I’ve been overweight for a long time. I wasn’t always overweight. I used to be underweight. When I was a teenager I had a skinny, little 103-pound body that I would hide under baggy T-shirts and wide-leg jeans because I was a tomboy.
Now I’m over 30, I’m substantially larger and I hate it.
Since being married, I’ve tried, and failed, to lose weight. I’ve never been dedicated enough to exercise regularly or eat properly.
While I still have difficulty eating properly (I just effing love food. I’m sorry.), during the past year, I’ve been much better at exercising regularly.
I haven’t changed. I’m still lazy as hell. But, I have a dog now. My dog needs exercise. When she doesn’t get it, she tears my house apart.
Bailey is a Lab mix. Read: HIGH ENERGY. I got her when my neighbor’s dog had an unplanned litter of puppies. She was sort of an impulse adoption. Not that we didn’t think long and hard about taking her, but we weren’t planning on getting a dog when we rescued her.
We started walking together in April 2013. Bailey was about four months old. We only walked a mile, maybe two, depending on the day. Most of our walks were spent teaching Bailey how to walk properly on a leash.
In October 2013, we started jogging. I dusted off my Couch to 5k app and we started doing our interval training. We never made it through the full program. We always had to stop for one reason or another. I sprained an ankle, Bailey got spayed, the weather got too cold.
Then on Feb. 18, 2014, we jogged an entire mile without stopping.
Now, I get it. One mile? Not very impressive. At that moment, I could count on one hand how many times I’ve jogged an entire mile.
I. Can’t. Run.
I never could run. Even as a skinny, bitty teenager I couldn’t run. EVER. So not only did I jog an entire mile, I did it outside in my hilly neighborhood which is exponentially more difficult than doing it on a treadmill. This mile was like my Everest.
We kept at it, slowly increasing our distance. On May 16, I started and just didn’t stop. I was angry I had gained three pounds that week. Before I knew it, I had jogged three miles. One mile for every frustrating pound I gained. I was in absolute shock. And then in pain.
Knowing making such a large jump in distance was the best way for me to injure myself, I dialed back and slowly worked my way back up a quarter-mile at a time.
In the meantime, I signed up for a 5k to benefit a rescue organization for cats. I figured it was the perfect motivation to keep at it.
Just shy of a month before the race, Bailey and I hit three miles again.
We jog together three times a week, hitting the pavement by 6am when it’s still dark. On the alternate days, we walk. I joined the gym at the state college where C works and takes classes so I started weight training and going back to yoga.
To say that my dog is saving my life seems like an exaggeration, but when you really think about it, it’s not. Without her, I wouldn’t wake up at 5:15am five days a week to workout before work. I wouldn’t be able to jog three miles, something that has always seemed downright impossible for me. I would likely still living an incredibly unhealthy lifestyle that would no doubt end in some kind of weight-related condition like diabetes.
So in October, we’ll run our first 5k together. For her, it’ll just be another jog, just with a lot more people. For me, it’s reaching a goal that seemed so unattainable, it wasn’t even really a goal. It’s doing something I never thought I’d ever do. It’s the start of being a better me.
And it’s all because of her. Bailey, my dog.
Head on over to Kiss My Tulle for some tips for jogging with your dog.