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Between the COVID-19 pandemic, extreme windstorms, heatwaves, and unprecedented fires, you and your dog are likely spending less time outside and more time huddled up on the couch. And frankly, no judgments.
With everything 2020 has thrown our way, our everyday lives have had to drastically shift and adjust as we weather this pandemic and so much more. Furthermore, while stuck in this continuous isolation, you may have noticed that you and your pup have or are gaining weight. Considering that most of us can no longer pop into the gym, attend dance lessons, or even shoot hoops at the basketball court, it’s hardly a surprise that our activity levels have gone way down over the past several months. And our furry friends are in similar boats with dog parks and play dates with fellow furry friends no longer being an option. Additionally, our diets have also seen an increase in processed foods and alcohol. This worries healthcare experts as the sudden increase in weight across the country could become a public health concern.
If you find yourself worrying about the extra weight you and your dog have gained over the past year, first, you’re not alone and secondly, there are some simple, yet effective things you can start doing that can help.
Give Yourself a Little Push
The first step in any new health and fitness journey is finding the right kind of motivation and inspiration. A good place to start is by outlining your and your dog’s health goals for the upcoming months. This can be as simple as losing weight or including additional goals such as increasing your endurance, flexibility, or learning how to cook healthier meals.
And don’t forget about your pooch. Pay a visit to your vet if you haven’t in a while and see what weight range they need to be in and how much they need to lose. Now is also the perfect time to address any other health concerns such as plaque build-up on their teeth or a dry nose. Your vet may also suggest a change in diet to help combat additional pounds.
Once you and your dog have solidified your health and fitness plans, try finding some ways to help remind you of those goals. One idea could be printing and hanging up some amazing inspirational quotes, which even medical professionals use, around your home or set one as your background on your phone’s lock screen. It might seem cheesy or cliche, but words are powerful, and having an extra boost of encouragement can be surprisingly effective.
If that’s not really what works for you, you can also try a guided meditation session to help focus your mind and renew your motivation. Inspiration can also come from music. It’s been found that our bodies will synchronize their movements to the music and rhythms we listen to. This means the right tunes can turn you and your dog’s jog around the block into a full-blown workout by increasing your stamina and drive. So why not try creating a few playlists full of your favorite upbeat songs. While motivational quotes and meditation might do little to help inspire your furry friend, dogs have been found to naturally pick up on the energy and mood of their owners so if you’re feeling pumped, they will too!
Share a Healthy Meal with Fido
Another health concern to come out of quarantine is the amount of processed food being consumed. To be fair, considering how much people are now having to juggle with work, remote or otherwise, kids going back to school, and other life responsibilities COVID-19 has made more difficult, finding time to cook a meal rich with fresh, healthy ingredients is nearly impossible.
However, as difficult as it can be, making time — even if it’s just once or twice a week — to supply your body with health-boosting nutrients and vitamins will be much better for you in the long run. Your dog can also make for the perfect sous chef. One way to start eating healthier is to start having dinner dates with your dog a few times a week. Dogs can safely eat a lot of the same foods we do, such as bananas, blueberries, and carrots. Not only that, but dogs also benefit nutritionally when they consume these certain foods. Bananas, for example, are full of potassium, biotin, and fiber which can help regulate your dog’s weight and promotes better heart health.
With all of the being said, it is vital to keep in mind that there are some foods extremely dangerous for dogs to eat such as grapes and onions. So while you may not be able to always share the same meal, seeing your dog’s big puppy eyes asking for a few slices of apple as your prepare a healthy meal is a great motivator to keep cooking and enjoying mealtime together.
Utilize Your Post-Workout
Considering you and your dog likely don’t have a lot of free time to spend exercising, making each workout count can help keep you on track with your goals. One way to get the most out of your exercising efforts is by tailoring your post-workout meal.
What you should eat after a workout depends on the kind of workout you do. Our muscles are made up of proteins and amino acids and these break down with our workouts, whether that’s running, lifting weights, or pilates. Generally, it’s always a good idea to replenish those damaged muscle proteins by eating foods such as lean meat, fish, chicken, eggs, and beans. Muscles also need to replenish glycogen after a workout which can happen with the help of the right carbohydrates like rice, sweet potatoes, bananas (don’t forget to share), and oats.
And don’t forget to rehydrate. Both you and your dog should be hydrating before, during, and after your workouts. Always bring a collapsable water dish with you and some fresh water to share. And while we’re on the topic, don’t forget to protect you and your dog from heatstroke by avoiding working out in the middle of the day and always wear sunscreen to protect your skin.
At the end of the day, weight gain can turn into a serious health concern both for you and your dog. This year has been a stressful one and while necessary quarantine measures may keep us cooped up at home, it’s still important to make health and wellness a top priority. We may not know what the coming months will bring, but at least you and your furry best friend will be ready to take on the next challenge together.