Everything I know about exercise I learned from my dog

 

I’ve been thinking lately about the idea that our bodies represent our primitive animal side.  After all, we share over 98% of our genetics with chimpanzees.  I studied my dog because I couldn’t find any stats on the activity level of the wild chimp but I’m pretty sure chimps don’t  go to cardio classes, run marathons or bike cross country yet they enjoy perfect physical fitness. They have strong toned bodies and they don’t get fat.

Don’t get me wrong,  their’s nothing wrong with excess exercise if your body has been conditioned for it and you know what you’re doing.  My point is, maybe those of us who don’t want to sweat it out at the gym for 7 hours a week can still be fit without killing or bodies.   If you’re a couch potato who;s decided to get fit, maybe it’s better to ease into exercise rather than join a cardio class and jump up and down for an hour until you can’t breath all the while listening to the instructor tell you to work harder.   I just can’t help but wonder how many more people would get out there and move if they knew that  as little as 10 minutes a day of the right kind of exercise could make a huge difference in their energy level, their metabolism and their level of joy.

Leo, my  German Shepherd Greyhound mix hasn’t gained a pound in years.  Like most dogs he lays around for about 22 hours a day, yet he has a perfectly toned fit body.  What’s the deal?

I usually make sure his bowl doesn’t go empty so he can eat as much as he wants when he wants.  He eats about 2 cups of kibbles a day plus he gets a half pound of raw meat specially prepared for dogs. So he’s not exactly starved for food.  What’s his secret? What’s he doing right?

  • He doesn’t work out, he plays.

Leo won’t chase the ball because it’s not fun for him.  He will chase a squirrel or a cat.  I’ve got the skinned knees to prove it.  The point is, he just won’t exercise unless it’s fun.

Are you taking exercise too seriously?  Exercise should both relax and exhilarate you, NOT stress you out.  If working out isn’t fun,  will you keep it up?  I did yoga every day for years and loved it, then I got bored and instead of finding a new way to challenge myself I quit.  Yes starting a new fitness routine can be frustrating, nobody likes to be BAD at something BUT watching yourself improve can be a real ego boost.

What can you do to make moving your body more about play?  When exercising is fun, you’ll want to keep doing it.

  • He runs as fast as he can but just for a few seconds.

Of the two hours a day that Leo is actually on his feet he spends about 2 minutes a day doing cardio.

There’s a big controversy going on right now about between interval training and steady state cardio.  Some say we’re supposed to exercise for an hour straight, keep our heart rates up for 20 minutes or it doesn’t count.  Others say high intensity interval training is easier and more effective.  You can find studies to argue for either side.

I did  45 minutes of steady cardio every day for 3 months before I saw results.  I also woke up every day so sore I could barely move.  Now, for the past two weeks I’ve been running for a few seconds with my dog, followed by walking till I catch my breath then running again.  I run for about a minute a day and I feel amazing, plus my appetite has gone way down.

  • He play-fights.

 

  • He stays limber.
  • He stays hydrated.
  • He doesn’t work out, he plays.
  • He stops when he’s had enough.

 

 
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Who would you be if you loved your body?

Who would you be if you loved your body? 

What if loving your body had nothing to do with how you look in the mirror?

What if loving your body RIGHT NOW inspired you to take better care of it?

I’m talking about unconditional love, what mothers feel for their children.  I’m taking about loving your body even when it gains weight and it’s not a holiday.  Yeah, I know you’re scared if you just accept the way you look right now you’ll give up.  You’ll eat nothing but junk food and never exercise again.  I mean, that self criticism really motivates and inspires you right?  You’d never got off your ass if you stopped hating your reflection right?  Well how’s that working for you so far?

I too have spent years berating my reflection only to console myself with sweets.  I’ve weighed 114 lbs. and 213 lbs.  I’ve been a junk food junkie and a raw food vegan.  I’ve been a binge eater and a “normal” eater.  I’ve taught Yoga, Zumba, nutrition, acupuncture, herbal medicine, mind body healing, etc.  I’ve hated my skinny body and loved my fat body.  I’ve got a long list of chronic ailments I’ve overcome including eczema and migraines.  I know what it means to feel ashamed to be seen in public.  If I don’t have the answers you seek, hopefully I have the questions to allow you to unlock your own answers.