How getting in shape is like dog training. Part 1

You’re probably thinking “Seriously?  That’s a stretch!”  But it’s true.  Let me tell you how.

The last time I was in good physical shape was probably about 20 years ago.  When I was in school!  There have been a couple of times since then when I’ve been at an appropriate weight.  One of those times  I was even doing a lot of walking, so I guess I was in pretty decent shape, that was in 1999.  Then I moved to the US and my whole lifestyle changed, and not in a good way.

I’m not old, (unless you happen to be 16 and reading this, then I’m positively ancient!) but the big 4-0 is hanging out there, not too far off, and being female, I’m feeling a little sensitive towards it.  All of those self-doubts that plague us start digging in and you wonder “What have I done with my life?”.  The concept of being fat and forty was NOT something I wanted to consider, and we all know that the older you are, the harder it is to get those extra pounds off.  Over the years the pounds had started to add up, and when you have sweet tooth as strong as mine you generally end up with big hips.  I know I can blame about 10lbs on the Denny’s Cinnamon Swirl Slam they were serving back then.  A further 15-20lb on a long course of steroids I was on a couple of years ago.  I should probably give credit where credit is due and give a nod to The Chocolatier in downtown Bloomington too.

I don’t think I would have really thought much of it but last year I had a life changing event.  I broke my leg.  Six months after the break we found that the leg had never healed properly so I had to go in and have a steel plate installed.  My entire 2012 was pretty much wiped out.  It sucked.  It sucked having to lug my fat body around on one leg.  My upper body strength was nil, my abdominal muscles lay unused for years were suddenly being abused.

During the several months of rehab after the initial break, before we found out that it hadn’t healed properly, a good friend had recommended working with a personal trainer to get the last 2-3% of mobility back.  Initially all I cared about was being able to walk down stairs without having to shuffle, but strangely I started to enjoy the warped abuse that this hard task master heaped on me 2-3 times a week.

Exercise? Nope, not me.  I’m a lazy bum.  I’m just doing this to fix my leg.  I want to be able to walk down stairs, that’s all.  Really!

Premack Principle anyone?  Premack’s Principle suggests that if a person wants to perform a given activity, the person will perform a less desirable activity to get at the more desirable activity.

Hmmm.  Early evidence suggests that there may be correlations between getting in shape and dog training.

Copper and I do agility.  He’s a very fast dog, over the years we’ve worked on a deal.  He holds a short duration sit stay (long enough for me to get out ahead of him) and then he can start jumping and the real fun begins.  He’d much rather be running and jumping, but he has learned that breaking his stay will not lead to sustained running and jumping.  It will only lead to us leaving.  So he waits until I release him from the start line.

Premack’s Principle suggests that if a person wants to perform a given activity, the person will perform a less desirable activity to get at the more desirable activity.

Yep.  Definitely a correlation.

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