With the Conservation Fitness Program, I do tend to focus on the Eating Green side. But fitness isn’t one sided. Nutrition, exercise, and wellness habits work in harmony to help us achieve our fitness goals.

Since exercise is an important component to fitness, I figured I could spend a little bit of time talking about it. 

This morning I hosted my Sloth Army running group as I normally do. But it was raining and not in a pleasant, refreshing way. So I decided to introduce my group to ZooFit Games as a easy, fun workout. We played ZooFit Memory, which utilizes my animal exercise cards and works your brain along with your body.

Ironically, we also had a special guest with us during our workout. A reporter from the local newspaper was interested in the Sloth Army and wanted to do a small story on it. I didn’t plan the workout based on our guest, but I was pleased with the way it worked out.

We stayed at the picnic shelter and I chose 10 animal cards to play. Frog hops, peacock jacks, sea lion jacks, rhino charges, elephants can’t jump, dolphin jumps, stingray shuffle, stork walks, giraffe reach-downs, and flamingo squats. We all took turns finding matches and performing the exercises. It worked our brain as much as our bodies because we were trying to remember where we had seen previous matches on the game board. Of course, as we played, it got a little easier as we took matched cards out of play.

I have several different levels of fitness attending Sloth Army. I have a couple who have started CrossFit and are familiar with the movements. There are others who actually push ME to go faster (I mean, how many times do I need to say SLOTH Army?!). And I have a couple who need modifications for mobility and medical reasons. All levels can still participate in my class, but they work out at their level.

After the workout, I let my participants answer questions from our guest, and then spoke with her some more. It’s the first time I have been sought after to discuss my program, and I was thrilled.

I do Toastmasters, present at conferences, and write books, blog posts, and articles. But it’s always me doing the promoting. This time I was contacted and was requested for an interview. THAT NEVER HAPPENS!

I loved the replies to the question “Why did you join Sloth Army?” The answers varied, but the main theme was my Sloth Army recruits wanted to do something fun and at their own pace. A group offers accountability, and reinforcement for joining in. It’s always more fun in a group, and this one doesn’t pressure you to go fast or go home.

I reiterated that all these aspects and related them to my principles of ZooFit. If you aren’t having fun, you aren’t going to go back. Start small and grow from there, but enjoy the journey and the process along the way. If running isn’t your normal thing, running a marathon or joining a running club which races each other probably isn’t the best choice. But if you want to increase your activity, join a group of like-minded people who also want to exercise.

I love small groups. So much so, I am seriously considering getting a certification for a group fitness instructor. I get just as much out of working with a group as they do working with me. Having someone waiting for me helps get me motivated to do something. Making it exciting and inclusive for everyone pushes me creatively in ways working out on my own can’t achieve.

Games are a great way to get exercise while engaging the mind. You look forward to the next activity. Memory is far from the only game I play. There’s also BINGO, Deck of Cards, and Fate of the Die. I create fandom fitness exercises where I fashion fun workouts inspired by popular shows and movies. Not to mention holiday workouts (my Easter egg hunt is to die for), Conservation Hero WODs, and my Experience Nature workout series. These workouts make our exercise program anything but routine and adds an element of enrichment to the program.

I also shared how training a person isn’t much different from training an animal. You wouldn’t train an animal to sit on the scale by asking them to step on the scale in the first session. If an animal has never encountered a scale, asking them to sit on a strange object might be pushing your luck. There are a dozen ways to approach the training, but all of them involve breaking the behavior down into small achievable steps and teaching them one step at a time.

Fitness is like that. If you want to improve your fitness, start at the basics. To me, it’s far more important you keep coming back than it is you do the exercise at the highest level. If that means instead of squatting with weight you sit down onto a bench, that’s great. It’s the coming back part which makes the difference.

One of my students in CrossFit couldn’t do a proper sit-up without a band when she first started coming to class. But she kept coming back, week after week, and after only 10 classes, she was doing not just sit-ups on her own, but WEIGHTED sit-ups. If I had pushed her to do sit-ups on her own that first class, not only would she likely not have come back, but she may have given up on her fitness.

The exercise portion of Conservation Fitness is hard to connect to conservation in a direct way. It’s not as easy to make the connection as with Eating Green. I encourage people to workout in nature, and connect to the earth in a healthy way. And if it’s feasible, I also advocate walking or riding your bike more than driving your car, especially for short distances.

Making conservation fun in fitness is the tricky part. My zookeeper brain knows so many statistics about things which affect the environment, it’s hard not to share them. But many of these facts aren’t the most pleasant. It’s hard to turn doom and gloom into sunshine and roses. But making conservation personal, and showing how WE can benefit by taking care of the planet is engaging and exciting in its own right.

My day is far from over, but I feel I’ve hit a highlight already. Can’t wait to see what the story does for my program, and for conservation fitness.

Today:

Breakfast- Crunchy Keto Mousse, which had WAY more calories than I thought it would. Or would like. I’m thinking I should re-think the whole Keto week. Maybe revamp it.
Lunch- Salad with Avocado Dressing
Dinner- Basil and Thyme Chicken
Snacks- Mozzarella and basil

Workout:
Sloth Army ZooFit Memory

Mood: Obviously, today is a good day. I am on cloud nine about getting interviewed for the local paper. It’s also Day 1 of NaNoWriMo, so I feel optimistic about getting a lot done on this guide, finishing some projects, and getting a jump start on a couple others. Is my mood conservation fitness related? Possibly. I do feel the Keto diet is helping keep cravings back. But honestly, I just don’t think the Keto diet is for me personally.

Challenges: My biggest challenge right now is balancing calorie intake, healthy fat intake, and managing taste and satiating hunger. I am doing okay resisting temptation (even though I’ve already been offered danishes and candy). But several of my meals have lacked in taste I was hoping for. I am working on that, revamping some of the recipes. The recipes which taste great are really not the healthiest of choices- they are Keto approved, but not general healthy recipes. And when I’ve reached 2500 calories for the day, no amount of working out is going to fix that.

However, while I may struggle with Keto, I still want to include it because it may be perfect for someone else. I am living proof that not every diet is perfect for every person. It works for some, but it may not be suitable or sustainable for others.