49: Good Things Come in Small Packages

49: Good Things Come in Small Packages

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dog Did What?

Good Things Come in Small Packages

What really helps motivate me to walk are my dogs, who are my best pals. They keep you honest about walking because when it’s time to go, you can’t disappoint those little faces.

~Wendie Malick

As a child, I was always overweight. And I never thought I’d be able to change my life. I was addicted to food and too lazy to play sports or do any physical activities. I’d eat about ten to twelve meals a day, and didn’t see a problem with it. The numbers on the scale slowly but surely rose.

Then, one June, I went for my annual checkup. The minute I stepped on that scale, I thought my life was over. I had managed to reach 184 pounds. I was only fifteen years old. I wanted to cry; I wanted to hide under a rock and never come out. I was ashamed—ashamed of what I had become because of a food obsession.

When I got home, I went online to research how to lose weight. The information I found was everything I already knew: eat healthy and in moderation, exercise daily, drink lots of water, etc. But then I spent the entire month of July doing nothing but eating like a pig.

At that time, my family was looking to adopt another dog because our Golden Retriever seemed lonely. I had always wanted a Beagle, and it was like a dream come true when my father announced we would adopt one! I promised my parents I would take excellent care of the dog. Apart from the daily grooming and feeding, I’d walk her every day. Considering I was a lazy child, this was a big commitment. But I was willing to do anything to not let my parents down and give my new puppy a chance to be healthy.

We adopted Bella at the end of July. At her first vet visit a few days later, the vet told me that I should take Bella out every day to get exercise because Beagles are known for obesity. That scared me! It would break my heart to see her get fat, and to know that I had failed in my job. I recommitted to my promise of walking Bella and our Golden Retriever, Marley, every day, no matter the weather. The only exceptions were if I was extremely busy or sick. (Those days didn’t happen too often.)

I walked Bella and Marley for an hour every day, but I still kept my excessive eating habits. In September, I had another doctor’s appointment. This was for my “thyroid gland” problem; I had to visit this doctor every three months. When I hopped on the scale, the doctor announced I had lost half a pound since June. It was an improvement, but not much. I wanted to give up, but then I thought about Bella and how fat she would get if I just quit. So I continued walking the dogs every day, just like I promised, even through the cold fall and winter. But I was still addicted to food.

Another three months later, the doctor announced I had lost two and a half pounds. I was shocked, in a good way. I felt like things were starting to work. I kept walking the dogs every day, and I kept overeating.

Until a Friday night in early February. It was around 8:30 p.m. and I was stuffing my face with cheese and crackers while I surfed the Web. Then, all of a sudden, I heard a voice in my head. “Why are you still eating? Do you want to be fat for the rest of your life? What is so great about eating? All it’s doing is ruining you; it’s making you feel bad.” The voice was right—what was I doing? Stuffing my face all the time was doing me no good. I got up and dumped my snack in the garbage. From that evening on, I made another promise to myself: I would eat three healthy meals a day and drink more water.

The first few days, even the first few weeks, were really tough. I constantly felt hungry. But all through February, I continued my new eating habits and walking my dogs every day. At my next three-month appointment, I was surprised to see I had lost ten pounds! Losing weight started to become fun. All I had to do was walk my dogs every day, eat three healthy meals and drink lots of water. I slowly started adding sit-ups, squats and weight lifting to my daily walking routine.

At my June appointment, I knew the scale would show that I’d started a new, healthy life. In three months, I had managed to lose nineteen more pounds! The doctor didn’t believe it; he thought the scale was broken and he kept flipping through my records. He asked me to step back on the scale—still nineteen pounds lighter. In one year, I lost thirty-six pounds and reach an ideal weight goal of 148 pounds.

I never thought I’d be able to lose weight. I truly believe that Bella saved my life. We’ve had dogs my whole life, and I never walked them. But the moment we got Bella, I made a promise. And that got me up and motivated. If we had never adopted Bella, I’d probably weigh over 200 pounds now.

Because of Bella, I was able to listen to that voice inside my head. Because of Bella and my weight loss, I had more energy and motivation to do things. My school grades improved so much that I was on the honor roll two years in a row. I taught myself two instruments and I’m trying learning a new language. Because of Bella, I have become a happier and healthier person. She saved my life and I couldn’t be any more grateful. I guess good things really do come in small packages.

~Sarah-Elizabeth Viman

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