Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Reality TV

Why do I feel so guilty admitting that I like reality TV shows? Does it seem too trivial, unlike the awesome John Adams documentary or educational programs on Animal Planet? Or is it because they're not deep or even clever, like episodes of Boston Legal or CSI? Or entertaining like The Office? There are many reality shows I've never watched (American Idol, Dancing with the Stars). But, as someone struggling with my own weight loss issues, I do enjoy The Biggest Loser.

The show isn't perfect. You have to get past the agonizingly slow pace, frustrating constant recaps and in-your-face product placement. But I've got to admit, the show inspires me. This season is the heaviest season ever, with many contestants starting at more than 300 lbs, and some close to 400. Yet, by the end of the season most of them will not only be half their size, but also fit and toned. They'll have learned healthy nutritious eating habits, not binge dieting. I've got to imagine that these skills help them to keep the weight off for life. I hope so.

I've never had to deal with that significant amount of weight to lose, but all dieters know that our own 20, 30, 40 or whatever pounds is a struggle. On the show, contestants train for 6-10 hours a day. Watching them spin 'til every inch of them is covered in sweat and lift weights until they cry (and they do) inspires me to get on my elliptical and work out for at least a measly 30 minutes. If they can do it, then so can I!

So I'll try not to be embarrassed that I enjoy watching The Biggest Loser. If it inspires me to lose weight and eat healthier, then win-win.

Paws for Reflection: This is so appropriate when it comes to exercising! "Success is 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration." --Thomas Edison

Monday, February 23, 2009

Stubborn Pounds

In my new book, I'm writing a lot about dieting. The subject that never goes away.
This past year I lost a lot of weight, but those last few pounds are still hanging on.

And I know why.

I haven't yet fully committed to my lifestyle changes. I know that the changes I've made over the last year work. But part of me misses the old me. I can't quite let go of those desires to veg on the couch or succumb to the temptation of gooey pizza.

One day I'm eating healthy and sweating on the elliptical. The next day lo and behold! I've lost weight. Yay! Then, I slip back into a few of my old habits. Not too many. But enough to make a negative impact. I know what I'm doing wrong. I choose a reasonable snack, like crunchy whole grain dry cereal. But I munch it directly out of the box, gobbling unmeasured handfuls until I've consumed an unhealthy amount of even a healthy product. Then, before I know it, a weight gain. I feel guilty, so I get back to business the next few days. Inevitably, however, I slip and I've eaten a massive burrito from Moe's with cheese and sour cream, just because we had a Buy-One-Get-One-Free coupon.

So here I am again. My new size 8 pants feel snug. I'm muffin-topping over the waistband. I feel sluggish and heavy. But still, I'm armed with tools that have worked for me in the past. I just have to put them back into action. Okay I can do it!

Paws for Reflection: Knowing what to do is easier than following through. But following through is the part that counts.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Which is the Best Cookie?

Today I thought I'd conduct an experiment. Last week I'd purchased a few pounds of biscuits from the pet shop's Treat Bar, and had the most fun selecting different cookies and snacks to fill my goodie bag. Since I'd spent so much time choosing just the right ones, I was insanely curious to see which treats would be Kelly's favorites.(Oops, in the picture above I missed her head!)

So I set up a row of different snacks on the kitchen floor. I asked Kelly to sit in front of them, and then said "Okay!" and let her run up and choose. Would she sniff them all over before deciding? (Possibly taking as long as it takes me to decide anything, going back and forth several times, worrying over each option!) Maybe she'd go for the most brightly colored snack, one that stood out from the others. Or would she simply grab the one closest to her?

I ran the very scientific experiment several times. Would she pick the same cookie first each time?

In the end I discovered that there was positively no correlation between biscuit and Kelly's selection. No hierarchy in the ranking of pet shop cookies. Kelly chose a different treat each time and it made no difference what color it was, where it was placed or if it was what I guessed to be her favorite flavor.

But she's hoping that I conduct this experiment again, soon and often.

Paws for Reflection: When it comes to good food, try it all!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Top Dog--Marley

Meet Marley, beautiful German Shepherd dog of Ellen Fay. Although Marely has been known to jump on the couch and greet delivery men enthusiastically, she's proven that she's got what it takes to be a Good Citizen. Marley, companion to Milo the pug and friend to all at doggy day care, recently passed the Canine Good Citizen test.
Requirements of this test include:
1. Allow a friendly stranger to approach, and sit still while being petted.
2. Behave politely around other dogs. Obviously, no aggression.
3. Cooperate for veterinary examinations and grooming.
4. Walk on a leash without tugging and going berserk. This is not the same type of healing as for obedience classes where the dog must be perfectly aligned and sit when you come to a stop. But a nice, easy walk.
5. Obey basic commands such as sit, stay and come.
6. Remain calm when left with someone else and the owner is out of sight.

Congratulations Marley!

I must say, Kelly has a little trouble with #2, and gets partial points off for #3 since she is wonderful with the veterinarian but doesn't like the groomer (due largely to her major issues with #6).

Paws for Reflection: It occurs to me that to be a good citizen, canine or otherwise, we're pretty much following the Golden Rule: Do Unto Others as You Would Have them Do Unto You.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

How Not to Groom a Dog

1. Don't buy a long haired dog because she's sooooo cute, unless you plan to bring her to the groomers regularly, or know how to groom her yourself.
2. Don't spoil her so much that she doesn't want to leave your side in order to be left at the groomer.
3. Don't hack at her with scissors because it will take forever and you probably won't achieve a great look.
4. Don't buy the cheapest clippers at the pet store thinking they'll work just fine.
5. Don't expect the instruction pamphlet inside the clipper package to tell you everything you need to know.
6. Don't attempt to groom your long haired dog without an extra person to help and a pocket full of treats.
7. Don't even think about using clippers on a wet dog.
8. Don't expect your wet dog to stand still for a noisy hair dryer.
9. Don't throw away your cheap clippers in disgust, then buy a more expensive pair only to realize when you first try to use them on your dog that they actually work, and now you've made a bald spot in the middle of her back.
10. Don't forget to reward your dog for her patience when you're done...and you deserve a reward too!

So, well, we've been having a challenge trying to groom Kelly. She doesn't need anything fancy, but she needs a trim, and the hair between her pads needs to be kept short. We did our best, but it took a long time, and we're all exhausted. Kelly's in her bed, munching away on her bone and I'm going upstairs to clean off all the dog hair. Tomorrow it's off to the book store to buy a book on grooming and learn how to do this right. Stay tuned.

Paws for Reflection: They don't write those "Dummies" books for nothing!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Did Kelly write this post?

Cartoon by Peter Steiner. Originally published in The New Yorker, page 61 of July 5, 1993 (Vol.69 (LXIX) no. 20)

This cartoon--one of the most frequently reproduced cartoons from New Yorker magazine--is so popular it's actually become an adage, commenting on the anonymity of the Internet. It's even included in many textbooks about technology, and has inspired a play,
'Nobody Knows I'm a Dog,'' by Alan David Perkins.

According to this article in the New York Times, Steiner has been a regular contributor to the New Yorker magazine since 1980.

I must say, I don't really give the issue of Internet deception too much of a thought, mainly because I'm usually not using the Internet in ways that put myself in this position. I've never been in a chat room, and I mainly email with people I know. The fear of who might be lurking beyond that screen was more of an issue for me when the Internet was new and my kids were little. We kept our only computer in the living room and I'd look over their shoulder when they were using it. I bought my daughter books like by Katherine Tarbox, about a young girl who was lured through the Internet into a dangerous rendez-vous with a man she thought was a romantic interest. Now it's common for each member of the family to have their own computer, often laptops that can be carried around and used privately almost anywhere. Fortunately, I think kids today are really smart about the Internet and most know what is safe and what isn't.

My dog Kelly has been known to try to help me type.

Perhaps she is contributing to my posts more than you know?!!

Paws for Reflection: Who is behind that email or facebook page you're reading?