Happy New Year, friends! I hope 2020 is treating you well so far!
Every year, the flood of “new year, new me” posts slam into our inboxes and social feeds, and every year I think… bah humbug. No one needs to become a whole new person. Not one of us! New habits? Sure. New goals? Absolutely. But a whole new you? Nope, nope, nope.
My favorite saying:
“Each of you is perfect the way you are … and you can use a little improvement.” — Shunryu Suzuki
So, let’s talk goals / intentions / resolutions: Did you know “exercise more” is the single-most common New Year’s resolution? Yet, according to a survey conducted by Bodybuilding.com, 73 percent give up on their fitness goals before achieving them.
I think those people must not have dogs. OK, clearly, statistically speaking most of them probably DO have dogs… but I bet most of those people don’t think of their fitness goals in terms of their dog’s health and happiness, as well as building a solid relationship with their pup.
If you’re someone who wants to set new fitness goals but haven’t followed through in the past or aren’t sure where to start, I’m here to help you reframe your goal! Why? Well, I read something recently about how people quitting smoking were more likely to succeed IF they thought about it in terms of their pet’s health! Focusing on how their smoking affected their pets, helped smokers kick the habit, so why can’t that work for fitness?!?
Lace up those sneakers and let’s dig in!
EXERCISE WITH YOUR DOG!
I don’t know many people who genuinely love exercise. But it’s so good for your body to MOVE! Same goes for your dog. Motivation is tough, though. Instead of forcing yourself to slog through a workout at the gym, do something with your dog! This isn’t a how-to-get-started post but rather a quick overview to get you started. I do share additional resources for each, but if you’d like me to dive into a particular topic in detail, let me know in the comments.
Here are three workout ideas to kick it into gear with your pup:
Duh, right? But lots of us–myself included–have a yard or park we rely on and we sometimes use that advantage to skip the daily walk. And, honestly, if you have a reactive dog like Coop, it feels easier many days to skip the walk. Unfortunately, that plan backfires because neither of us are getting enough exercise–and exercise helps him stay calmer–and we’re losing opportunities to work on positive behaviors together.
Here’s the thing: Walking delivers health benefits to you and your pup, including reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, stronger bones, improved balance (so important as we and our pups age), and reducing fat… plus lots more.
Commit to your dog to take him or her on a daily walk. I have some stick-to-it tricks at the end of this post, but speaking it out loud to your pup is the best first step!
BTW: Hiking is just walking in the woods! If you get bored of your regular walks or want to spice it up, hit the trails instead. Here are some pet-safe hiking tips for summer and for winter.
I’ll be the first to admit: Running is hard. It took me two times through the C25k app before I could actually run a full 5k. As long as neither you nor your dog have an injury or physical limitation that would prevent a jogging habit, a great place to start is with the C25k. It moves at an incremental pace, taking you from mostly walking to mostly running gradually enough that it’s never so hard you want to quit.
This year, my running fell by the wayside because of injuries and appendicitis, SO if you and your dog are starting a jogging routine in 2020, I’ll be right there slogging along beside you! I’m starting with the C210K app, which is the next step up from the 5k trainer. For a little inspiration, here’s some advice on running with a dog that pulls (ahem, Cooper) or if you want to combine a love of the outdoors with running, here are some tips on starting to trail run with your dog.
It took me a while to understand this because I always thought of fitness and exercise as either going to the gym or going for a walk or run. But, the reality is, playing can be as good for your and your dog’s fitness as anything else! And it’s often way more fun!
In fact, that was the turning point for me: having fun! Whether it’s taking an agility course or simply running some simple obstacles in your backyard, or maybe you like to play tag or tug or swim or play on the beach, you’ll get fit while having a blast. Plus, playing together every day is a vital part of your bond with your pup. If you’re not into feeling like exercise is a real workout… play is for you and your pup!
HOW TO START A WORKOUT ROUTINE WITH YOUR DOG
Let’s say you want to commit to a daily walk every day this year. Or you’re going to lace up and hit the trails or set up a backyard agility course to run together. Great!!!
Where do you start?
First things first, know that making the commitment to yourself and to your dog is the first big hurdle. Once you put it out there, you’re well on your way!
Then, I suggest downloading some kind of habit tracker (like this super cute pup one!!) to help keep yourself motivated. Hang it somewhere you’ll see each day so that you stay focused on your goal.
Finally, start small. I think one way people lose momentum is by setting their sights too high and feeling like a failure too fast. Instead, commit to a 10-minute walk each day or starting the C25k app. Set a timer for 5 minutes of running around your yard. Whatever you choose, start small but stick to it each day!
Walk every day. Jog together. Practice agility. Anything to get you both up and moving!
Do you have any fitness goals for the new year? How can you incorporate your pup? I’d love to hear what you’re planning so I can cheer you on!