For the past two years, I’ve been trying to lose the weight I gained during an infamous summer spent sitting (and drinking. and eating) on the beach in Greece. Truth be told, I haven’t tried very hard. I enrolled at the Evans School of Public Affairs, where I earned a top-notch education in public administration and introduced myself to a world of brilliant minds and great ideas. As much as I love the end result – earning a Master of Public Administration – I have to admit that the process kind of sucked. I met some amazing people and worked through some important problems while at Evans, but I also spent two years holed up in a library, so stressed out that a mid-afternoon anxiety attack and 40+ ounces of coffee a day were routine. Also routine were happy hours and burgers and college food on The Ave… none of which made me any healthier. I did manage to drop some lbs. while in graduate school, but not because I was trying. Really, I just couldn’t eat because: high stress levels + sleep deprivation + hangover = an incredible loss of appetite.
Then, on April Fool’s Day 2012, I made a spontaneous decision that changed my life: I fell in love with a puppy and brought him home.
Since the moment Blaze came home with me, my life has been turned upside-down – in the best way possible. I’m up at 6am every day for a 30 minute walk, which is repeated at least two more times throughout the day. Now, I am not much of an early riser. In fact, I’d happily sleep through most mornings and never miss a thing. In order to make morning walks with an incredibly hyper puppy tolerable, I’ve found that I need to go to bed as early as 9 or 10pm every single night – which has put a distinct damper on my post-work playtime. As a result of early bedtimes, lots of walking, and a significant lack of booze, Blaze helped me put on 4 lbs. of muscle in the first 6 weeks I had him. Woot! Way to go puppy! He’s also helped me make new friends and learn a special brand of patience that I like to call “it’s totally okay that you ate the carpet because oh my gosh those ears are cute!”
I’ve always heard that puppies and dogs help their owners get active and lose weight. I thought that this was a result of feeling motivated and inspired to make sure that your puppy has the best life possible. I was totally wrong. People lose weight when they invest in a puppy because they are always exhausted. My constant mission in life is to exhaust the puppy. Ironically, at the end of most days it is me that is exhausted rather than Blaze. But, he keeps me sane. And on track. And the sight of him playing soccer with his tennis balls or tripping over his ridiculously large paws makes me laugh out loud in public when I’m totally alone. Bootcamp starts this week, as does phase two of the Paleo challenge. Having personal goals for both short- and long-terms while caring for a 6-month old Shepskie that will NOT sit still has been the best wellness equation I could have hoped to develop. If I learned anything in the past two years, it is that people are risk adverse by nature. In the pursuit of better lives, everyone has to face a catalyst to change their habits. The catalyst could be a diagnosis, a natural disaster, a decision to just change, or the addition (or tragic removal) of a family member. For me, it was a rambunctious puppy. Blaze was and is the catalyst I needed to turn myself around and get on track to prepare for my 2012 race calendar.