Monday Motivation guest post: Jog with your dog!

This week’s Monday Motivation comes via Talia Tugman, owner of Bite Size Wellness.

Getting gymspiration from friends, seeking encouragement on Twitter and watching a few episodes of the Biggest Loser are usually enough to get me off the couch, but the biggest form of fitness social support comes from an unlikely source: my furry, four-legged companion Faith.

Having Faith has definitely positively influenced my exercise routine (especially when the weather is full of sun-shining days). The fitness benefits of having a dog start with the fact that I will always rack up some extra mileage in my day because the pup needs to get out of my cramped NYC apartment, rain or shine. This means I am bound to get some extra steps in no matter what. Oh, and did I mention, I live on a 5th floor walk-up? Feel the burn baby…even if it is just for a potty break. And don’t even get me started on carrying large bags of dog food up the 5 flights!

Dogs are excellent workout partners because their enthusiastic wagging tail and excited energy will never dwindle. I mean, if I got as pumped up about just looking at my running shoes as Faith did from seeing a leash I would NEVER skip a day at the gym. The effortless enthusiasm that she always brings to the table when it comes to getting out the door is inspiring to say the least. Dogs have energy to burn and instinctively seem to know the importance of physical activity as a part of their lifestyle. Talk about learning a lesson from man’s best friend. Surely we should all get such joy out of daily fitness and a little game of fetch.

In truth, my past of training for a half marathon would not have been the same without the pup. On days when I just wasn’t feeling the idea of running my mind was instantly changed when I came into my apartment and looked into those eyes. The thought of letting myself down AND my dog was too much to handle! By the end, I think my sprinter dog may have rolled her eyes when the leash came out and I told her that today was a 10-miler, but no matter what she hit the road with me…complaint free! Another perk of having a dog as a fitness buddy is while your BFF or significant other can get busy and spew out excuses, rover would do no such thing. In fact, a recent study from the New York Times went as far as to say that a having a canine in the house beats out the latest home exercise equipment. And, according to Reuters, having a companion animal makes you 66% more likely to get you walking (and at a faster pace). When you are committed to your hound, you are also committing to your own physical activity.

If you want your pet to go from sofa sniffer to trail dog, consider these tips to get your pup started off on the right paw:

• Don’t let your dog run you. Running with rover will be a much better experience if he or she is not yanking your arm off to smell the flowers or become overly fascinated by a squirrel. Start off walking and invest time in heel training before sprinting full speed ahead.
• Dogs need preparation too, so don’t expect that because you conquered running 4 miles in 30 minutes that your pro-lounger can automatically keep up with you. Take it slow and work up to higher mileage and speed.
• Just like you, your pooch will appreciate an established exercise routine. If you are a morning runner and feel like sleeping in your pup will practically beg you to get out of bed based on the habits you set. No need to self-motivate!
• When running with rover, be sure to carry water. Dogs can overheat easily and do not sweat so bring some water along to help them cool down.
• Praise your furry friend for making it through an exhausting run so that she will know that she did a great job. Okay…go ahead and shower yourself with compliments too while you are at it.

The biggest reward you can receive is feeling good after your sweat session and seeing your dog crash on the living room rug. One thing is for sure, giving Faith her daily exercise makes me a proud (fit) owner. So the next time you are in need of fitness motivation just think about dogs and their effortless gusto for fitness. It’s sure to get you lacing up your shoes in no time!

For the cat lovers, aside from leashing up your meow-er, just think about how excited your feline friend gets to rub up on your sweaty work out pants…or not? Maybe we need to work at the whole cat as a fitness partner thing at another time☺

Does your pet motivate you to work out?

Talia Tugman lives in New York City with her nearly new husband. In an effort to be in touch with living a healthy lifestyle in a new city, Talia is sharing enlightened wellness living information with others served in bite size portions on her blog BiteSizeWellness.com.

Things you might have missed while I’ve been away

I know. It’s been quiet around here for the past week or so. I’ve been on holiday with my family and chose to honor that time with a vacation from my computer. No e-mails or texts or phone calls. No Twitter or Facebook or blogging. (It was harder than I’m making it sound!)

I did, however, prepare a few posts in advance, just so you wouldn’t miss me while I was gone! Did you see them, even without my social media prompts?

If not, here’s what you missed;

Progressing your plank and packing for a plane ride

Exercising to look good

Hotel room workouts via Tuesday Trainer

Understanding your real reason for exercising

Making fitness a family affair via Coquitlam Center

I’ll be back to my regular blogging schedule tomorrow; Monday Motivation with a guest post from Talia Tugman of Bite Size Wellness fame!

Did you do anything exciting on your spring break?

Bye-bye burpees, hello (just a little) sugar and a pretty package from Arbonne

January is my least favorite month of the year. Short days, too much rain and the financial aftermath of the holidays always make me long for February.

This year there are two extra reasons to be happy that January is finally over; no more burpees (at least for a little while) and the end of the no sugar challenge!

Although both challenges went well, I’m looking forward to a little slice of something sweet come dessert night (always Friday and Sunday in my house). And my group fitness classes are certainly looking forward to more variety in their plyometrics training! (I’ve promised them that the entire month of February will be burpee-less and I’m certain they will hold me to my word!).

I’ve been taking my new GNC vitamins religiously and although it’s probably too soon to tell, I do feel like they’re giving me more energy. In fact, after Monday morning’s Step and Weights class, several of my participants wanted to know if I’d had an extra shot of coffee that morning (I believe the exact words were ‘did you take something before class?’). I’ll write a review post once I’ve finished my month’s supply.

And all my Tweeting about vitamins and energy did not go unnoticed by my friend Lyndsy, who happens to be a sales consultant for Arbonne. She asked me if I’d be interested in trying some of their supplements. Now you will pardon my ignorance, but I had NO IDEA that Arbonne sold health products. I always associated them with skin care and makeup (I probably need some help in that department too, but I digress). Of course, I said YES, and just look at what Lyndsy dropped off in the weight room for me (thanks so much Lyndsy!);

Protein powder, fibre supplements, energy fizz tablets, vitamin packs, tea and kids chewable vitamins. I’m planning to try the chocolate protein after my morning workout (it’s legs day, today), but will hold off on the vitamins and energy tablets until my current vitamin experiment is finished (otherwise, I won’t know which product is responsible for what; science experiments 101). In the mean time, I’ve given my 7-year old one of the kid’s vita-chews to try. Here’s his review!

P.S. Still haunted by that age old question, cardio before or after weights? Check out my take on it over at Bite Size Wellness!

Did you take your vitamins today?

What do you love about February?

Disclaimer: GNC vitamins were purchased by me. Arbonne samples were a gift. All comments and opinions are my own (and those of my son!).

Bite Size Wellness and ‘Shape’ly legs workout

After yesterday’s WordPress blackout and this morning’s power outage in my neighborhood, I wasn’t sure if I’d manage to blog again before the weekend! But here I am, hot coffee in hand and the furnace slowly warming up a house that’s been cold for nearly nine hours, sitting down to tell you about a wonderful new health and wellness website and my Thursday legs-from-hell workout!

You may have noticed the badges I’ve recently started (proudly) displaying in my sidebar. One of them is for a new website dedicated to all things health and wellness-related.

What sets Bite Size Wellness apart from other healthy living sites is it’s emphasis on short, ‘bites’ of information about fitness, nutrition, mind and body, pampering and work. ‘Bites’ that are quickly and easily read and readily remembered when you need them.

I think it’s a fantastic site, not just because I’ll be regularly contributing content to it ;), but because it’s visually appealing, motivating and comprehensive. The articles are well researched and written and address topics that are timely and relevant to most purveyors of online health and wellness information.

Give it a read and tell me what you think!

And on a completely different note (nice segue, huh?); today was leg day for me.

One of my goals for the next 6 to 8 weeks is to improve the strength and muscle tone in my legs. In general, I tend to spend way more time on upper body exercises (the muscles you see in the mirror) and not nearly enough time working my legs and tush. Although it’s -8 and snowy here today, shorts-season is only a few months away. Time to bring those ‘legging’ (get it? my legs are lagging behind the rest of my body?) body parts up to snuff!

I did a program that one of my colleagues saw in an old issue of Shape magazine. Now, I don’t usually buy Shape, because I like to see women with more muscle and muscle definition on the cover of fitness magazines than their models usually exhibit, but their ‘Legs, butt and abs’ workout looked incredible. Since today was not a ‘core’ day for me, I did only the legs part of the program (which was absolutely enough for me!).

  1. Leg extension machine: 50 lbs x 15 reps x 4 sets (resting 30 s between sets)
  2. Hamstring curl machine: 45 lbs x 15 reps x 4 sets (resting 30 s between sets)
  3. Leg press: 90 lbs x 20 reps superset three times with Smith machine alternating back lunges: 50 lbs x 15 reps per leg
  4. Assisted pistol (or single leg) squats: body weight only x 15 each leg superset three times with straight leg deadlifts 50 lbs x 20 reps
  5. Goblet squats: 25 lbs x 20 superset three times with Air squats x 20

This is what my legs felt like by the end (actually, by the end of the 2nd set of pistol squats);

Source

Looking forward to thumbing through some more issues of Shape at the gym and seeing what other types of torture their trainers have come up with!

Do you have a specified ‘leg’ day?

What are your favorite leg exercises?