Watch out – they can really sneak up on you!

Gus and Lucky sneaking up

Uh oh.  I can’t believe it.  Today on our walk, Gus and I took a route that takes us past our vet’s office.  We often go that way just for a change of scenery, and also because we really love Dr. Sermer and her wonderful team, Amber and Sharon.  There’s always a friendly cuddle and a treat for Gus, and we usually have a little visit if they’re not too busy.  I also tend to take advantage of the opportunity to pop Gus on the scale while we’re there, to check his weight.  Today I did that, and I discovered that Gus had gained almost 4 pounds!!!! He’s actually nudged past the upper limit of where his weight should be.  I was horrified.

I feel like such a terrible mother.  How could I let this happen to my baby?

The truth is, if you’re not careful, it doesn’t take much for a few extra pounds to sneak up when you’re not looking.  I should know – I work with this stuff for a living!  I tell my students and clients that the secret to keeping a healthy weight is ridiculously simple:  You have to balance your energy in, and your energy out.  And, you need to get on the scale to check up on things on a regular basis.

So, what happened with Gus?  Well, because of everything that’s been going on, it has been a few months since I last checked his weight.  I think that we’ve just been getting a bit too casual measuring out his food every day.  We tend to eyeball the amount, and I think that we’ve just been gradually feeding him a bit too much, and that’s become the norm.  We didn’t catch it until he gained this much because it has been a much longer time than usual since I last checked it.

Of course, we’ll have to keep an eye on those bits of food that Gus “focuses” on at the table.  As I wrote, he does get mostly vegetables from us, but everything counts!  I guess that’s the other part of the message.  When you think about the “energy in” side of the equation, then you have to look at all the sources of energy – and be aware of those things that you’re not taking into account.  I remember thinking that the leftover bits of food I finished off my children’s plates didn’t count, and the same for any food eaten quickly, while standing over the sink!  But nope, as far as your body is concerned, it all adds up.

Then there’s the other side of things.  “Energy out” refers to all the energy you burn up, through daily activities and exercise.  If you’re trying to inch the scale down, then you can turbo charge things by simply becoming more active.  Of course, intense sessions at the gym are great, but research does show that multiple, shorter bursts of activity throughout the day are just as effective.  Personally, I look for any chance at all to simply MOVE when I can throughout the day.  Just like the nibbles and snacks, any type of activity counts, and is just plain better than sitting on your rear! It all adds up too, in a positive way.

Gus has no trouble with the energy out part.  He gets close to 2 hours of exercise a day, and he runs at full speed for a lot of that time.  In fact, if we’d let him, he’d run after a ball or frizbee until he dropped.

No, I think what happened was just a combination of getting a bit sloppy with his food and treats, and not monitoring it for a while.  In the past, I’ve caught it if he’s put on a pound here and there, and we’ve known that we have to watch out.  This time, I just let it go too long before checking up.

I’ve maintained a steady weight myself for many years now, and I’m convinced that one of the main reasons is the fact that I hop on the scale regularly.  I do eat really well, but I love food and I love eating!  I’m not obsessed with my weight, but I’ve been amazed at how quickly it can add up, especially as I’m approaching the magic “50.”  I’m always glad to keep an eye on things, and to catch it when it’s just an extra pound or two.  I always say that it’s a lot easier to prevent it than to lose it.

So, what about Gus?  Well, I’m actually not that worried.  I know that if we just pay a bit closer attention to the quantities we feed him, and keep him as active as he is, he’ll drop those few pounds in no time.  We’ll pop by the vet’s more often to make sure things are going in the right direction.  In the meantime, there’s just a bit more of him to love!