8 Ways to Work Out With Your Dog

I would choose an hour with my dog over the gym every day if I could, but on the days I do choose to skip my workouts for my rescue, I still make sure to stay active and get a good workout in. It’s good for me, it’s good for my boy, and it’s great for our family when we are all active and feeling our best.

Clyde sticks his tongue out to working out, loves it anyway.

The first thing we think about doing when we want to “work out” with our furry friends is running or walking. All dogs love a good walk, and it certainly keeps you moving and the blood flowing. However, there are a lot of ways to make your time even more active, or at least make a workout with Fido more fun than counting steps. Here’s a few different ways I’ve learned to workout with my dog and other furry friends!

Remember, every dog is different and if you’re getting your dog involved, make sure it’s safe for them too (so no deadlifting Spots!) at their health level. What I can do today with my 7 year old shepherd mix is a lot different than what I can do with my sister’s 3-year-old shepherd, and both even more different than what our 3-legged senior shepherd Troy can handle.

1. The Stop & Squat

This is the perfect add-in to a walk with your animal friend. Clyde is my 7-year-old shepherd-mix we rescued 2 years ago, and he loves to stop and smell all the smells. One of the simplest ways I’ll burn some extra calories with him is by adding in fun circuits to our daily walks. When he wants to stop for a sniff, I stop too and do squats until he’s done. Sure, my neighbors probably think I’m just a weird girl with a weirder dog, but my booty says otherwise!

2. Take a Hike!

My favorite way to stay active with the dog is to take him on long adventures down local trails, or sometimes we will make a day of it and drive out somewhere with mountains, mud, and solitude! Hiking is one of our favorite activities and ways to workout, and we try to keep it going year round. It’s not something you can do in all types of weather, but it can be breathtaking to adventure through nature in all seasons and take it all in. Plus it keeps you guys moving and working hard!

3. The Scenic Route

Not all my hiking adventures are what you think of when you think about taking a hike. Sometimes I prefer a walk down a local beaten trail with some beautiful views surrounded by nature. Keep up quick strides to bump up the cardio or add in some jogging/running too! I like the use this time for meditation and mindfulness too.

4. Belly Rub Planks

This is a great workout with your dog on a rainy day at home. Does your pet love belly rubs? Have them roll over, then lay down facing their belly. Take a plank position, then raise one arm to pet the pup! Rest back on both arms when you need to, and start up again with your other arm. It’s a really silly but challenging way to work out with your dog and be his/her favorite human.

5. Sit Up and Shake

If your dog has the patience and knows how to shake paws with you, have them sit in front of your feet (or on them would be even better!), and let them give you their paw every time you sit up. Think of it like a high five! Clyde is actually trained to raise his paw to your open hand with the command, “High Five!” but no matter what command you use, it’s sure to be fun, and your dog will feel so lucky to be included!

Got a kisser? Snag a smooch every time you sit up! How sweet.

6. Sprints and Chase

When I say sprints and chase, I am not talking about your regular old running routine; chase them around, hop over the branches and bushes, take sharp turns, stop to watch him pant, then start again! Play with your dog, if you’ve got an active one, just running short sprints around the yard trying to catch him or his favorite toy. My older dog and now angel Callie girl loved this game!

7. Play Ball

Whether your dog is a chaser or catcher, you can burn calories running around and throwing the ball around the backyard or your local park. If you’ve got a fast dog, try to keep up or race them for the ball!

8. Tug Rope

I don’t care if you have a big dog or small dog, but if you’ve got one that isn’t going to let go of the rope, I bet this will be a great workout for you! Troy the Tripod still always wins with just 3 legs and 11 years practice!

However you choose to incorporate your dog into a workout routine, you won’t regret the extra time spent with them and the serotonin boost their energy will bring you! If you can get into a habit of working out with the dog regularly, they could be the most inspiring workout buddy you could have. What would you do if you found out your dog liked working out with you? Unlike that annoying friend you’re always turning down, you’ll never be able to say no to your furry family!

3 Rules for Healthier, Supportive Weight Loss Talks

by: Danielle Ternyila

The way we talk about our weight has changed so much in my family over the years, and it has definitely been a change for the better. Weight seemed like such a private matter, and it could be considered rude to discuss or hurtful. That’s the way we all are used to thinking, but I think that’s only holding us back.

My mom and I, for example, have regular conversations about our health, and I don’t mean just updates on doctors appointments out of curiosity. We talk about recipes, we talk new healthy cooking hacks and swap ideas, brainstorm new workout routines when I get in a rut, celebrate our successes weekly or even daily… Health is not an “bad” topic in our family, even when we fall off the wagon and haven’t been making the healthiest choices; those times are most important to communicate so we can get help and motivation to keep going.

That said, there are a few important ways the conversations have changed that make these most beneficial to us. Use these 3 tips to have more positive discussions around weight and our health, whether in our families, friendship circles, or an online support group of like-minded friends. Here’s a few rules to keep it positive:

Judgement Is Not Invited

The discussions we have aren’t judgmental; they are supportive and encouraging. We do our best to compliment each other and celebrate wins, as well as help overcome the battles and struggles along the way too. It feels a lot more possible and real in your mind when you have a team of support behind you, starting with your family or those closest to you. When there is no judgement or feel of embarrassment, the conversations are better all around and more productive.

This is most important on the bad days especially. We need to be supportive of each other, and so whether we are having a bad day or our friend is having a bad week, those are the most important times to hold all judgement. Things happen, life can change, and it’s okay to not be perfect all the time. Just support one another all the same.

Honesty Supports Succcess

If the whole idea of positive health talk in your family is new, everyone has to start somewhere. It can be hard and feel personal to talk about your weight, and it can feel really hard to admit your inner thoughts, even to the most cherished loved one. However, you need to know you are in a supportive environment and can say anything without judgement. Be honest and don’t tell lies about your journey.

The only person you are doing a disservice to when you lie about your health is you. Think about that! Whether your doctor, your mom, or your significant other knows you’re still eating junk food, skipping the gym, or lying about your weight, you’re only hurting yourself at the end of the day. Use honesty and their support to help motivate you in your weight loss endeavors.

Share And Learn As You Go

Not only has this completely shaped the way our family talks about health, but I think the biggest impact has been sharing everything we’ve learned as we go. My sister will call me with a new healthy cooking hack, my mom will email me a new recipe, my dad will unwillingly sign me up for a 5k at random. Not only do we support each other, but we can provide more support for one another when we are involved. Even if I can’t go to the gym with my mom due to conflicting schedules and I can’t have dinner with my sister every day, we still share our successes and lessons so we can all benefit from it.

No matter what, taking any steps, big or small, toward achieving your weight loss goals is going to push you further along. Having support from home or around you changes your own mindset and helps you believe in yourself.

Not to mention, there are so many benefits to having a workout buddy too! It doesn’t have to be about sharing your own journey with someone on the same path. If there is anyone you can talk to about your weight and health goals, it should be your gym buddy, and if you don’t have one yet, there’s too many reasons why you should.

Health Tips for Holiday Feasts and Festivities

by: Danielle Ternyila

It’s about to become the most sugary time of year, and not just because of the sugar plum fairies dancing in our heads. We all know with the holidays comes junk food, delicious treats, and too many side dishes. Losing weight, or maintaining, can be incredibly challenging for these reasons, as well as all the additional events and celebrations. Spending more time with family and friends often goes hand-in-hand with overindulging.

Since my weight loss journey began, I have held myself accountable even during the holidays. After a few years of giving it my all, I have a few lessons to share that can make your life easier and your plate lighter. Whether it is just making smarter decisions around the table or putting in some extra effort, your health can get through Halloween candy, Thanksgiving dinners, and all the end-of-year celebrations unscathed (somewhat).

1. Pack It Up

The first rule of eating healthy out is to just bring your own food! It can feel really “extra,” but there are a number of smart ways to do this! I get it; why cook your own dinner if you’re going out to eat with your friends or family? It is, however, the easiest way to avoiding the extra calories and fats.

For smaller scale events with friends, I will pack myself my own meal if there are plans to eat dinner together or such. Yes, that means awkwardly walking into a party with my own Tupperware (I recommend glass for easy reheating in the microwave!) and eating my chicken, rice, and veggies while everyone else enjoys the big pot of pasta and garlic bread. Do I ever look back and regret not eating that pasta though? Nope!

Instead of bringing your dinner plate, you can also bring your own desserts! I have a problem with gluten, which is typically the main ingredient in most treats (brownies and cookies and cakes, oh my!). To avoid these temptations, I bring fruit with a dip most of the time. My go-to is pistachio dip, and by bringing this or some gluten-free cookies along, I’m not only a great guest, but I’m doing great at prioritizing my health too!

2. Bake Smart

The internet is a beautiful thing; it gives you access to some incredible recipes, some thousands or millions of them, that is! Search for healthy recipes, and you will find plenty to scroll through. However, there are some simple swaps you can do with most recipes to make it healthier without having to reinvent the wheel.

Have a cookie recipe you just love? Swap the flour for some almond flour. Consider replacing eggs with apple sauce in a recipe to lower cholesterol, fat, and sugar. Use dark chocolate instead of milk or white, and research sugar alternatives; stevia, for one, is a natural sweetener without all the calories, emphasis on natural!

3. Greek Yogurt Is The New Cauliflower

This is the most genius food to hit supermarkets, if you ask me! I always have some in my fridge because I use it regularly, and not to just eat with a spoon. I’ll freeze my favorite flavors for a yogurt-based ice cream, or I’ll scoop a dollop onto my tacos to act as sour cream. It is easy to substitute for many things, and when you’re using the right flavors, you will never taste the difference.

Did you know? You can use Greek yogurt to replace butter, sour cream, heavy cream, and mayonnaise in most recipes? Paired with the right food, you would never notice the difference. It’s like cauliflower – we’ve replaced pizza crusts, chicken nuggets, and even pasta with this super healthy alternative that takes flavor of whatever is mixed with it. Greek yogurt is just as versatile!

I have swapped out some key ingredients for Greek yogurt and served it to friends and family. I’ve replaced the sour cream with plain non-fat Greek yogurt without them knowing the wiser, used it in chicken salad to replace the mayo, and even baked it into desserts; this should be a whole food group of its own with all the possibilities that come with it. My favorite recipe lately is to use it for 2-ingredient bagels! (All it takes is Greek yogurt and self-rising flour, or a gluten-free alternative flour with yeast!)

4. Talk Yourself Up

This sounds superficial, but there’s a method to the madness. Tell your family and friends about your diet, your journey, your successes and failures. Brag about your health accomplishments as much as you brag about your child doing something hard. Make it known that you are conquering your health goals. When you do, you’ll be much less tempted to indulge because everyone will be watching you; you told them all you’re behaving on your diet, so why would you want to be caught cheating an hour later?

It’s also really nice to have a support system behind you, which is why you should be telling everyone about your journey, or your closest family and friends at the very least. The more people you tell, the more there are to hold you accountable. Even if they don’t say anything, you will think twice about picking up an extra slice of pie because you don’t want to let them down now either since telling them your big plans.

5. Make Realistic Plates

If your holidays are anything like mine, you and your 40 closest family members will be jumping in line to wait for all the delicious food, and you all will fill your plates to the brim! Be realistic. You only need so much food for 1 meal, so it’s super easy to overindulge this time of year, especially after waiting so long on that line to finally get in front of the stuffing and mac-n-cheese!

When I finally get here, I make a realistic plate for myself; I don’t put anything on it that I know I won’t enjoy; I avoid “empty calories”, which is what I call foods that don’t provide any real nutritional-value. At my holiday parties, that’s usually the dinner rolls, pasta, fried mozzarella sticks, and all that deliciousness. Next, I focus on vegetables and meats and fill my plate with those first, then I’ll see how full my plate is before I add anything else. I stick away from anything fried or coated in cheese, and I eat it all slowly once I sit down.

Why eat slow? Your body can’t break down food as fast as you’re chewing it down, and it hardly gives you the opportunity to enjoy and appreciate your meal. You should also give yourself realistic time between helpings, too! Going back for seconds? Give your body 20 minutes to digest what you just ate first because by then, you might already be full! We tend to eat faster than our stomachs, and that leads to overeating.

6. Get Active First

I don’t regret any of the Christmas or Thanksgiving days that I started in the gym, as much as you think you might. Some gyms have limited morning hours to plan around, but even if you just go for a jog in your neighborhood before the festivities or take your dog to the park for a bit, you’ll feel great, you’ll feel strong, and you will not feel weak when the treats come out.

I recommend getting active before you celebrate for several reasons. You’re going to feel happier, lighter, and more confident by working in a sweat before the day begins. Exercise boosts your metabolism, so you can burn more calories during the day. It enhances your self discipline, so you really are more likely to stay strong against grandma’s cookies. It sets the tone for a healthier day!

More than that, a 30-60 minute workout is sure to give you more energy throughout the day, which is never bad on a busy holiday! Regulate your hormones and appetite with a little activity. That’s only 2‐3% of your day! It is too easy.

7. Love Yourself First

All-in-all it is most important to put yourself and your health first, but it’s just as important, if not more, to love and forgive yourself. We all mess up. No one is perfect, and if you slip up, eat bad, or overindulge on your Halloween candy and turkey dinner, remember you are human. Tomorrow is always a new day to begin again!

Why Not Every One Loves Working Out

by: Danielle Ternyila

If you don’t enjoy working out, you’re doing it wrong. And yes, it IS that easy. If you’re not enjoying working out, you’re just doing it wrong!

Getting into exercising is not as hard as it seems once you find something you love. When you love what you’re doing, you’re going to enjoy it. That’s just fact, but you have to find what you love in the gym; you can’t just call it a day after forcing out an hour on the treadmill.

For me, my fitness journey really started by trying everything available in my gym, which was the best decision I ever made. They had a lot of different classes, so I was able to go and pop in to these weekly and try them out, whether it was yoga, cycling, Zumba, or HIIT (high-intensity interval training), even boxing and trainers who always had great advice when asked. I really didn’t have any experience working out since I never even went to a gym before, so it wasn’t until I started trying all these different workouts that I was able to love working out.

It really did take a while though, and it took a lot of trial and error. It was essential to be open to new experiences, even though I was definitely nervous stepping into a Zumba or CrossFit class, but in the end I ended up finding what I loved. While CrossFit was something that I really enjoyed doing, especially the competitive part of it and how everyday was something new, I also learned that my body was not able to do such intense workouts. I need to keep my heart rate down, so slower workouts are for me. I wouldn’t have learned that if I didn’t try it first, though!

Finding what I actually enjoyed doing in the gym made it my happy place, and now I am able to find the right gyms that best accommodate my routines (like having the right hours because I more often go at night or having multiple locations because I’m always on the go!) I rely on it not only to workout for my health but when I’m stressed or could use a pick-me-up.

I challenge you to try new things and dare to fall in love with the process. Get out of your comfort zone. There are so many programs available for you to try right from your home even! Beach body, for example, offers a number of online programs you can try from home, or you can always check out classes on your nearby gym’s schedule. Try to visit a friend’s gym and try their routine, or drop into a fitness fundraising event! I fell in love with barre classes after stopping in one that a charity was hosting to raise money.

My First Barre Class in 2018

Don’t forget, no one in the gym is watching you! Read more about why the gym may be the safest place from judgement!

Multi-Tasking Is the New Cardio

by: Terry Ternyila

I am a multi-tasker by nature. I have a hard time doing one thing at a time. If I am watching a TV show I
am usually checking emails or ordering my food shopping online. I keep flossing sticks in my car so I can
floss while driving and I usually catch up with my mom or friends on the phone on my way home from
work so the drive doesn’t feel like a waste.

I sometimes find it hard to just set aside a half hour or hour to just do exercise. In my busy day, that time
just seems to always go to other tasks that need to get done in my day. So I have found ways to add
some of my exercise into my daily routines. Breaking them into smaller sets and working them around
my tasks I already do make it easier to keep to a daily commitment.

When we went into quarantine for Covid, I realize my steps dropped to almost nothing while working
from home, so I started a little bathroom challenge with myself. Every time I went to the bathroom, I would do a set of exercises like wall pushups, squats, or dips off the tub.

It was great and I realized sometimes I would be getting in 100 squats or pushups in a day because I
spread them out all day. I started to use other time like brushing my teeth or being on a conference call to bring in my exercises. I keep small hand weights by my desk at home so if I am listening to a call I can work my arms one at a time. I will do squats while folding laundry into the basket or lunges down the
hallway to bring the basket to the bedroom.

Even in the car, when I get stopped at a red light I will squeeze my cheeks until the light turns green. Same for waiting on line at a store. People can’t tell you are doing it and really tightens up the muscles. It really becomes a challenge for yourself to see where you can find room in your daily routine to do a
little exercise.

I love finding new places to sneak some exercise into my day. My newest spot is when I go tanning I try to find new things I can do in the booth. Depending if it’s a lay down or stand up, I have come up with some creative things I can do in a small spots for my 12 minutes. Doing these exercises throughout the
day also helps keep me focused on my eating and water intake. Get creative see how you can add exercise to your day…..

Or as Danielle would call it: free cardio

No One in the Gym Is Watching You

by: Danielle Ternyila

Let’s be real. When you’ve never stepped foot in a gym, or you just aren’t a regular [yet], it can be so intimidating! But why? The whole place is filled with mirrors because everyone is too busy looking at themselves. It’s the one place I’m sure no one is thinking about anyone else. Afterall, they are there because they want to grow! They want to get stronger. They can’t do that, and nor should you, by paying attention to every one around you.

When I joined my first gym in 2016, I was so nervous that everyone was watching me and judging my lack of coordination. It was nerve wracking to try something new because I has no idea what I was doing, and so I was sure everyone around me would know it. Forget the weights section! It was filled with muscle and men, all of which I was not.

The truth is, no one is watching you. No one is paying attention to how many or how little reps you do, they’re not focused on your form and wondering why you’re even there. I only ever had one person approach me in the gym about a workout I was doing, and it was someone who had no idea how to use the machine I was using. She asked me how!

It isn’t easy to stop caring what others think, but the gym is the last place anyone will pay attention to you. Everyone around you paid money to be there. They carved out time to be there from their day doing who knows what, and they are there to focus on themselves and their growth. It’s the only place I feel like no one will judge me. And if anyone should know what it’s like to start at the bottom and everything feels knew, it is everyone at the gym who did not come out of the womb doing sit-ups and hammer curls and got their start in a gym like you.

I always figured, if I’m doing something that wrong, they’d better tell me before I hurt myself and not judge me. If they’d rather laugh at me then help, I shouldn’t care what that person has to think anyway!

Make the gym your happy place. Find workouts you love. Try tons of new activities and classes until you do. Blast your music, hum to it if you want to! Don’t feel embarrassed when you make weird noises [or fall off the stairmaster]. Nike says it best; just do it!

Put yourself [your body and your health] first. Life is too short to not give it your best shot. The only one you’re cheating is yourself if you don’t.

Aim for One More Rep

When you are doing hard things like a push-up or plank, what signs indicate to you when you’re ‘done’? Are you listening to your mind or your body when you stop? Things are always going to feel hard, and when they do, your mind will want to give up as quickly as it can! Your mind gives up before your body, which is why you should try to challenge yourself to do one more rep, even when you think you can’t.

I am constantly reminded of this when I plank. I generally plank for 1 minute (having built up to that overtime), but I’ve learned to listen to what my body can do. Any time I plank, it’s still hard, and I want to quit. I start getting that idea, the thought that I’ve done enough, that my arms are on fire, my abs in pain. That I can’t do it anymore. That is my mind telling me to quit, but more often than not I’m able to get in more than a few spare seconds when I push myself.

Exercise is always uncomfortable and hard and a challenge for anyone, so of course your mind wants you to stop! It’s in those few extra seconds in your plank, or after that one more rep even though your mind is telling you to quit, that you will find what your body is capable of.

Next time you are doing hard things, make sure you push yourself! Just one more rep when you think you can’t, another few seconds on that plank when you think you might drop. What’s the worst that could happen?

During the month of June, we are supporting the American Cancer Society and National Cancer Survivor Month by pushing ourselves to do 50 squats a day. Push yourself to do another rep! I do 51-52 a day because I always want to achieve more than I set out to. Always add one more rep!