Killing a Proverbial Possum

Last night, when my husband Larry took the dogs outside for their last romp of the day, big, hairy, passive, lovable Cooper – our flat-coated retriever – brought along his little stuffed hedgehog squeaky toy. Larry was feeling better (he caught the bug shortly after me) so he was happy to throw a few rounds with his favorite dog.

There are no lights that shine in our backyard at night. The back porch light only goes as far as the edge of the deck. Larry threw the hedgehog into the dark backyard and our black dog went chasing after it. A few seconds later, Cooper returned with what Larry thought was the hedgehog, and they began to play tug of war, as they always do.

Before long, Larry thought, Gee, this is much bigger than his hedgehog. Warmer, too. That’s when he realized Cooper had brought him a dead possum! Not only a dead possum, but a possum Cooper killed with one bite to the neck, all within a few moments in the dark. Cooper made no sounds and the possum probably didn’t know what hit him.

Larry wrapped the body in bags and put it out with the garbage and tried to wash the ooginess off his hands when he came in. But all the while he kept shaking his head and saying, “I can’t believe Cooper did that!”

We nicknamed Cooper “Killer.”

I don’t believe Cooper killed the possum for the thrill of killing something. Perhaps he was following some latent instinct, but my guess is he confused the possum for his hedgehog and grabbed it before he realized it wasn’t his squeaky toy. Either way, Cooper did something he’d never done before. And unlike the other two dogs who got spooked and ran away into the house, Cooper didn’t drop the possum and run away. He brought it to Larry in hopes they’d continue their game.

In hopes that I’m not stretching the analogy too far, successful weight loss is like accidentally killing a possum. You run into the darkness to retrieve what you think is your goal only to come back with something unexpected.

I am a product of New Year’s Resolution 2005: sh*t or get off the pot. I decided Jan. 1 I was going to lose weight and weigh 190 pounds again. 190 was a weight that felt familiar, a weight that made me feel less insecure and more emotionally available to the outside world. To go any lower would be futile since all the other times I’d gone below 190 before I just bounced right back up in a matter of months, so it was (emotionally) safer to settle for 190.

But a funny thing happened when I ran into that weight-loss darkness (for the gabillionth time). Somewhere between 300 and 190, I learned to *gasp* trust myself and trust in time. I developed *double gasp* instincts. I *in a near faint* began to love the person losing weight and committed to doing everything I could to protect her.

I surprised a lot of people when I kept going down the scale, past the familiar 190 pounds when people started saying, “You’re not going to lose any MORE are you?” And I’ve surprised a lot of people now that two years later, I haven’t gained anything back. I surprised a lot of people, namely me, when I killed that proverbial possum of a goal and came back with so much more. Something more than settling for the same old familiar fears and insecurities.

If you’re making a resolution to lose weight in 2009, be bold, be fearless. Run into that darkness and find what you’re really made of. Resolve NOT to revert back to old thinking and old strategies. Resolve to trust yourself. Resolve to trust time. (Newsflash: weight loss doesn’t happen overnight. One pound lost in two weeks is one less pound you have to lose the rest of your life. Or, to put it another way, you can’t lose ten., twenty or a hundred pounds unless you lose the first one.)

Resolve to do something you’ve never done before.

22 thoughts on “Killing a Proverbial Possum

  1. I love this post!! I am so linking to this.And you have a flat coat?? Wow, what are the odds? I mean, no one else I know has a flat coat. No, I don’t have one, but one of my dear dear friends does flat coat recuse and has had several so I follow along on her flat coat adventures. If you ever want/need another flat coat, consider rescue! I know just the person who could get a great dog to you πŸ™‚

  2. Wow, Lynn! First, on your dog catching and killing a possum so fast. But an even bigger WOW on the analogy. That is excellent! I will be linking to it too. It is a little along the same lines of what I want to write about today.

  3. This is one of your most inspiring & amazing posts! You rock!As an aside, one of my black Labs did the same thing last fall – but I think she believed she was bringing home some meat for the table – helping out the family budget. She was so proud. And I was so glad she chose a possum & not a skunk. (we had a little chat and she's agreed to let the critters live in peace -> but if it's already dead, she gets to roll in it -> ewwww)

  4. I made that resolution in 2003, lost 140 lbs. I got the comments “you better quit soon, are you crazy…” Bad choices, bad job, bad self image…I’ve gained 40 back. Good news is that isn’t a 3 digit gain so yes there is hope…and I will start with small goal…getting back under 200…then 5 lb. goals after that. I know I have to do it one bite at a time…don’t listen to the news…listen to my body…Thank you Lynn

  5. LynnI’ve lost 50 pounds over three years and just last week had two of my closest friends pull me aside at a party and tell me I “had” to stop losing weight–they were “worried” about me. I’m 5′ 6″ and weigh 143. I started at 193 and picked 155 as a goal. Like you I learned to trust myself and I love the “me” I am now. I want to end up at about 135-138 and I know it’s going to happen this year…your comments really struck a chord for me and I just want to thank you for consistently voicing the things I thinking. Happy New Year!

  6. Lyn, we got our flat-coat at the humane society! The dolts there (and I really mean dolts – the person in charge of the place killed animals left and right. It’s shut down now, but man, what a slaughter house that place was) had no clue Coop was a flat coat. Never called rescue, and our groomer is a flat-coat rescue person who raises flat coats. Ugh. Beanie, what a fun little blog you have! I just subscribed. All my best on getting back to goal this year. Linda B, my other dog, Mathilda is nicknamed Princess Rolls in Sh*t πŸ™‚ She loves anything dead. It’s the beagle in her (she’s a million different varieties. Unfortunately her favorite dead thing is skunk, and believe me, she finds at least one every summer. Thank you so much for your encouraging post on RTR. That meant a lot to me and Barbara. Anonymous, I’m so glad to hear you’re sticking to your guns. GO LOWER if you want to go lower. I honestly think people “fear” for our health mostly because they fear for their own, whether they’re cognizant of that or not. Please let me know how you’re doing. Thanks for your comments. I wrote this while Claire, the little vampire, took a nap. Little bugger bit me today! LOL a 15-month old really has sharp teeth!

  7. Thank you for the post. It was really encouraging for me, and something that I needed to hear. I used to make New Year’s resolutions-of losing weight-every year, but stopped making them a couple years ago b/c I would break them within a week or two. So I didn’t see the point anymore. My mindframe of losing weight has always been “all or nothing,” and it wasn’t the best mentality to have. I want to try again this year, but I know it has to be with a different mindset. Thanks. πŸ™‚

  8. Hey!!! I am Lyn’s friend with the Flat-coat, actually TWO Flat-coats! We have our 4 year old Angel (CH Bear Country’s Wild Angel JH WC OFA Cerf) and our 9 month old puppy Sunny (BlacFriar’s Sunrise at WyndEcho). This was so exciting to read your story about Cooper and the possum!!!Karen in TN

  9. Resolve to do something you’ve never done before. Wow. That’s a tall order in some ways. I think I need to make a list and pick something. (Something to think about over my luxurious 4-day weekend!)Great post!

  10. Lynn, you are my favorite blogger of all time! 2009 is my year to look F-I-N-E! I am resolving this year to be “The” Year to just do it. I’m going to run out into that darknesss and bring back that big old polar bear and be done with it. I wish you a most happy healthy and wonderful New Year!

  11. Lyn, Thank for such an amazing and inspiring post! I have been on and off the computer all day today trying to figure out what kind of diet to try–AGAIN! I have been researching weight loss surgery, but I know in my heart that is not that answer. Have a wonderful 2009!

  12. First, a big thanks to Lyn ( for linking your post to her blog. Second, Wow! Because my maiden name is Cooper, I couldn’t help but be interested in the adventure, but more than that, I got exactly what you’re saying. If you don’t mind, I’m going to stick around and read some of your other posts.You take care and Happy New Year!

  13. I love this post! I have actually just started my own weight loss blog today! It’s got me kicking around for other inspiring bloggers about weight loss… I would love to hear what you think so far of mine! I started out @ 289 and am currently down to 261.5 in a matter of a couple of months.. — my final goal is really just to be under 200– but ideally would like to hit 175 or 180— it just seems like such an immense task though! Thank you so much for your inspiring blog– I’m going to link it up with mine and follow yours…

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