Barbie Perkins-Cooper, Author

Living Life in the Country As A Writer, Photographer

Dearest Readers:

Yes, I know…I’ve been quiet. As you recall, the new year started with a loss…not at Weight Watchers, but a loss of a loved one — our precious little Maltese, Shasta Daisy Shampagne. She was at least ten-years-old, probably closer to twelve. For approximately six months we watched her slowly fading away from us. At first, she stopped jumping across the gate. Then, she started to sleep — a lot…almost all day long. Occasionally she wouldn’t eat. During her wellness check at the vets, we discovered our suspicions — she was now completely blind, and that is why when she was awake, she raised her head high, to look at the bright lights she could see from the skyline of our windows. She could see a bright image, but nothing more. Each time I reached to pick her up, I would rub her and speak to her softly. She responded by struggling to jump into my arms. When she needed something, she did not whine or bark. She paced herself and I fully believe she knew exactly how many steps she needed to take to find the water bowl. She stopped playing with her favorite toys. When the seizures began, we strove to accept Shasta was fading away. I’ve never been a believer in ‘putting a dog down’ although we have let two go in this way. Their quality of life was gone, and so we made the decision to let them go peacefully, with us by their sides. With Shasta, it was different. Every time we considered making that dreadful call, she bounced back. Just like the Energizer Bunny. Twenty-four hours after a seizure, she worked hard to show us she could still walk and move. She could take care of her body functions. She could still drink and eat. Little Miss Independent Shasta wasn’t ready to go. Unfortunately, on January 4, early in the morning, I went to pick her up to let her go outside with me. She did not respond. She went on her terms. She did not want us to make that dreadful call. And so, we started the new year with the loss of our precious Shasta.

Life has taught me the fact of life that after death, we must continue. The question is how? How do we learn to live without those we loved? It is a known fact that we must continue to move. Demands in life force us to pick ourselves up. To take baby steps. To move. Simply — just to move. After losing Shasta, I wanted to just shut the world away, but the phone rang, door bells screamed, and I realized, I had to move on. I forced myself to get up and to return to my life. On January 9, I returned to Weight Watchers, anticipating more dismay, much to my surprise, I lost 1.8 pounds. This week, I lost .02 pounds. Baby steps. Now, I’ve discovered for me, it takes baby steps to continue my weight loss.

I do have a confession. Years ago, my husband bought a treadmill — one for him to use after heart surgery. Funny. He’s only used it twice. He used the excuse it was boring. He needed a TV so he could watch it while on the treadmill. We moved a TV into the room. The treadmill sat, all by itself, still awaiting my husband to move it! For years, I used it — to air dry clothes. After joining Weight Watchers, I stared at that treadmill. By now, it was dusty and needed attention, so I hopped on. ‘If only I can do ten minutes,’ I said. The treadmill is a 1998 version. The timer would not work, so I counted it down, while watching the clock and gasping for air. I’m asthmatic. Exercise is a bit difficult for me, but I was determined to do just ten minutes. At first, after five minutes, I had to jump off while gasping for air. That treadmill was getting the best of me!

Those of you who really know me understand how stubborn, independent and determined I can be when something intimidates me. I continued my pursuit. After joining Weight Watchers, I learned we must move to be successful with weight loss. I walked. I exercised, occasionally, but that silly treadmill all but stared and laughed at me. It was beating me, and I was just a bit annoyed.

Last year, I decided to set a goal of ten minutes again on the treadmill; after all, I had lost about 30 pounds. Just how hard can a treadmill be? My newest mini-schnauzer, Hankster the Prankster showed me. One morning while letting the treadmill down, he hopped onboard, as if to say, “Ha…Ha…I can do the treadmill and you cannot!” I turned it on just to see what he would do. That silly four-legged friend moved…and moved…and moved. Then, he barked, looked up at me as if to say, “Make it go faster,” so I did. Now he was running! A four-legged friend who knew much about me was using the treadmill. His little legs moved quickly and he barked a happy bark. I wanted to spank him!

Baby steps! The next day, I gave myself five minutes on the treadmill…a few days later, ten, and this time, I did not stop! Ten minutes was an achievement and I was proud of myself. I am happy to say, now, I can move on a treadmill for 50 minutes — non-stop! Then, I do an upper body workout. All to the credit of Weight Watchers!

This year, there is another new program with Weight Watchers — Simple Start, a two-week jump-start program that is easy to do. At the meeting this morning, many of the members shared weight losses and how easy the program is. As for me, I suppose you could say, I lose ever so slowly, but what I have learned this time with Weight Watchers is something simple. Weight Watchers works. No longer is it a difficult program. No longer is there a beige curtain with an intimidating scale staring in my face. The weigh ins are ‘confidential.’ Never do we share how much we weighed when we joined, and now, even a small weight loss of .02 is still — A LOSS!

Perhaps I owe the credit to Hankster the Prankster for teaching me that IF a tiny dog could work out on a treadmill, then I could too! There are days when he still wants to show me up on the treadmill, after a few minutes he hops off, as if to say, “OK…it’s your turn now!”

Thank you, Hanks. Yes, it is a new year. A new year to remember little Miss Shasta, and I still hear her little bark sometimes. When I walk by her bed, I still speak to her. As the year continues to move forward, I must focus on the blessings I have, including my precious four-legged children, and I must continue to move on to accomplish my weight loss.

Thank you, Weight Watchers. Thank you Hanks for teaching me I can do the treadmill, and Little Miss Shasta, thank you for the spunk and determination you taught me. I suppose people who do not have animals cannot understand how much they nourish, teach and inspire our life. These four-legged friends are there for us when we need a hug. They will lick away your tears, and melt your heart. I am blessed to have them in my life, and I am blessed to have a new inspiration and determined with Weight Watchers. It is a new year with Simple Start. A new year to count my blessings. Now, if I could only convince Hank I must use the treadmill before he does! Baby Steps!

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