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Archive for the ‘health’ Category

We’re coming out of the hibernation season, out of the short night cycles that entice us to sleep and eat and hope the animals will cooperate. Some of us are truly great role models, keeping the fitness program going for the animals and the humans, reducing the amount of food to compensate for the reduction of exercise, or finding a way to exercise the dogs in the tall snow we have here in Illinois……but I am not one of those people. Now that the days are a little longer and I have a little more energy, I’m usually inspired to take stock and make plans for my year.

It’s a really good time to do the same for your animals. Take a week and log or journal everything you do with your animals. Write down everything you feed them and all the supplements you give them. You may be surprised at what you find.

This is not an activity to do while sitting in a chair thinking about it. You do it AS you do it….after you let the dogs out and they come back in one minute to watch you fix breakfast – that was their morning exercise. What you really put in the bowl – measure it after you dump the food in, eyeballing the amount. A cup? Maybe it was more, maybe it was less. The supplements AS you do them, not what you wrote on a grease-covered index card taped to the wall (my house). Your afternoon walk with the dogs….was that an hour or was that 20 minutes? Was that every day, as planned, or twice a week? In fitness terms, reduced exercise can result in loss of muscle and can affect general health, especially for the older set. By the end of the week your tattered records should provide material for you to evaluate.

Be warned: as soon as you start keeping track you will do better. This is a phenomenon in behavior modification programs that’s inevitable. I used to do this at the beginning of a diet, evaluating how many times I ate when I thought about eating. As soon as your awareness of the topic increases, your attention to action increases too. That’s ok. It can give you a jump-start to your new, improved, 2010 plan.

While you’re at it, dig up notes you may have, recommendations made by veterinarians or consultants over 2009, plans you made, programs you began – how did they go? What was successful and what fell off the list almost as soon as you put it on?

What supplements were you planning on giving? Do you remember what they were for? Look over your calendar from the last year and see what you did. Too much? Too little? What would you change? Easy to keep doing the same thing, but life changes and our animals change, and we do too.

I planned to do an acupressure massage on all my dogs twice a week. In reality, last winter the Ancient One got all the massage, because he had the greatest need. I was also sleeping on the floor with him and hauling him down the stairs with the help of a swim vest, and we were very tired. The girls got….not much. Maybe I was overly ambitious?? Woody is gone now, and they still need the massage. It’s a good plan to include for this year if I can.

Food drifts in amazing ways. Maybe you stuck to the great protein rotation you planned. Or maybe all that’s in your freezer is beef and chicken because it was too much trouble to do anything else. If you use commercial foods, did you change anything during the year? Did you see weight gain or loss? Have you looked closely at those labels? Your home made food plan deserves to be evaluated very closely. One place it’s easy to go astray is with recreational bones – anything to keep the furballs happy and quiet! Those calories really add up. For a while, glucosamine sulfate fell off the program at my house. The jar was empty and got thrown away before I opened a new one and….I forgot. If you’re lucky you won’t find anything like that!

When the week is over, and you have great notes about your daily life and your pet’s diets, and your records and ideas from the last year, you’ll have all the pieces you need to make a great plan for 2010.

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