No surprise, we’re going to deep dive into resolutions this week. Truth be told, I loved 2019. I’m not trying to jet off and leave it in the past as with some other years here and there. Second truth? I don’t love resolutions. I feel like it puts a lot of pressure on us for a while, then they are easy to leave behind. By March, most people have moved on. There is nothing wrong with a two-month goal, BUT, if you want to really change things, lets see if we can find a way to go the distance.
So I may not love resolutions, but I DO love fit pets. I love seeing and feeling ribs on pets (just the last few though, I’m picky like that.) I love seeing pets live to old age, I love pets in less pain and I love healthy pets. All of those things are related! I will admit that I often talk about pet weight loss and most people ignore me. I am sure they do it out of love, but the truth is that this is the time of year when people are on board for pet weight loss (well, mostly their own, but the dogs thankfully get rolled in.)
Weight loss resolutions are the #1 most popular resolution in America almost every year. This makes sense for a lot of reasons. Weight loss often comes with a healthier lifestyle which leads to better self-esteem and longer, healthier life. Our pets don’t need to worry about self-esteem issues because they are so cute regardless, but longer, healthier life is important. While they still don’t worry about that, a longer life makes us happy (and me happy as your vet) and a healthier life where they feel better does make a difference to them.
So, what does your dog have to do with your resolution? A lot, as it turns out. People who make a resolution with a buddy are more likely to stay accountable. Often on days we can’t do things just for us, we can do them for someone else. Sure, these studies may be mostly based on human buddies, but realistically, your pet is a better bet. No offense to my awesome friends, but no one holds me accountable to exercise like my pets. At the end of a long day, my friends are never going to tell me I must go exercise. Thankfully. But my dogs tell me every time. They don’t really care if I’m tired or my feet hurt, they want to go explore, and they want me with them.
Success rates for goals that have a helping buddy are at least three times higher than those without. People are great, but you can always count on your pet to be up for the challenge.
Make a reasonable goal and match it with your goal for your pet. If you need help determining a health goal for your pet, your veterinarian will be glad to help you. Maybe you both need to lose 10% of your body weight. Maybe your dog needs to lose 10 pounds and you need to lose 50, or your cat needs to lose two and you need to lose two. Pair these goals on paper so that you have a weekly or bi-weekly total. Maybe you will each cut your food, exercise 45 minutes a day and aim to lose 2% of what you need to per week or two. Write down the amount you exercised your dog each day on the calendar so that if you start skipping days it is plainly on paper. My dogs tell me clearly in their energy level and behavior if I have skipped a day, but not all are so pushy.
Maybe your pet is in perfect shape (as mine are) but you have some work to do on yourself (as I do.) The great thing is that your dog is always going to be happy to jog with you, even if the goal for them is to stay exactly as they are. So, even if you don’t have matched weight-loss goals, you can still have matched exercise goals. In my mind, having a baby was carte blanche to eat my weight in cake. I still controlled how much my dogs ate, but wasn’t able to do the same for myself.
Once you get into a routine of exercise, the chemicals that your brain releases during exercise become their own reward. This happens for us and our pets both. I find that having a reason to exercise is one of the only things that gets me out, but I am always happy it did. No matter how tired I am, I feel more energized after my walks. When I come home exhausted in the dark, my dogs are still bouncing up and down and ready for their walk. Usually, this is all the motivation that I need, but some days are harder. On these very hard evenings, I think about increasing their lifespan and decreasing their disease chances. I have almost no motivation to walk myself on days that aren’t ideal, but I always always have motivation for my pets.
So, resolutions may have questionable staying power, but soon I will also talk about why it’s worth sticking with a pet fitness resolution. The good thing about them is that we often need the most motivation in the darkest, coldest days of the year. Maybe that is why we have New Year’s resolutions and not April resolutions? I’m sure coming after six weeks of desserts doesn’t hurt either (I won’t disclose how many pounds of butter I’ve used in the last 10 days!) Happy resolving!