Month: February 2017

5 Things That Dogs Can Teach You About Emotions

I am very honored to have Luna Lupus from www.luna-lupus.com here to share her excellent expertise on what dogs can teach us about emotions! Since taking in my new puppy a month ago, I’ve become a lot more passionate about how much our dogs (and other furbabies) can give us in return for the care and love we give them. They offer us so much and they really can teach us a lot. I know my puppy has taught me a bit more about perspective as he constantly reminds me of what is most important! I hope you enjoy Luna’s post, it is very enlightening!

Dog owners like say that dogs are our biggest teachers. They teach us things about dog training, patience, communication and the power of unconditional love. But often times, if we only give them a chance, they can teach us more than that; they can teach us so much about ourselves. Dogs, like humans, are sentient beings with a wide spectrum of emotions. Just like us, they can be happy, angry, afraid and even depressed. Their emotions are not to be underestimated. As somebody who has been surrounded by dogs all my life and have done a fair share of work on my mental health, I started to notice the parallels between the way dogs and humans process trauma and emotions. Truth be told, we are not that different. However, our furry best friends can teach us some very important things.

 

Here are 5 things that your dog can teach you about emotions!

1. Feel your emotions

As humans, we like to repress certain emotions that make us (or those around us) feel uncomfortable; most common ones tend to be anger, sadness and fear. It’s a coping mechanism that we pick up at the earliest stages of our life. Dogs, however, are different. They feel the emotions in all of their entirety, they don’t worry whether or not they should be afraid or angry, they simply let their emotions be. I have been surrounded by rescue dogs for the last couple of years non-stop and even though they have been through some really rough things, they never cease to impress me with their ability to let emotions run through them freely.

2. Express your emotions

Closely correlating to the first point, expressing your emotions is the next step from feeling them. With dogs, this is usually the same thing – as they feel it, they express it. People, on the other hand, like to overthink things. When we feel angry with someone we love, we wonder if we should tell them or just keep quiet. When we feel sad, we wonder if we can show it on the outside or rather pretend to be happy. Allow dogs to teach you that expressing your emotions is liberating. Think of your dog when you come home from work. What does he do? Chances are, he goes nuts for you! Jumps up and down, runs around the house, barks in excitement because you just came home and that makes him the happiest. Dogs are not afraid of being too much. Every time you question whether expressing your emotions will make you seem “too needy” or “too sensitive” or “too out there” … think about your dog when he is angry, scared or happy. He is liberated and emotional at the same time. He is liberated because he is emotional! Expressing your emotions is not only healthy, it is also a freeing experience. Give it a chance.

3. There’s no such thing as bad emotions

Before you ask “But what if I want to express a negative emotion?” let’s tackle it straight away! Dogs understand that there are no bad emotions – humans don’t. Every single emotion has its purpose. When you encounter abused dogs you really start to understand that. Let’s take an example of a dog who is afraid of other dogs. When he is faced with another dog he will clearly express his emotions of fear; his tail will go between his legs, he will lower his head and turn it to the side, he might even begin licking his lips. He is visibly afraid. This is good. Why? Because he is clearly communicating with the other dog, saying “I am not a threat to you.” Every dog owner who is familiar with basic canine body language can tell the signs that I have just described (lowered tail, lip licking, head lowered and turned to the side) are calming signals. He is trying to get the other dog to back off. Can you trace this back to your own life?

When you are afraid, it’s your body’s way of trying to protect you. When you are angry, it’s your body’s way of giving you power to set boundaries. When you are sad, it’s your body’s way of demanding rest and emotional introspection. All of these emotions are positive and important. Just like a dog communicating with another dog, your emotions can help you recognize your needs and help you communicate them to other people.

4. Your emotions can be misplaced and that’s okay

Can emotions be misplaced? Of course they can. Both humans and dogs can find ourselves facing strong emotions in situations where they don’t necessarily serve us. To continue with the example I have described above, if the dog is suddenly acting fearful around every single dog he encounters, even when he is in no danger whatsoever, that fear would be misplaced and a result of a trigger. This is a very common symptom of anxiety and PTSD. It’s about experiencing great fear in completely neutral situations. However, that doesn’t mean you should abandon everything we’ve discussed so far! You should absolutely:

  • recognize your fear (or other emotion)
  • express it
  • see how it can serve you

Let me give another example, a human one this time. If you keep getting angry at your partner and you can’t understand why, instead of beating yourself up about it, take a close look at that anger. In which situations does it occur? How long does it last? What does it remind you of? Every time I open the doors of my home to another rescue dog I pay close attention to their emotional responses and try to see if there are any underlying patterns that need to be resolved. Once I recognize their misplaced emotions, we can start working together towards a better mindset. Emotions are like a compass; they show you where you need to look, what you need to pay attention to and give you a great opportunity for personal growth.

5. Don’t allow your emotions to hold you hostage

At the end of the day, you are more than your emotions. When dogs are faced with a situation where they are angry or sad, they don’t contemplate it for the rest of the day. They are present in the moment and they let it go once it passes. They don’t dwell on their emotional responses. I know that accepting your emotions won’t happen overnight, but if you do nothing else today, at least give yourself a promise that you won’t allow your emotions to hold you hostage anymore. Don’t feel guilty for feeling a certain way, don’t worry about it all day long; look to your dog if you need to be inspired by somebody who is a master at living in the moment, no matter which emotion was running through him five minutes ago. From angrily barking at a squirrel to show her who’s boss, to lying on your couch in a relaxed manner, all within minutes. Dogs just get it: life is too short to live in the past.

I hope the next time you look at your dog, you don’t just see your fur baby and fellow adventurer; I hope you see a teacher, a guru. I hope you give him a chance to teach you even more about yourself. And above all, I hope you accept yourself with all of your emotions – just like your dog does, every single day.

 

Luna C. Lupus is a freelance blogger and a mom to her rescue dogs. She specializes in positive pet training, responsible dog ownership and helping people with challenging dogs. You can find out more about her work at www.luna-lupus.com

How Our Furry Workout Partners Can Inspire Us

Our furbabies are more than just companions and family members, they can actually make wonderful workout partners too! Just a few days ago, I was doing Cize and my puppy, Jasper was bouncing around and wanting to play because I was dancing and laughing. It made such a big difference to me because I felt a bit silly at first. I don’t dance often, and I’ve never been a good dancer, and exercise videos in general can sometimes feel a bit silly when I first start them. However, when he was looking at me, cocking his head, it made me laugh and when I laughed, he started bouncing around like he wanted to join in. That made the workout so much easier to get into and just feel it, not feel so silly!

This experience as well as knowing that my Jasper will be a great walking and running partner once he has all of his vaccines, got me to thinking about how our furry workout partners are very beneficial in our pursuit of a healthy lifestyle!

Walking and running buddies

While it depends on many factors, our dogs can make amazing walking and running buddies. In fact, they encourage us to get up and go in the first place. They need the exercise as much as we do and if we don’t take them for a walk or a run, we may pay the price in the form of a hyper dog. When you go for a walk or a run, having your dog with you helps you feel safer and more energized too!

Workout video companion

Whether your dog or cat simply hangs out in the room with you while you exercise, giving you someone to vent to when your workout is tough, or actually tries to join in, our furry workout partners are great at keeping us company while we exercise! I know back when I only had my cat and I needed to wake up at dawn to get a workout in, she would keep me company by perching on the back of the couch or one of the chairs. Knowing she was there with me brought me comfort and silent encouragement.

Hiking buddy

Similar to having a walking or running, having a buddy to go on a hike with can help you feel more motivated, energized, and safe while you’re hiking. One of the things that has concerned me about hiking is doing it alone. I don’t really have any friends close by or family members that would enjoy going hiking, but now that I have an active and energetic dog, he will make the perfect hiking buddy. He will make me feel safer and more confident on my hikes.

Yoga or stretching

Our pets might enjoy being near us or helping us when we stretch. Their idea of helping may not be conducive to a good workout, but they will likely brighten up your session. Sometimes they may think that you are a playground that they should play on while you’re stretching. It can either be annoying, or entertaining, or maybe even both!

Our pets benefit as much as we do for us to get exercise in with them by our sides. They get exercise themselves or companionship, and we get the same in return!

 

~Bonnie~

How to Finally Stick with Your Weight Loss Goals (and Feel Great Doing it!)

I’m pleased to share with you a guest piece by Winston Henderson at 5 Years 2 Mastery, where he shares with us some tips on how to stick with our weight loss goals! These are really actionable tips that anyone can take to stick with their goals!

Raise your hand if you know this to be true.

You set a weight loss goal at the beginning of the year, promising than this time you’re definitely going to stick with it. You’re excited for the first few days, until you remember the taste of that delectable dessert that you’re probably craving now as we speak.

It’s difficult to stick with your goals isn’t it? Especially when there are so many things around to distract you from really going after it and being consistent with your activity to make it happen.

I know the feelings it creates. Feelings of disappointment, of discouragement. Beating yourself up because you just couldn’t get it done yet another time you tried. Feelings that you aren’t good enough, not worthy enough. It lowers your self-esteem and destroys your self-confidence. I know because I’ve been there.

Though I’ve never struggled with being overweight, I do know how it feels to feel like a failure because you couldn’t stick with another goal you set for yourself. My greatest hope is that I can help you to finally stick with your weight loss goal this year (even if you’ve already given up on them).

Now let me be clear, this isn’t a puff piece, nor is it an article on motivation. This isn’t me telling you that you need to quit whining and get up, put the plate down, and get your butt in the gym. Nor am I going to self-pity you in the hopes that it will get you going. My goal with this article is to give you actionable techniques that I have personally used to remain consistent with my own workout routine. Techniques that you can take, implement into your life right away, and start to see small progress in your life. The beauty with this technique is it will work for you whether you are just starting your weight loss journey, or whether you’ve fallen off track and want to get back into it, this technique will work just the same.

Before getting into the technique let’s shed some light on your situation.

 

Why You Struggle to stick with your weight loss goal

Awareness is the most important of any goal. I have found that often times it’s not that we don’t know what to do to achieve our goals, but we aren’t aware of the things that stops us or hinders us.

In working with others to help them stick with their goals (not just weight loss), I’ve realized there are 3 main reasons why you may not have stuck with your goals:

  1. You haven’t set the standard and expectation for yourself. What I mean by this is you haven’t set a standard of what you are unwilling to compromise when it comes to your weight loss goals. Also, what you’re unwilling to settle for, and what you expect from yourself when it comes to achieving your goal. In other words you haven’t made a conscious and verbal commitment that you intend to stick with this goal no matter what happens. Not just saying it in words, but actually committing to it through action. For the moment it may just be something that you think is nice to achieve, but not something that is of the highest priority for you.
  2. You haven’t identified why it’s a MUST for you. In other words what’s the main reason why this goal is so important to you? Why are you going to put yourself through the daily pain and process of losing this weight? Whatever your reason is, it has to be something that is so emotionally compelling to you, it will drive you to take action even on the days you don’t feel like doing it. Noticed I used the word ‘MUST’ which means something that is non-negotiable, something that you won’t give up on no matter what. Make this reason your motivation, instead of the goal of achieving a set weight loss number
  3. The consequence for not following through isn’t severe enough. Many people think that fear is a bad thing, and it can be if you allow it. However, if you know how to use fear to your advantage, as a driving force to get you into action and remain consistent, then you will find it easier to stick with your weight loss goals. Think about what you stand to lose, and what pain you will experience as a result of not sticking with your weight loss goal. Is it a feeling of unworthiness? Is it a health condition that you may be affected by and so will your family? Will it take away from living a life of fulfilment in some way? Whatever the reason is ensure it is something that is painful enough (the more the better). This pain or the fear of what will happen if you don’t stick with your weight loss goals will trigger you to get into action, and stay in action.

There are other subsets of these 3 why most people don’t stick with their goals, but this should be enough to get you moving.

 

The Technique to Finally Help You Stick With Your Goals

The technique I am referring to is one I’ve personally developed through my own experience of struggling with inconsistency and lacking commitment for over 31 years. I call it The S.T.A.R.S. TechniqueTM.

Let’s break it down.

Standard & Expectation

The first thing you want to do is set the Standard and Expectation of what you are unwilling to compromise and what you expect from yourself. As mentioned above you want to verbally express this to yourself.

The phrase I used when I was working on sticking with my workout routine was “I am someone who never misses a day working out”. I would repeat that in the morning hours before I was even ready to exercise. It helped to condition my mind to make it happen when the time came, and set the tone as to what I am to expect from myself.

 

Trigger

The Trigger is what is used to let your brain know it’s time to perform the action. The action in this case doesn’t have to be exercising. It could be something as simple as drinking a glass of water, or eating a salad plate or fruit.

Think of the Trigger as a message notification on your phone. When you receive a new message or email typically your phone will flash a light, vibrate, or make a ping sound to let you know that you received a new message. The action that follows would then be you checking your phone. So in the case of your weight loss goal the Trigger would be whatever you put in place to let you know to take a particular action.

 

Action

The next step is the actual action. Now when starting out or getting back into your routine, it’s very important not to try to do too much too soon. The reason being is it will make you overwhelmed easily, and soon burnout, get discouraged, then you’ll eventually quit on your goal.

What you want to do is start small and simple. Make the action step so easy that it would be ridiculous for you not to stick with your weight loss goal. Consistent, small steps, lead to big results.

Reward

The reward is what you give yourself for taking action. Now the reward I use is not external reward such as being able to watch my favourite television program. My reward is internal, which is celebrating and congratulating myself for taking action. I have found that this approach is more effective in long term habit formation

Self-Affirmation and Reinforcement

Finally you want to reinforce your Standard and Expectation statement. By doing this you are reminding yourself and bringing it into focus that you are developing and becoming someone who will stick with their goals.

So repeat what you said but in second person this time. Say “[insert your name] you truly are someone who never misses a day to work out!” There’s a psychology behind this when it comes to developing your Identity that is powerful!

To learn more about the S.T.A.R.S. TechniqueTM I created a training video on it where I go into greater depth on this technique.

To close let me just briefly share some quick tips that will help you on your weight loss journey.

 

Quick Tips to Help You Stick With It

  1. Choose an environment that will increase the chances you will stick with your weight loss goals, and remove anything from your environment such as foods that will hurt that goal
  2. Associate with other people who are ahead of you in the weight loss journey, it will give you something to inspire towards
  3. If you are working out choose a time based on your temperament. So if you are more a morning person do it then, night person choose that time. It will increase the likelihood of you taking action and sticking with your goal
  4. ALWAYS celebrate and congratulate yourself after taking action, no matter how small the action is

 

To your success my friends!

Author: Winston Henderson is a Break Through and Consistency Mentor at 5 Years 2 Mastery, who helps others to break through and overcome the mental barriers and limiting beliefs holding them back from taking action towards their goals, and helps them remain consistent towards achieving those goals.

God and Food: An Appetite for Everlasting Satisfaction

I am so excited, and honored, to have one of my new friends, Denise Marcello Manning write this guest post for me!

Does food have ungodly control over you?  

It was a question that I already knew the answer to in regards to my own life, as I had personally struggled with an eating disorder for over two decades. While God has delivered me from this addiction, I never fully understood why I gravitated to food in the first place.

And, why at times, I still do.

I still experience those times where I turn to food for comfort.  When the old, addictive behavior resurfaces, I find myself drawn to sugary, fattening foods to make myself feel better on the inside.  There have also been times in my life that I have restricted my food intake to satisfy my inner desire to be thin, or to look and feel better about myself.  

The book, Full – Food, Jesus and the Battle for Satisfaction, by Aseritah Ciuciu, put this struggle into perspective for me with these words:  

“We can’t solve a spiritual problem with a physical solution.” 

As a fitness coach, I can give a client a healthy meal plan, but God helped me to recognize that proper nutrition alone can’t solve the underlying problem – why are we eating the way that we do?

Whether we find ourselves in the throes of food addiction or food fixation, neither can ever bring the satisfaction we truly crave.    Have you ever found yourself completely consumed by food, only to realize that it never solves your problem, but leaves you feeling ashamed, empty and utterly alone?  

In Full – Food, Jesus and the Battle for Satisfaction, the author writes, “When we eat and eat and eat, unaware of what’s going into our mouths, unable to taste, enjoy, or relish the food but just stuffing down one mouthful after another until it makes us sick – that’s being enslaved to our appetites.”  When I read those words, my eyes filled with tears.  This explained my lifelong relationship with food!  2 Peter 2:19 says, “People are slaves to whatever has mastered them.”  Unbeknownst to me, I had become enslaved to food.  It may not be what society calls “addictive” (like drugs and alcohol), but I promise you that Satan can use food as a stronghold in our lives.

There is only one way to be truly sated.  Did you know that we are designed to crave God?  God invites us to join Him at the table of eternal satisfaction.  Isaiah 55:1-2 says, “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come buy wine and milk without money and without cost.  Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.”  The bible uses the example of food in this verse to describe the fullness that only God can provide.  How exciting that God offers us the “richest of food and drink” through intimacy with Him, and wants us to come and “eat” until we are fully satisfied!

Instead of picking up a fork or spoon the next time you seek comfort, I pray that you will ask God, through his Living Word (and possibly this book!) to show you the pathway to everlasting satisfaction.  He is our daily bread, and all that we will ever need!

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links.

Author: Denise Marcello Manning
Follower of Christ, Certified in Nutrition and Fitness, Virtual Spiritual & Physical Fitness Coach and actively involved in women’s ministries.  Married with three dogs, loving the outdoors and enjoying log cabin living in upstate New York.  Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ Jesus who gives me strength.  Motto: Step out in faith!

11 Inspirations to Improve Your Health

We all need inspiration to lose weight, or in this case improve our health, because it can be hard to stay motivated and inspired to do so. There are many reasons to lose weight and get healthier. Sometimes we need to be reminded on a daily basis of all those things that should help us stay inspired. Here are eleven of the biggest inspirations for you to keep in mind:

1. Physical Health

We can improve our physical health by eating more healthy foods, getting physical activity, and drinking more water. It helps increase our strength, endurance, and to fuel our bodies in the way they need to be fueled. What is important to remember is to do what you can with what you have and not take on too much at once. Every little healthy decision that you make adds up to big results over time. It doesn’t need to all be instantaneous. Have patience and do your best!

2. Emotional Health

Your emotional health is just as important as your physical health. As you learn to live healthier in your everyday life, some patterns may become apparent with your emotional health. For example, you may start to figure out what triggers you to feel depressed, anxious, or simply irritated or upset. When you figure those things out, you have a better chance of cutting things off before they get worse. That is one of the biggest benefits that I have found with improving my overall health, is to get to know myself well enough to improve how I function each day.

3. Mental Health

This is another one that depends on how well you are getting to know yourself. As you become more aware of your patterns, history, and other factors, the more you can gain control over your life. That doesn’t mean it will be easy by any means, but you can start to control what circumstances and situations you put yourself into a bit more and prepare for the ones you can’t escape from. It will help you gain more stability and contentment within your own life.

4. Play more and keep up with your kids and pets

Let’s face it, our kids and pets often have more energy than us. They are younger and just like to have fun! The healthier you are, the easier it is to keep up with the kids and pets in your life. It is so much fun to actually get involved with their play, actively engaging with them, much more fun than just watching them have all of the fun on their own!

5. Have more adventures

As your health improves, you will be able to go on more adventures. Sometimes it is difficult to get out of the house and that means that we are limited on our chance of adventures. However, there is a whole world out there just waiting to be explored and enjoyed. Some of the activities that you’ll be able to do more, or better, are to going shopping at the mall, hiking, taking walks around the neighborhood, going to theme parks, and whatever else strikes your fancy. Life is meant to be lived so improve your health and go out there to live it!

6. Gain more energy

Energy is something that a lot of us experience in short supply in our daily lives. The thing about living a healthier life, is that your energy will increase. Mine didn’t increase very fast but at some points, I felt much more energized than I had ever experienced, simply because I was eating healthier, getting more exercise, and drinking plenty of water. I’m confident that you will see some kind of increase in yours as well, as long as you consistently work on improving your health.

7. Live a fuller life with a better future

The better you feel and the healthier you are, the more you will be able to accomplish in your life. I also found that the longer I worked on improving my health and actually started accomplishing what I set out to do, the more I felt I was capable of accomplishing in other areas of my life. It gave me the confidence and the determination to go after many more of my dreams. To say the least, it was invigorating! Not only will you feel like going after more things to create a better life and future for yourself, but you will also have more energy and improved health to do so.

8. Feel better overall

You will feel better all around as you improve your health. This touches on many of the above inspirations, but this one is generalized for a reason. You will feel better overall which will boost you on so many different levels. It will help you do more and be more in your life.

9. Travel easier and more comfortably

When you lose weight and are healthier overall, traveling becomes a bit easier and more comfortable. You can fit in the bus, train, or plane seats better which means you have more room. Those seats are still small, but it does make it a bit more comfortable. Not only that, but you will have more energy to deal with the exhausting effects of traveling and be able to do more exploring on your vacations.

10. Clothes shopping can be a lot of fun

As you lose weight, you will need new clothes. Whether you go the route of thrift stores, clearance racks, or full sale, you can have a lot of fun shopping for new clothes in your new sizes. Then being able to actually wear those clothes instead of the same old ones all the time, it is such a rush! It can even be an experience in and of itself as you discover colorful and amazing clothes that you can wear that you may not have been able to wear before!

11. Boosted confidence, self-esteem, and much more

Losing weight and improving our health does us wonders in other aspects as well. The biggest way this happens is helping us feel better about ourselves all around. We start to see the good within us as we work on improving our overall health, and what we are capable of. We are all strong and capable, and we can see that even more pronounced as we work on improving our health!

Let me know what inspires you the most to improve your health in the comments, I would love to hear them!

 

~Bonnie~

Interview with Self Love Beauty Blogger Lisa Thompson

I would love to announce that I have had the pleasure to become acquainted with the wonderful lady who blogs at Self Love Beauty, Lisa Thompson! She is a runner who loves to help others see the true beauty within themselves, and I firmly believe that you should hop on over and check out her posts there on her website!

You can find Lisa on social media here: Facebook | Twitter | InstagramPinterest

What is your website about?

Self Love Beauty mission is to ensure women have self-love through feeling confident in their own beauty and feeling empowered one story at a time knowing they are not alone on their journey to reach their full potential.

Why do you feel self-love is so important?

Self-love is so important because until you love yourself you cannot be happy with other pieces of your life. It is amazing the women I know with self-love and how they give more, love more and give themselves more respect. It is extremely important. I think since I have given myself more love, I am a stronger person.

What do you think are the best ways to show self-love?

Great question! I truly think it is taking care of yourself, eating properly, being surrounded with positive people, saying no to things you don’t want to do, giving yourself respect, being kind, confident and following your dreams. You get to choice each day how to feel so why not choose love for yourself!

How can we make the world a better place simply by treating ourselves and others better?

Just think about how when someone is kind to you how it changes your day and then use that act of kindness to do the same for someone else. It is truly amazing how if you do simple things for people how it can change their day and then they turn around and do it for someone else too.

What are your biggest accomplishments as far as self-love or health go? 

My biggest accomplish is learning what works for my body. Everyone is different and therefore you have to choose what healthy means to you, what foods you want to eat and what exercises you want to do. I have finally found what exercise and food works for my body. There are multiple ads out there telling you what to try but our bodies are all different so it is important you do what you want for yourself. I have made sure to not deprive myself from going out but I also learned moderation. Not only is it important with food and exercise but truly who you surround yourself with, what positive you have in your life and being sure to always be laughing.

How important do you think living a healthy life is?

Healthy living is so important. It fuels your energy, mind and body. Health living can be handled in many ways but it is self care and self love. I am so much happier with myself since I took the turn to finally embrace my body, embrace who I am and take care of myself.

Do you have any advice to other women based on what you’ve learned or done?

It would be to find what works for yourself regarding health and all other aspects of your life it would be to know your worth. It is extremely important that you know how beautiful you are. Self love, self care and self respect are three essentials.

Don’t forget to check out Lisa’s social media pages and follow her if you like what she posts! Facebook | Twitter | InstagramPinterest

 

~Bonnie~

Health and Wellbeing Benefits of Having a Dog

If you’ve ever had a dog or thought about getting a dog, this post is for you. We may adopt or rescue them for many reasons, but the truth is that they offer us as many benefits as we offer them. I want to share with you all the health and wellbeing benefits of having a dog in your life, from the physical, to the mental, to even the emotional. They have so much to offer us in turn for our love, care, and meeting their needs.

Physical Benefits of Having a Dog

  • Healthy routine and rhythm to the day, especially if you spend much of your day sitting down. They force us to get up to take them out, feed them, fill their water bowls, play with them, and take them for walks. I know if it weren’t for my parents’ dog, and now my puppy, I would not get up and get moving as much as I do since I have a computer-based career. Those two furry creatures force me to get up every hour, or hour and a half at the most, these days. That is so beneficial to me to get the blood flowing, to break up the monotony of working nonstop, and to get a mental break from my work.
  • Daily walking. Nearly every dog needs some sort of physical activity throughout the day. Most dogs need at least 15 minutes of walking a day, and many more need at least 30-60 minutes a day. There are some, particularly high energy, breeds who need even more than that. Getting out and walking every day to take care of their physical needs in turn helps us take care of our own physical needs. Exercising is a daily activity that we need to take care of ourselves as well.
  • Playing. We all need some play in our lives. Dogs are playful, they crave that attention every day and even multiple times a day. This can come in form of roughhousing, tug-of-war, fetch, frisbee, or simply running around like crazy! It is so fun for them and brings joy to our lives too. I know there are many times that I needed that fast-paced play to get the blood flowing, and the laughter of seeing how adorable the dogs look while they’re playing. There’s never a shortage of laughs!
  • Overall increased activity. They help us get increased activity throughout the day, through taking them out for potty breaks, taking them for walks, and playing with them. That increased activity certainly adds up over time.

Mental Benefits of Having a Dog

  • Consistent responsibility for another being. When we bring a dog into our home, we take on the responsibility for another being. We can’t just take them in and forget our responsibility to them. They need a commitment and consistent care. This causes us to think beyond ourselves and only our needs. Our responsibility to them can help distract us from our mental woes too. Whenever we’re feeling down, we still have to get up and take care of them. There’s no way around that.
  • Combats mental disorders. Anyone who deals with a mental disorder of some sort will likely find benefits to their mental health for having and caring for a dog. Some of the things that dogs help combat are depression, anxiety, and PTSD among others. I personally deal with depression and anxiety on a regular basis and having my puppy has helped with my anxiety. He helps remind me that there is a bigger picture and little things that cause me anxiety aren’t that big of a deal. I just need to focus on doing my best. He has very low expectations of me, basically just to take care of him and love him. The lack of pressure, and the presence of unconditional love, helps me feel calmer.
  • Talking out loud to your dog can reduce loneliness and help you intellectually. If you spend a lot of time alone, things can get lonely and you will begin to miss the interaction with other human beings. While a dog can’t talk back to you, they are still good for listening, bouncing ideas off of them, and just having some general interaction on a daily basis. I know that I talk out loud to my puppy a lot and it releases a lot of pent up stress and helps me express myself more.
  • Helps you interact with other people more. You talk to more people when you walk, as you are more approachable and dogs also help break the ice. Not only that, but you feel braver when you’re walking with your dog as opposed to walking alone. Other people with dogs might also strike up a conversation with you about yours or their dogs. The other day, I had a conversation with a fellow dog owner. I’ve run into her quite a bit more since getting my puppy, even though I was out there quite often with my parents’ dog before that too. The conversation was funny, I felt like a parent because I was talking about my puppy. He elicits this level of pride for me and I really enjoy talking about him, rather than talking about myself!

Emotional Benefits of Having a Dog

  • Companionship and social interaction. Like I mentioned above in the mental benefits, the social interaction with your dog is so beneficial, especially when you don’t have a chance to be with other people as often as you might like or need. Your dog is also a constant companion. They rely on you, so they will rarely leave your side for too long. Knowing that they are there and that they are someone whom you can rely on as well, helps you feel more secure and comfortable.
  • Unconditional love. Dogs do not have conditions on if they love you or not. If they love you, they love you. If you take care of their needs and love them, then it’s almost guaranteed that they will love you back. Most dogs aren’t super picky about who they spend time with, although some may prefer one person over another. Knowing that someone loves you no matter what will also help you feel more secure, and less lonely!
  • Affection and touch. Petting your dog can offer you many benefits. It is comforting and pleasing, and can ease your worries and stress. Their affection in return for your love is also comforting. I know whenever I feel down or need some kind of comfort, petting my puppy helps me immensely.

There are so many health benefits to having a dog, I couldn’t even list them all here. Think about all that your dog offers you in return for your taking care of and loving him. You will see what I mean, that they are so beneficial for us in so many different ways. You will have better overall health, as well as a boost in your mood and positive feelings. They may be a lot of work, especially when they are young and especially rambunctious, but they offer so much in return for the challenges!

What does your dog offer you? What do you offer them? How do those things benefit you both? Bonus: tell me about your dog(s). I love to hear about them!

 

 

~Bonnie~

Interview with Beachbody and Health Coach Elizabeth Gudrais

Today I am sharing with you an interview I held with my Beachbody and Health Coach friend, Elizabeth Gudrais. She is such an inspiration to many, including me, and I know she will help inspire you all too!

Check out her social media pages here: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Pinterest

What is your job?

I am a fitness and wellness coach affiliated with Beachbody. At the most basic level, I am here to support people in using the company’s fitness and nutrition products: fitness programs such as PiYo, TurboFire, P90X, Insanity, Core de Force, and many others, and nutrition plans like the 21 Day Fix. I am here to help them through these programs and answer any questions they may have about our programs or supplements.

As coaches, each of us builds a unique business and brand; new customers trying a Beachbody program for the first time can choose the coach they want to work with based on the coach’s personality and the focus of his/her business. In my business, Living Vibrantly (www.livingvibrantly.net), I focus on helping women feel their best, claim their power, and discover their potential through exercise and nutrition. If we don’t feel well on a daily basis, it’s hard to find energy for work we are passionate about. It saddens me that many of us don’t even know how good we CAN feel in our bodies if we treat them right.

What do you like most about doing this kind of work?

The people!!!! All my life I’ve enjoyed meeting new people and getting to know them… their stories, their perspectives, how they view the world. It is a challenge taking that a step further and figuring out how to motivate people who may not respond to the same things that motivate me. But it’s a challenge I love and it definitely keeps each day interesting! I find it so incredible that with social media I can meet people from all over the world and we can come together and encourage one another in our online groups. The sense of community is so energizing and uplifting.

How did you get started in your personal healthy living journey?

I did not always have the perspective I have now, of loving and accepting my body (or at least working toward that daily). When I was younger, I really struggled with not liking my appearance. I was self-critical every time I looked in the mirror. Since I thought I needed to lose weight, I would skip meals and deprive myself of food. Then I would be starving hungry and I’d binge. I was stuck in a vicious cycle and it was miserable.

Breaking the cycle was not quick or simple. It started with a decision that I didn’t want to keep on living that way. It was so scary for me to eat three meals a day, and snacks in between. To eat when I was hungry and stop when I was full was completely foreign to me, but slowly I learned to make peace with the fear of gaining weight. That was the first step of a long journey. Along the way, therapy and Overeaters Anonymous (12 step meetings for food addiction) were immensely helpful for me.

Around the same time, I discovered yoga, which also helped immensely. Previously I had used exercise as punishment or at least as a way to keep my body under control. Yoga was something different: a type of movement that was more about the internal experience, and the mental and emotional benefits. For several years, the only exercise I did (other than walking) was yoga, and it really transformed my relationship with food and my body. Through all of the time I took for self-care and healing, I came to understand the emotions that were driving me to eat, and I developed better ways to cope (although I’m not perfect and there are still days when my desire to numb out drives me toward the candy dish or my old habit of skipping meals). These past experiences help me guide my clients through their own issues with food and body image.

What has been your biggest struggle in your own journey?

Depression and anxiety. Healthy habits (primarily nutrition, but also exercise, getting adequate sleep, and reducing stress) have helped a lot, but anxiety is still with me on an almost-daily basis (just not as severe as it once was), and depression still strikes sometimes without warning or explanation. At this point it’s a fact of life for me. I learned long ago, during the years when my lows were much lower, to keep going through the motions because it’s way worse if you don’t. (It’s been awhile since I lacked the energy to do even that, but I know it does happen and I’ve experienced it, so I know that even going through the motions sometimes isn’t possible for everyone in the depths of depression.) So I’ll always still get up and show up for work, but depression sometimes causes me to doubt my own abilities and isolate myself from other people, which, as you can imagine, isn’t good for my business, nor does it help me to feel less depressed. I’ve had to work on reaching out to friends to talk instead of isolating when this happens. Still, I believe that having these conditions makes me more sensitive to others who struggle with them.

Is there an event or something that happened to you that has made you more, or less, determined to live a healthier life?

My husband and I have been going through fertility treatment in one way or another for the past three years, and in 2014 I had a surgery related to this. It was supposed to be a straightforward procedure but I ended up having major complications and nearly dying. I was in the hospital for three weeks and on dialysis for three months because my kidneys weren’t working. I was incredibly sick and just physically weak. I had to learn to walk again after being bedridden. I lost 25 pounds and I’m only 5’5″! I was relatively young when it happened, so my body bounced back in most ways, but it took a lot of work and a lot of patience. Getting my daily workout in became a matter of fighting for my recovery. Cooking healthy meals became a matter of giving my body what it needed to regain strength. That experience changed the way I understood the purpose of fitness and nutrition. I had already started to care less about appearance and more about the health impact and the way these behaviors made me feel, but the experience of illness and recovery completed that shift. I will also say that the experience made me much more aware of savoring each moment and each day. I stress less and when I indulge, I don’t entertain guilt afterwards!

How do you stay motivated and encouraged each day to continue in your journey?

Honestly, it all comes back to the people. I love my team and I love the Beachbody community. They make it fun to show up each day and share about my workout or share recipes and trade nutrition tips. In addition to that, at this point many elements of healthy living have become habits that I do almost automatically: working out, prepping and packing a healthy lunch and snacks, drinking enough water and getting enough sleep.

There’s always room for improvement, and right now I’m working on getting better at detaching from upsetting news or interpersonal conflict. My goal isn’t to stop caring (I believe we need to stay engaged in our communities just as we do in relationships), but rather to be able to take a break and come back to it with a fresh  perspective and renewed energy.

I think it’s important to always keep growing, evolving, and reflecting. This is part of the path I try to guide my clients on, in addition to supporting them in setting up those basic healthy habits so self-care becomes a given.

What is one thing that’s happened in your journey, or career as a health coach, that has made you a stronger person?

I’m still dealing with the biggest challenge I have faced so far, and that is infertility. It’s been the biggest lesson in recognizing and admitting that some things are beyond my control. After many twists and turns, spurts of hope followed by disappointment, it’s still not clear whether we will be able to bear children or whether our family will be completed through adoption. As we cope with this seemingly boundless uncertainty, I’ve tried to do my best to share openly about our journey and our struggles, knowing that there are many people out there dealing with infertility. The stigma that’s attached to it compounds how difficult it is to go through; not only is it heartbreaking and often medically/physically painful and draining, but then on top of that people feel like they can’t reach out to others for support because it’s a taboo subject to talk about. I have sometimes felt fear that people won’t want to work with me because I haven’t successfully “solved the problem” by becoming pregnant, but through sharing my vulnerability, imperfections, and fears I’ve connected with so many people I never would have met otherwise, because something I posted spoke to them. It’s really remarkable, and it’s been so worth it.

How do you suggest others get started in their own healthy living journeys?

Well, obviously I am hugely partial to working with a coach and plugging into a community! If what you’ve read here has spoken to you, please reach out to me! You can find my contact info on my website. But beyond that, Beachbody has an enormous network of coaches, with just about every possible focus, interest, and style you could imagine—and of course you can look beyond our programs as well, to different types of health coaching. A coach can help you get clear about your goals and get realistic about how to fit them into your life. It’s almost not even about the coach; it’s you that does the work, not the coach. But knowing you’ll be checking in daily or weekly with a coach or a supportive group can be an incredible source of motivation and, from what I’ve seen, can provide that push to nudge people out of inertia.

What is the biggest piece of advice you have for them?

 Don’t be afraid to invest in yourself! Sure, there are lots of free options for healthy living… going for walks, following videos you find on YouTube, looking up recipes on the internet. Those options may work great for you—but if they’re not working for you, get honest with yourself about whether they ever will. Don’t underestimate the power of putting some skin in the game. Many people take something more seriously once they’ve spent money on it. They don’t want to have wasted the money, so they make sure to follow through on the investment.

You could say I have an ulterior motive here because my programs cost money, but I also have an online wellness community where I spend a decent amount of time supporting people without them ever making a purchase. I believe Beachbody has the best workout videos—hands down—as well high-quality supplements and simple, powerful nutrition programs. That’s why I work with this company. But I believe the group support is the magic that pulls it all together and makes it so effective. The bottom line is that, although I’ve heard many people doubt the value of the services coaches provide, I absolutely think group programs and the services of a coach are worth investing in. They were one of the things that made the biggest difference for me, which was what made me want to start this business in the first place.

If you want to follow her on social media, here are her pages again: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Pinterest

Thank you so much, Elizabeth, for allowing me to interview you and post this here! I hope it reaches many people and helps them feel inspired and motivated to live a healthy life.

~Bonnie~