How will I avoid holiday weight gain when my exercise machine is broken?

I didn’t realize how heavily I rely on my exercise machine until it broke. When it broke I thought it was a matter of getting it fixed quickly and I’d barely miss a beat. It didn’t work out like that.

I took the machine to get repaired. The technician gave me bad news.

“6-years-old. Out of warranty. Could be expensive to fix if I’m lucky. If I’m not lucky, it may not be repairable. It’s going to take 4-6 weeks to even find out.”

And then there was more bad news that further reduced my own physical activity.

“You’re going to have to monitor it very closely during those 4 weeks.”

Now I bet you’re wondering what kind of machine needs monitoring? It’s a living machine. It’s a 6-year old miniature schnauzer, my little buddy named Chico!

Screen Shot 2015-12-22 at 7.19.22 AM

Thursday night he gave a yelp in the middle of the night. I thought the cat surprised him. In the morning he wasn’t quite as eager to go for our morning walk. By mid-morning on Friday he was clearly lame looking like he hurt a hind leg. As the morning progressed he started showing increasing, crippling pain and it looked more like it was his back that hurt, not a hind leg.

That’s when I “took him into the shop,” AKA Ocean State Emergency Veterinary Specialists. During a brief triage inspection I was advised he may have Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD).

Once in the examining room, the doctor confirmed the suspicion. Now it’s a matter or keeping him quiet for 4 weeks and hoping he can slowly work back up to his former activity level. There is also some question of what and why he has this problem and an uncertain future for him.

We are 5 days into this. He’s on pain medication. He feels pretty good but not great. He feels good enough to wonder why he’s got to be locked up in a crate. He feels good enough to bark and whine and carry on if he’s in a crate and I’m in another part of the house. He wants to get out, but it he can’t do that, then he wants me sitting here on the other side of his temporary enclosure.

Screen Shot 2015-12-22 at 7.24.42 AM

That means I have already cut back my steps by 3 miles! We normally do  1 1/2 every morning and night. Then there is my reluctance to leave him fretting so I have been sitting and watching him (and a lot of TV.) Normally this warm weather would have us in the boat rowing over the sandbar where we both would have a good time running and playing. Rowing is an excellent muscle building exercise and here is what’s really amazing – I love to row in a real boat to a real island! It’s the one place I can safely let him off his leash because it’s an island. He can run as much as he wants but he can’t run into anything potentially dangerous like a road.

Screen Shot 2015-12-22 at 7.21.47 AM

So, here I sit beside my busted machine. I am not getting much exercise, but plenty of stress and worry. I probably don’t need to tell you what stress and worry can do to me. Chico’s IVDD is a double-edged sword to my weight and fitness goals. While he gets repaired, I lose my favored method of activity and must fight the overwhelming urge to eat (sugary fatty foods!)

I have prided myself on avoiding the "holiday weight gain" but this year I may not be so proud!

I have prided myself on avoiding the “holiday weight gain” but this year I may not be so proud!


What a time to be reduced to limited physical activity and consumed with worry when you're an emotional eater. There's no shortage of treats available this close to Christmas!

What a time to be reduced to limited physical activity and consumed with worry when you’re an emotional eater. There’s no shortage of treats available this close to Christmas!

I’ll follow the vet’s instructions. I’ll keep this doggy confined to a crate. I’ll continue carry him in and out of the house to do his business for 4 weeks and give him no other exercise than those brief potty visits. I’ll hope that when 4 weeks is over my exercise machine and I will slowly get back into our routine.


Jackie Conn

About Jackie Conn

Jackie Conn is married and has four grown daughters and four grandchildren. She is a Weight Watchers success story. She's a weight loss expert with 25 years of experience guiding women and men to their weight-related goals. Her articles on weight management have been published in health, family and women's magazines. She has been a regular guest on Channel 5 WABI news, FOX network morning program Good Day Maine and 207 on WCSH.