weight, and nutrition. After all, even though my Mom is a writer, she works part-time helping people get healthy, fit, and lose weight... so we are happy to share!


Friday, May 25, 2012

Beagle Diet Accountability

     When you want to succeed at a goal, the best thing to do is increase your accountability. That's partly why this blog will help me lose the weight I'm trying to lose -- by telling EVERYONE about my plans to lose weight and documenting my efforts, I'm more likely to succeed because I'm more likely to stick to my plans with everyone watching me. So.... here goes!

    This is a long weekend for my Dad. He has today (Friday) and Monday off for Memorial Day. When Dad is home, Mom and Dad tend to wake up later than usual. On typical work days they get up between 4:30 and 5am... although, Mom is a lot like me and we are slow to get started in the morning.

     With the extra weight, and age I imagine, I feel achy and sore in the morning. It's like my body doesn't want to get up and get moving. But Mom got up and took me for my walk.

This morning on our walk....

Nose to the ground! 

Relaxing for a minute...

It's a little humid.... humidity, heat, and being overweight really don't mix well....

What was that noise?
Oh... it was just Zoya...

Zoya... she came along for my walk too....
Zoya doesn't smell everything like I do... she's clumsy and walks into stuff and trips Mom a little...
it's funny but not really..

     Anyway, so far so good!  I ate 3/4 cup of my mixed food this morning. Mom has been measuring it to keep track and after I eat she compares what's left to what was in the dish before I ate. She said that many people say "Only feed dogs twice a day" but I don't like to eat like that. Plus, me and Zoya share. So Mom said, "Okay, Jake, if you want to eat on your own, it's okay. I will have to measure it, I guess!" And she made charts to keep track. I'll see if I can share the charts later!

Day One - My Diet Begins!

     I wasn't always fat.... I started out quite healthy, and actually stayed healthy for a while. I began putting on excess weight in 2008 after I got sick and almost died.... But let's start in the beginning.

Born November 1, 2003

Healthy Beagle Puppy

January 2004 - Still healthy

October 2004 - After my first trip to a dog groomer.
Adult Beagle with a healthy weight of about 25 lbs.

December 2004 - My Christmas Gift! I still have this blanket my Mom made me...
I was about 25 to 27 lbs.

Me and Zoya, my sister, in Hawaiian Aloha Shirts - 2006.

2006-ish ~ Not fat yet, still healthy.... good range of motion and flexibility.

Relaxing in Hawaii ~ 2006 
About 25 lbs.

2007-2008-ish. This was in Hawaii... I started to get heavy around that time, putting on a good 10 lbs or so. You can't see in this picture but I could feel it.

     In 2008, I mysteriously developed "immune-mediated thrombocytopenia".... basically, my body was attacking its own platelets and I started bleeding internally. I almost died.  I don't remember much, but I had to go to the hospital and Mom said she brought me special grilled chicken because I wouldn't eat... and I wouldn't even eat that!!!
    I really felt sick but I didn't understand what was going on. Mom said that the doctor gave me a transfusion and after that I seemed to get better. It took a while to feel like "myself" after that... but I eventually got back to normal. And then I got to "normal PLUS" with almost 25 lbs. of weight-gain!

    I now fluctuate between about 45 lbs. and 50 lbs. and it's just miserable. The weight creeps up on you. You don't realize how bad it is until you start to have problems. My hip bothers me a lot now. I struggle on the stairs. I can't sit or lounge around comfortably... It's time for some changes. I'm not getting any younger, after all.

   So.... today is Day One! Well, technically it's Day Two but it took us a day to decide to blog this experience. Want to hear about my plan? Here are the details:

  1. I know I need to lose weight, but I want to set realistic goals. Starting at Day One and saying "I will lose 25 lbs" isn't going to help me do that. So let's say my starting weight is 50 lbs. and I plan to drop 5 lbs. as my first goal. That's a 10% weightloss. I think it's manageable. 
  2. I eat an excellent dog food called Blue Buffalo Basics Turkey & Potato Formula. We mix it with the Blue Wilderness High-Protein Formula in a 2:1 ratio. So about 2/3 of the Basics Formula with 1/3 of the Wilderness Formula. We were using the Chicken high-protein Wilderness one (in the dark blue bag) but Mom switched to the "Healthy Weight" formula to see if that helps me a little. I like this food. It's better mixed, though. The limited ingredients are easy to digest so I have less trouble.... but the high-protein formula alone is too much for me, and too much for Zoya (my sister). But Atom (my brother) gets the high-protein formula even though he also eats mine.
  3. Using the calculator on DogFoodAdvisor we decided to map out how much food I should have for each goal. Since my first goal is 45lbs. with the 2:1 Basics:Wilderness dog food mix, the calories per cup is 376, and the calculator says I should have about 2.3 cups of food per day to sustain a 45lb. body weight. Then switch to 40 lbs. as my second goal and cut food to 2.11 cups/day; 1.91 cups/day for 35 lbs.; and 1.70 cups/day for 30 lbs. My ultimate goal weight is 30 lbs. But I'll be happy if I can get below 40 lbs. again.
  4. I need to get more active. We live in an apartment again, so no yard for free time. I'm not that good with other dogs, so dog parks are out too. With my hip bothering me, long walks will take some adjusting. So for now, Mom takes me for a short walk in the morning. It helps my muscles loosen up - I have stiff muscles after sleeping. It helps digestion too... so for starters, we're going about 10 to 15 minutes which is probably between 1/4 and 1/2 miles depending on our pace. I'm a Beagle, I like to stop and smell the roses.... literally.  And smell everything else while I'm at it!
  5. I'd like to increase my flexibility and range of motion. The stiffness in my joints, mostly from age, is really making exercise difficult. Mom is helping me stretch more so I can maybe get back some flexibility. She's helping me make a chart and keep track. 
     We will probably share the charts, exercises, and stretches with pictures and videos to let others see what we're doing. Like I said, maybe other dogs who are overweight will feel inspired to make positive life changes too, but not everyone knows how to make those changes. I certainly don't know! Mom has lost a lot of weight and she has also struggled so she knows how I feel. She said we will do our best and see what happens. Sometimes you have to start somewhere and then make changes as you see what happens.

    Oh! Also, I'm blogging this experience. I know, I know... there are literally millions of blogs out there. But this blog isn't meant to be cute. This is serious business. I'm getting healthy... and I'm going to show other dogs how I do it. I will let you know what doesn't work, also. Trial and error :-)

These pictures were taken today, 24 May 2012
I have love-handles...

No defined waistline...

Pretty much straight fatness...
I'm not as bad as some dogs I've met, but this is definitely in need of fixing...

I really didn't want Mom to measure me... 

Measurements for May 24, 2012:

  • Body Length 22" 
  • Chest 28" 
  • Waist 28" 
  • Neck 17" 
  • Weight 50 lbs.

And my Beagle Weightloss Journey Begins...
I could really use some support and encouragement so don't be shy :-)