The Inspiration Diet for Dogs and Their People

Facing an upcoming book tour and some cautionary words from the vet, Edward and Millie find the motivation to focus on diet and fitness.

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Maybe it all started with a visit to the vet for Millie’s annual checkup last week but I couldn’t help but notice this morning amidst all the disturbing news out of Libya and the Japanese tsunami and nuclear situation, the media bombardment of weight-loss information, programs, miracle weight-loss pills, revolutionary diet research and absolutely money-back guaranteed diet of the stars. I’m an information junkie, so the first thing I do when I turn off the alarm on my BlackBerry is sleepily check my email. At least half the subject lines were related to weight loss and nutrition such as the foregoing.

I flipped on a cable news channel on my way to the kitchen to get Millie’s breakfast and the anchor was interviewing some expert on how to drop weight and get in shape for beach season. Fast. This was followed by a commercial full of before and after testimonials for a weight-loss meal program that was delivered to your door and had done wonders for Marie Osmond (admittedly, Marie looked pretty good if a bit skeletal). The next commercial was for an in-home exercise machine that could single-handedly transform your body into that of an Olympic triathlete in three easy payments charged to your credit card (plus shipping and handling).

I tapped on my iPad to a default site and you guessed it: I had to X out of a miracle diet pill pitch to get the sports scores I absolutely needed to know.

We are in fact a nation of fatties, at least statistically. The obesity rate is appalling, so clearly there is a market for all these somewhat questionable products and services. But I think what was really weighing on my mind, as it were, was what Millie’s vet, Dr. June, had said: “Millie could lose a few pounds.”

Millie? Admittedly she’s a big girl, just this side of a hundred pounds. Very muscular and fit, and gets lots of exercise. She also gets lots of treats. Lots. And that’s the problem, apparently, which I would love to blame completely on my wife, Julee, but that’s not totally fair (though Julee cannot say no to Millie, and that’s a fact). Yet can anyone say no to a Golden Retriever when she gives you THAT look? Millie doesn’t beg. She just gives you the look designed to melt your heart…and resolve.

Well, this comes at a pretty good time when I am getting ready to go on an extended book tour corresponding with the release of my new book, The Promise of Hope. I need to get into shape too, not just because TV cameras invariably put a few pounds on you but because I put on a few pounds writing the book, snacking while I typed (I can easily demolish a pint of ice cream in 10 minutes). I’ve always exercised a lot so I can eat a lot. I kept up my crazy cardio routine throughout the writing of the book but I completely abandoned weights, my usual 200 ab curls a day, sensible nutrition and other components of a balanced fitness regimen and I paid the price.

So now Millie and I are going to have to exercise some discipline with the treats (Millie only has to lose five to seven pounds and she’s still young; she turns four on April 1). It’ll take both inspiration and perspiration. Peggy Frezon once wrote a great, inspiring story for Guideposts about losing weight with her dog. I’m going back to read it now and then take Millie on a hike. Meanwhile, how do you keep your dogs and yourselves in shape?

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