Health-related motivation can come from a variety of places. Friends, doctors, books and the web can offer varying levels of accountability, but they might not always work for everyone. Sometimes people find alternative ways to keep themselves working out and in shape. For my friend Jeff, it came in the form of man’s best friend. When he adopted a dog who had lots of energy, he quickly found it useful for getting him off the couch and hitting the pavement.
We all have “those friends;” the ones who are super passionate about one very specific thing in their life and almost everything seems to revolve around that one thing. For Jeff, that thing is dogs. He can tell you the difference between every type of retriever and will chastise you for referring to “Pit Bull” as a breed. He has the best BPA-free dog toys, purchases quality dog insurance and makes sure nothing less than natural dog food enters his pup’s digestive system.
And while Jeff was certainly the master of all things canine, fitness was never really a focus. A few feeble attempts from time to time at improving this were made in the weeks following a standard New Year’s resolution, but very rarely did they last. But here we were about a year ago, playing video games in his apartment one night when he told me that he planned on adopting a new pup. It had been about a year since his 12 year old chocolate lab had passed, and he felt ready to adopt a new best friend.
At the shelter, he was looking through the various pups and ended up falling in love with a Lab/Pit mix named Ella. She was just a little over one year old, but already knew several tricks and was housetrained. After falling in love with her during introductions, he signed the papers and took her home later that night. He knew she was a perfect match as she was extremely playful, but immediately learned she was going to need lots and lots of exercise. Living right by an off leash dog park, he got used to taking her to the park each day and throwing tennis balls for her, sometimes for over an hour.
Jeff quickly realized that there might be some mutual benefits here. He had a bundle of motivating energy waiting for him every day after work (and sometimes in the morning). “Hey!” He thought to himself… “I should start running alongside Ella!” And so he did. First, the distances were relatively short, and mixed with a good amount of walking. But as time went on, the distances naturally grew and the time spent walking minimized. He was quickly noticing an improvement in his health and energy levels which only helped to motivate him even more.
One of the best parts about having Ella waiting for him every day when he got home was if he tried for a second to make personal excuses not to go running, Ella would give him her sad puppy face until Jeff put his shoes on and grabbed the leash; motivation to say the least. And now, almost a year later, Jeff is down about 20 pounds and has never felt better. He is training for his first half marathon that he will hopefully run this summer. I have never seen him stay motivated in his fitness this long, and am really hoping Ella can keep it that way.
Author’s Bio: Rob is an avid runner himself and is happy to have Jeff and Ella alongside. He encourages all pet owners to consider pet insurance to protect their furry friends. He can be reached on Twitter @stentontoledo.