Have you ever brought my dog for a walk?

Anyone who follows me on Twitter (@quinlivan) will be familar with this little guy, but just in case you don't know him... This is my dog CJ:


He is a spoiled little brat (a bit like me). He is also a little cutie (*waits for someone to say "just like you John"*). If you have ever had the misfortune/joy of being out with CJ for a walk or seeing us pass by, you will know he is a tad uncontrollable. Pulling you in one direction, stopping for a sniff or a pee, being distracted by another dog passing across the road. You get the idea... 


Anyway, while I was out walking the dog this morning I came to the realisation that myself and my dog are more alike than even I am comfortable admitting. My weight for the last few weeks has been all over the place... kind of like CJ's trajectory when out for a walk.

The past few weeks have been really tough as things just haven't felt like they have been going in the right direction. This feeling has been further componded by the resulting value displayed on the scales at weigh in. I've been up down up up down up... and while each of these have been relatively small in the grand scheme of things, they have repeatedly bashed my level of self-belief and confidence. If I step back and look at the timeline of the past few weeks, the following happened (in order):
  1. I was 1lb off goal (Total Loss: 99lbs)
  2. I gave up cigarettes as I figured not being at goal would keep me even more focused on reaching it
  3. I went up 1lb, 1lb and 1lb over the next three weeks
  4. I went down 3lbs (back to 1lb off goal)
  5. I went up 2lbs and 2lbs the next two weeks (Total Loss: 95lbs)
I have felt like the past few weeks have been a bit like this:

I have attributed my weight gain to being off the cigs - Five weeks today by the way! The "problem" as such with being off the cigarettes is that I find myself wandering out into the kitchen and staring into an open fridge/cupboard, which results in me picking. This is something I never had a problem with before.

I have also attributed my weight gain to the fact I am training for a marathon, which is in less than six weeks time, so I have found myself hungrier than before. I am running more so therefore I must need to eat more? For example, when I finished the Half Marathon last weekend I had a bottle of coke & chocolate bar to 're-fuel', then I had a big lunch, then I had a full pizza for dinner.

Last night as I left Weight Watchers 5lbs away from goal, my self-confidence bruised, I was mad at myself. I was mad that I was moving in the wrong direction. I was mad that this was happening. I was mad that everything happening was out of my control. 

When I got home from Weight Watchers, I went for a run, had dinner and then went to bed early (because I was feeling sorry for myself). My alarm went off at 7am this morning and off I went for my walk with CJ as per usual. With a clear, fresh head and a rested body, I walked up the Maree Road towards Renville Park dragging the dog along at 7.30am this morning when I had the following epiphany:

I have taken my eyes off the ball (my goal) due to the following flawed logic: 1 - I am training for a marathon so I don't really need to point/track as I am doing more than enough exercise to justify me tracking everything. 2 - I deserve a few treats because I am not smoking.

So instead of feeling like my goal has thrown me off track:

I realised that I can control of the ball:

As much as I am like my dog... I am not a dog. I should not reward my "good behaviour" with food. Looking at a possible cause for my gain, I realised what exactly I have been doing. Every time I go to the kitchen press, I am rewarding myself for not smoking with a biscuit or a slice of cake or something. Every time I go to the shop, I buy crisps or a chupa chup. Now while each of these individually are not bad, collectively they are.

One day last week I counted 2 chocolate digestives (5pps) at 11am coffee break, crisps at 3.30pm (3pps), a Chupa Chup (1pp) on the way home from work and maybe a 2 finger kit-kat after dinner (3pps) mixed in with 3 cups of tea/coffee (6pps) throughout the day = 18 propoints A DAY, thrown away without much consideration. 

This is something I can control. 

Taking above for example, 18 propoints is half my daily allowance! HALF. 18 propoints can be earned by 90 minutes of high activity! Like a Pavlov's dog reacting to the sound of the bell, I have just changed the stimulus/behaviour cycle. The pattern above shows that basically food has replaced the 'hit' I used to get from smoking. I need to find a reward that aligns itself with ALL of my GOALS - not just one that aligns itself with one of my goals (smoking).

My Goals (collectively) are:
  1. Be Fit & Healthy
  2. Reach Goal Weight
  3. Not Smoke
Another important factor to consider which I have learned time after time since starting this journey over a year ago is:

Another factor I don't place enough emphasis on is:

So while I may be LIKE my dog in many ways, I am also the one controlling the lead. A little bit of self-reigning in when I go astray along the path is needed, but I have gotten myself this far. I need to stop being so hard on myself and with myself. Being mad at myself for enjoying something (like a slice of cake etc) is counterproductive. Likewise, don't eat all the cake as a reward for something unrelated. I will have my cake, eat a slice, then walk it off.

Surely getting to goal has to be easier than bringing CJ for a walk! (If anyone disagrees, I'd like to invite you to bring CJ with them the next time they are heading out the door).

Similar but different...


  1. Love this post!!This sounds exactly like I was in the run up to me hitting goal. I played around with the same 5lbs for nearly 3 months! Its so easy to take your eyes off the ball when you are pretty much there, the urgency isn't as real as it was at the start or something! Good luck with the last few pounds x

    1. I think my biggest issue is the fact its not happening as fast as I want it to (reaching goal that is) but I am overlooking everything else that is going on around me like not smoking and marathon training. I too love your blog posts as I feel I can completely identify with what you are saying as we are in the same place so to speak. Best of luck with your 6 week challenge. I'm interested to see how you get on :)

  2. Know the feeling of walking a dog with a mind of its own but dont we just love the little bundles of fur!!!!! I agree it is so easy to take your eye off the ball, I think it is all part of adjusting our habits. At least you have now acknowledge it and can now move on. Good luck with the cigs and good luck with the last few pounds :)

    1. Thanks so much! I'll get there I know I will. Just felt a bit deflated the past few weeks but I've dealt with it and moving past it (hopefully!)


  3. It also strikes me that you have three main goals which are not completely congruent at the moment. Marathon, weight loss and smoking cessation. The first and last of these will increase your weight. The first in particular will be creating muscle which is actually heavier than fat. Have you thought about prioritising those three and accepting that lower priorities may have to wait a while longer?

    1. Interesting point Sean! I hadn't thought about it that way. I also think (in my head) that giving up smoking doesn't necessarily mean weight gain. I think people assume it means they will but I haven't seen any proof that it means you definitely will.

      I do agree with the Marathon comment. In my head, I have moved from a 'Think Skinny' frame of mind to a 'Think Healthy' place - and in my head running a marathon is way better for me than being at goal weight. It's just frustrating considering I was 1 lb off goal and now seem to be drifting in the opposite direction.

      I do think however this (getting to goal) is within my reach and is totally possible. Looking at Matt Fitzgeralds book on 'Racing Weight', I have a good bit more weight to lose *shakes fist at Matt* so I assumed my goal which is nowhere near Matt's is achievable.

    2. I must admit that I thought that nicotine was an appetite suppresant. Probably as much because everyone I know who has given up smoking has put on weigh. A marathon is an incredible achievement but it does put your body through its paces. I have a lot of respect for anyone who trains properly for one as you are doing.

  4. You've put a serious amount of pressure on yourself to complete everything at the same time - smoking and weight are two things that just clash completely, I don't know one single person who stopped and didn't put on a pound. Your body is getting used to all these changes and it's natural that at some point it was just going to say - "here now, you've taken the cigs away, give us a lolly to make up for it!" Rewards for me have always been food related, even from childhood, and it's so hard to get out of that frame of mind. I have no doubt that you can get control over the situation, just keep the end in sight, and don't put a timeframe on it - because there's the danger of self-rewarding for getting to goal and then the circle continues again. I'll swap you CJ for Shadow, who can not walk two inches without deciding he wants to be on the left of me. No, the right. No, the left. No, the right. OOH GRASS!

    1. Shadow sounds exactly like CJ! Gas... I hear exactly what you are saying about the cigarettes and the weight. I just wish I was the exception to the rule y'know :)

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