Weight Loss: One Smart Way
One day I was out taking a walk and I almost walked by one of my daughter’s teachers walking her dog without recognizing her. It was not until she spoke to me and I heard her voice that I recognized her. She had retired the year before and the woman I’d always known as a rather frumpy shapeless woman was now dressed in smartly casual clothes and had lost considerable weight.
When I marveled at her transformation she told me, “My doctor has been on my case for years to exercise but he never told me to get a dog. Now I take several walks everyday and I have not felt this good in years.” She went on to tell me that the weight loss had caused some chronic health conditions to improve and that if she had felt this good before she retired she would have continued working because she did miss the children.
Most of my books and classes focus on learning to use one’s mind in beneficial ways to reduce stress and make life more enjoyable. I prefer to focus on a direct approach, but if you like dogs, this approach has a lot of benefits.
- A pet of any kind can reduce stress. A dog is especially good at this because dogs know how to love unconditionally. Dogs will cuddle with you, play with you, and give you something positive to focus on (other than their occasional messes). There is research demonstrating that people who have pets have lower stress levels. Why is lower stress good for weight loss? The old paradigm for weight loss has been overturned by newer scientific findings.
- Physical activity is a dose dependent method of stress reduction. It is dose dependent because it does not eliminate the root cause of the stress, but it does improve mood. One of the reasons physical activity alone, or any dose dependent stress management technique, is not the best way to manage stress is that significant numbers of people won’t do them when they are toostressed. Dose dependent stress management techniques fail when they are needed the most. A dog helps on two fronts. First, you have to walk the dog. If you don’t, it can get messy. Secondly, the dog has a way of improving your mood with cute antics when it needs a walk.
- Changing your focus–what you’re paying attention to–can greatly reduce your stress level. A dog provides a frequent distraction from any troubles you’re ruminating about. Negative rumination is a habit it is well worth changing, but until you do, a dog helps lessen the time spent feeling worried, regretful, fearful, and other lower emotional states.
- Dogs provide great examples of what life is like when you trust that things will work out for you.
- Your social network is one of your best defenses against depression (if they’re positively focused). Dogs get you out of the house so you may actually meet and get to know your neighbors. If there is a dog park nearby or just an open field, you may make friends there with whom you share a common interest. You’ve already got one that is easy to identify–your pet.
- Some people feel required to finish the food on their plate and keep eating even after they are satisfied. Others will eat anything their children leave on their plate, too. Your dog will be happy to consume these unneeded calories for you. (Make sure you know which foods are okay for your pet and which ones are hazardous to dog’s health.)
- Comfort foods are often a weight management nightmare for the large number of people who turn to food to comfort themselves. Petting your dog instead of eating comfort food when you’re stressed provides two benefits. One is that you don’t feel bad later about having eating something you really did not want. The second is that petting your dog often lowers the stress you’re feeling and makes whatever is troubling you seem like a smaller problem.
- Dogs (and cats) seem to sense our moods and may provide extra comfort when we feel down, which may be exactly what we need.
Can you think of other ways your pet helps you reduce stress and lose weight?
The link between chronic stress and obesity is strong. Stress disrupts many healthy functions in the body, including digestive function. Our society tolerates (or copes with) much higher levels of stress than are healthy for us. Stress can cause weight gain even with no change in the diet because of its adverse impact on the digestive function.
A dog lowers your stress and increases exercise, which can also lower stress. If your life allows for it, consider getting a dog in the New Year. The holidays are not generally a good time to bring a new pet into the home because there is already so much going on. However, if you’re having a solo holiday or you don’t celebrate the holidays think about adding a furry friend to your life now.
If you don’t want (or can’t have) a dog now, look for other ways to reduce stress in your life. My books provide skill based techniques that help you change your automatic responses to stressors in ways that reduce your stress.
For more techniques on defusing stressful thoughts so you can relax and enjoy life more , try one of my books.
I really appreciate that you are reading my post and hope it provided value to you. On LinkedIn, I regularly write about Happiness, Stress Reduction, Human Thriving, Primary Prevention, Health and Wellness, and more. If you would like to read my regular posts then please click ‘Follow’ (at the top of the page) and feel free to also connect with me via Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads. Please consider sharing this information with your network. If you found it valuable, they may also find value in what I have written.
Here are other posts I have written for LinkedIn Pulse:
- What to Say When You Don’t Know What to Say
- Could your Company be Liable for Stress-Related Illnesses and Deaths of Employees?
- Does Employee Retention & Motivation Keep You Awake at Night?
- The Key Ingredient Your Corporate Wellness Program Needs is Missing
- One Good Way to Change a Deeply Depressed Mood
- Are You Hoping Your Anger Punishes the Person You’re Angry With?
- No Matter Where You Go, There You Are
- Have you said something nice today?
- Happiness and Stress are two ends of the same Continuum
- Is Happiness Wrong? What Do You Think?
- The Future of Health Care: True Prevention
- Workplace Bullying: Healthy Workplace Legislation
- Empathy or Better?
- Employee Stress, Employer Risk?
- Could Anger Derail your Career?…from Coach to Defensive Coordinator?
- Stress Kills:Happiness Heals
- Irresponsible Media Kills Teens
- Ray Rice: What Do We Really Want?
- Calling, Career, or Job: does it matter?
- Does Stress Destroy Your Holidays?
- Are Your Thoughts Lying to You?
- Do You Ever Worry That Someone You Care About Will Harm Him or Her Self?
- Are You an Adult?
- Prevent Suicide: The Smart Way
- Give Yourself the Gift of Forgiveness this Holiday Season
I wish for you many blissings. (Blissings = blissful blessings)
About : Jeanine Joy Jeanine Joy is an inspiring and life-changing author, speaker, and scholar. The purpose of her life is to seek out knowledge that increases human thriving, create explanations and processes that provide practical ways for individuals adopt strategies that enhance their lives. Her programs, books, and speeches empower people to fulfill their dreams and enjoy more loving, happy, and successful lives. Her ultimate goal is to help create a better world for everyone on Earth.
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