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The long road to physical fitness

The long road to physical fitness

Everyone knows that regular exercise is great for your heart, your bones and weight control. You would think that something so wonderful would be an integral part of every thinking person’s regime. But. For some reason there are more people who say that they should exercise more than there are those who say they exercise enough. Like dieting, exercise is one of those things we all want to do because we think it is good for us.  Yet the road to the gym is littered with quitters. What’s going on?

 Here’s my analysis. In Biblical times slaves built pyramids for the Pharaohs. The Pharaoh probably said something like, “Here is a great way for you to keep in shape. The exercise will improve your aerobic functioning and build muscle tone.” Of course, the slaves had no choice but to accept this decree. In today’s world we can substitute “personal trainer” for “Pharaoh.” The idea is the same. OK.  I can hear you saying, “Wait a minute! That’s not a fair comparison!” You are right.  The Pharaohs gave the slaves the opportunity to exercise and do weight training free of charge, while any decent personal trainer will charge you a fortune.

 Have I made it clear that I am not one of those people who get great pleasure from physically tormenting their bodies? Even in my younger days I was not particularly athletically motivated.  Now in my later years, you can be assured that my aversion to physical exercise has only grown.

 But, what choice do I have? I must find a way to get myself to the gym and stay motivated. I can spend hours on the internet playing word games. Why am I motivated to do that? To see if I can beat my previous score!  Maybe I can use the same psychology to motivate myself to exercise.  Maybe, for me, exercise should be a four letter word: game.

 Yesterday I went to the gym and was able to do 25 minutes on the elliptical and 10 minutes on the treadmill (3.0). Since the elliptical requires more effort, I am giving myself 3pts/ minute. The treadmill earns 1pt/minute @ 3.0 and increases to 2pts/minute @ 3.2, 3pts/minute @ 3.4 and so on.  So today’s score = 85.

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Snickers dressed for a party

Snickers dressed for a party

Can a dog really help you to lose weight? Absolutely! My dog (8 year old Cock-a-poo) Snickers has become a vital part of my weight control and fitness plans. He watches my every move thus ensuring that I will feel guilty if I cheat. He motivates me to make healthier choices.  And. He encourages me to go just a little further. Sometimes it seems that Snickers will go to any lengths to help me. Let me explain.

Recently my daughter, Laura, gave me a book, How to Have an Ill-behaved Dog (published by Knock Knock). This hilarious book has been a real eye-opener.  Many of the behaviors that I had thought were “bad” turn out to be wonderful expressions of my dog’s love for me.

Every time I start to prepare food in the kitchen Snickers rouses himself from wherever he has been napping and sits at my feet staring at me with such an intensity that I can almost feel it. After reading the book I understand that he is trying to communicate with me.  “I hope you are going to make something low calorie and healthy” his eyes seem to be saying. He sits quietly as I prepare salad or vegetables.  But as soon as I put meat, poultry or fish on the counter he starts to whine.  It is as if he saying “Is that too many calories?  Is there too much fat? What about the sodium?” Sometimes if the meat is too fatty or there is too much chicken, he becomes even more agitated.  For a little dog it is amazing how high he can jump. That’s right! He will actually jump up repeatedly to remind me to watch my portion control. And sometimes when I don’t pay enough attention to his good advice he becomes such a nuisance that I just have to take some food off my plate and give it to him. Then he looks up at me as if to say, “Good girl! You know that was more than you really needed.”

Watching my food intake is not the only way that Snickers helps me to lose weight. He also encourages me to exercise more. When he thinks that I have lounged around the house or worked at the computer for too long, he gently reminds me that it might be a good idea to get some exercise by going for a walk. From past experience I have learned that if I don’t heed him there could be some nasty surprises in my future. His successful motivational techniques get me out of the house and walking in no time. Sometimes after walking for 10 or 15 minutes I want to go back home.  Not Snickers! He knows I need more than that. He pulls on the leash until I get the idea that we have to walk more. What a friend!

Thanks, Laura, for such a thoughtful gift. Those of you who found this blog by accident and aren’t into a healthy lifestyle might be interested in  another of the books in the Self-Hurt series, How to Get Fat. This book guarantees that “even if you’ve failed at weight gain before, with this easy, step-by-step guide, you’ll actualize your inner corpulence. “

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