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Lessons learned from Obie the obese dachshund’s weight-loss journey that you can apply to your own efforts.

When it comes to losing weight, there are a surprising number of similarities between canine and human efforts. Here are some of the key takeaways from Obie’s successful diet regimen to help your weight loss success.

START WITH A THOROUGH EVALUATION

As a certified veterinary technician with extensive training in nutrition, Obie’s caregiver Nora was uniquely qualified to serve as his healthcare advocate for the development of a weight-loss plan that addressed not only his specific nutritional needs—a high-protein-to-calorie ratio, low-fat diet that helped him maintain calorie-burning mean muscle mass—but also physical activity appropriate to his size and limited mobility.

Talk with your endocrinologist or other healthcare provider about controlling your weight before you decide on a weight-loss program. It's important for you to start the discussion in order to get all of the information you need. A diet that worked for a friend or co-worker might not be ideal for you based on your medical background, weight-loss goals, lifestyle and food preferences. The conversation will help you to identify your specific needs as a dieter and help you to choose the best weight-loss plan for you.

SET GOALS

It helps to develop an action plan with measurable and attainable goals to keep you on track. After Obie’s medical assessment, Nora established a safe weight-loss goal of one to two percent of his body weight per week and, based on his daily metabolic needs, estimated that he should ingest 500 calories per day to achieve that goal. She only had to adjust his caloric intake twice over the course of a year.

You can make a blueprint for success by breaking your goal down into parts. Say you've given yourself six months to lose 30 pounds. Make a chart of the timeline and build it up, week by week, with details of food shopping strategies, meal plans, exercise tips and so forth—anything that helps make your goal concrete.

Keep in mind that setbacks can be part of the journey. Identifying potential roadblocks to success—a holiday meal or work reception, for example—and developing specific strategies to deal with the situation can help you stay on course or get back on course.

BUILD A SUPPORTIVE ENVIRONMENT

Although Obie initially resisted the food he was being presented, Nora readily acknowledges that having two other dogs in the household who were excited about meal time and enthusiastically welcomed the apples, carrots and other pet-safe vegetables she offered as snacks helped Obie adjust quickly to his new diet. And given Hunter and Noggin’s active lifestyle, they also served as ideal exercise buddies for Obie once his weight loss allowed him to become more active.

Likewise, friends, family and co-workers can play a major role in the success of your weight-loss efforts. Stop and think about what you really want in terms of support, then communicate specific ways your loved ones could get on board, whether that means asking your mom NOT to prepare you your favorite lasagna or inviting your kids or co-workers to join you in physical activities. If need be, take a different approach: join a weight-loss group or even make new friends who share your goals.

ABOVE ALL, BE REASONABLE

Although Obie’s weight loss was undeniably dramatic and occurred over a relatively brief period of time, his was a well-thought-out approach that was very specific and unique to Obie alone.

And while it certainly can be more psychologically satisfying to lose weight rapidly, studies have shown time and again that people who lose extreme numbers of pounds without first changing their habits and lifestyles end up gaining the weight back quickly.

Quite simply, the answer to long-term weight control for most people is learning to burn the same number of calories as you consume, allowing you to stay at your goal weight for good.