IT’S A MARATHON, NOT A SPRINT (LITERALLY)

Last Fall I found myself in the worst fitness shape I’d been in since college. I was busy, I didn’t have room in my budget for a gym membership, and in my little bits of free time I prioritized seeing my friends over exercising. I never thought of myself as someone who would “fall off the wagon” when it came to taking care of myself – but I had, and it was bad.

Then one day I decided to attend a workout put on by a free fitness movement called the November Project. Despite it being 6:30 am on a Friday, I really enjoyed the workout. The group meets three times a week, and I showed up the following Monday, then the following Wednesday, and even the next Friday. Today I am happy to say that I consistently attend those 6:30 workouts three times a week all over the city (which is going to produce a whole post on motivating a learner to increase behavior!). I am in the best shape I’ve been in since college!

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While I have come a very long way since the day I started, I still find myself discounting my progress. I watch the friends I’ve made, many of whom started around the same time I did, getting faster and faster, while I feel like my pace is staying the same. I beat myself up when I struggle during the workouts because these shouldn’t be this hard anymore. I wonder how the heck I am ever going to complete the marathon I’m signed up for in October. I get frustrated and angry when I can’t keep up with my peers. I’m used to being someone who stays positive and motivated by progress, so these doubts can be really discouraging.

Then I think back to something my mama brought up one time I had a conflict that I needed help managing (because moms always know best). She asked, “Well, what would you tell your clients to do in this situation?” This might sound funny, because dog training and someone’s personal life aren’t really the same, right? Actually, you’d be surprised at the overlap (or maybe you’re not surprised because you’ve been reading his blog, ha!).

In this instance, I remembered all those times I told my clients – or maybe adopters, or first time foster parents, or just any dog owner – to manage their expectations as they work towards their goal. “Don’t let one bad experience ruin the loads of progress you’ve made,” I tell them. “You’ve come too far to let this small step back keep you from being proud of your accomplishments.”

My heart breaks when my clients come to a session discouraged because their reactive dog had an outburst yesterday, after so many weeks of doing so well! So we talk about what their dog was like on day one. We reminisce about how every walk was a nightmare, how they were at their wits’ end, how their household was full of stress. Then we look back at the most recent incident – the dog barked, maybe lunged a bit, and the owner stayed calm, got the dog’s attention back, kept moving, and everyone recovered quickly. It’s like night and day from where they started, even though in the moment it didn’t feel like it.

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Progress doesn’t happen overnight. It also doesn’t go away overnight. Journeys like working with a reactive dog, or conquering separation anxiety, or improving your mile time, are all works in progress that have their ups and downs. When I start to doubt myself and my fitness progress, I remind myself of how far I’ve come. Then I give myself some good old positive reinforcement to keep myself motivated, and I head out for my next run – just like the dog owner who grabs the treat pouch and heads out for their next walk.

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Being the Change: Jasmine’s House Inc.

Rescue groups are similar to the dogs we help: there are so many of them, all amazing in their own way – but there is always one that stands out to you; one that you connect with. For me, Jasmine’s House was this group. Their mission is so deeply rooted in a passion for saving pit bull type dogs that with every single dog they take in, they help make the world a better place. They have so much knowledge and understanding of what dogs need to heal, and time after time they give dogs a chance who may not have had one otherwise.  But their impact goes deeper than that still.

Jasmine’s House is spreading their mission to the public by engaging strangers in thought: what change do you wish to see in the world? It’s a tough question to ask yourself, and an even tougher question to find the answer to. You’ll discover, though, that when you and many others start to think about it, an unimaginable amount of diverse and brilliant ideas come up. Jasmine’s House is really on to something with this, sparking inspiration and motivation every time they pose the question. See for yourself:

photo from facebook.com/jhrescue

photo from facebook.com/jhrescue

photo from facebook.com/jhrescue

Because honestly, what change do we imagine for this world? Everyone has a different answer to this, and of course none of them are more correct than the others. It’s just a question people should ask themselves once in a while to at the very least reignite passion for a cause. After all, “Nothing great in the world has ever happened without passion” (-Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel).

Remembering why we do what we do can help during those times we feel burnt out or we question our efforts. It can help when trying to convince others of the change that’s needed. It helps to focus our intent and better our efforts. So thank you, Jasmine’s House, for making me step back and ask myself, “If I could have this world any way I want, what would it be?” There are so many answers that come to mind that it’s impossible to choose just one. But for now:

What type of world do you imagine?

Read more about Jasmine’s House and the work they do on their website, and see more brilliant “I Imagine” pictures on their Facebook page.