A few weekends ago, my husband and I took all four of our dogs on a hike. At two o’clock in the afternoon, we arrived at Mohonk Preserve to meet up with family and had about three hours of …
A few weekends ago, my husband and I took all four of our dogs on a hike. At two o’clock in the afternoon, we arrived at Mohonk Preserve to meet up with family and had about three hours of daylight left to complete it. We got all of the dogs leashed up and started on our way. As the hike went on, I realized something that at first I didn’t expect, but should have all along.
All four of our dogs are very different. Three of them are goldendoodles and one is a bernedoodle. They all have their own athletic strengths and weaknesses, despite being similar types of dogs. I expected Baxter, one of the goldendoodles, to do the best on the hike because he always has the most stamina on our walks, and will play in the yard for hours on end.
I wasn’t sure how Brady, the bernedoodle, would do, as he doesn’t love to exercise and he definitely got the stubborn Bernese Mountain Dog gene.
As we started on the trail, Baxter was doing a very good job of staying in the middle and walking with my brother-in-law. I had Brady, and to my surprise, Brady wanted to lead the pack. He was so excited to be out in the woods and wanted to be the first one up the mountain.
At home, Brady can be shy around people he doesn’t know. It can take him a long time to warm up to people, especially men. As we were hiking, Brady wanted to say hello to every single person we passed. He kindly moved in their direction, and some of them accepted his invitation for a pet. Brady wanted to become best friends with all of the men, women, and children alike.
Baxter continued to surprise me. As we got to steeper parts of the hike, he was a little bit nervous when choosing which rock to jump up onto next. Brady had no issues whatsoever and charged his way right up the mountain. Baxter wasn’t interested in the other people, when he is usually the most social one in the pack. Baxter had plenty of energy and stamina to complete the hike, but he didn’t look full of life like Brady did.
As the hike went on, I realized that we had never taken Brady on a challenging hike like that before. I was even more impressed with his performance now that I realized it was his first hike.
Then I remembered that he is mostly a Bernese Mountain Dog, and in their nature, they are built to carry heavy loads for long distances and work well in the woods. Hiking is an activity that fits well into who he is and what he enjoys.
We aren’t much different than the example my dogs showed me on our hike. While all four of my dogs are roughly the same size and similar breeds, they all showed up very differently in this form of exercise.
The same happens for us. There are going to be forms of exercise or parts of life that feel like they come naturally to us. Most likely, we will also enjoy these things much more than exercise that feels very challenging every time we do it.
It’s okay to choose the exercise that makes you feel like Brady on our hike - alive, energized, and excited. We often feel like we need to force ourselves to do things that we don’t enjoy. Challenge yourself to put this belief down for a moment and remember that it’s okay to get better at the things that we are already good at.
Exercise shouldn’t be a punishment and it shouldn’t feel like it. Take some time to figure out what makes you feel excited and do more of that.
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