Be Light and Healthy

Walk For Your Life

Posted on: October 3, 2010

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”  Lao-tzu

Prior to embarking on my weight loss journey, I was leading a sedentary life.  Carrying around an extra 100 Pounds was exhausting.  I had no desire to walk any further than necessary.  Driving around a parking lot in an attempt to secure a space close to my destination was typical.  I got to work early, parked in the first spot, and took the elevator up to the second floor.  I minimized any walking necessary throughout the day.  

When we went on vacations and did more walking than usual, I ended up being tired and grouchy.  On those occasions my back and feet would start to hurt and contribute to my misery.  In addition, I was frequently out of breath.  Needless to say, vacations weren’t the fun or enjoyable experiences they are meant to be. 

For the most part, I had never been very active.  When I was young, I hated gym and lacked athletic ability.  In elementary school I couldn’t even do a somersault though I was rewarded with a star sticker on my forehead for trying so hard.  When I was in my 20’s, I had done aerobics but didn’t enjoy it because I wasn’t particularly coordinated.  Through the years I had also occasionally used walking as a form of exercise when I was dieting.      

In Eight Weeks to Optimum Health Dr. Andrew Weil’s exercise recommendation is walking because it can be done anywhere, only requires a good pair of shoes, and can be done throughout your whole life.  His recommendation for Week One is to walk 10 Minutes a day.  Though this seems like a reasonable recommendation, it took me a whole year before I was even ready to try it. 

In the meantime I found other small ways to incorporate movement into my life.  Instead of automatically taking the first parking space when I arrived at work early, I gradually worked my way out to the fringes of the parking lot.  I started walking down the stairs instead of taking the elevator.  Eventually, I began to walk up the stairs and forego the elevator completely.  Initially, I was out of breath after climbing a flight of stairs, but as the weight came off, my breathing improved.  At home instead of consolidating the number of trips I needed to make upstairs, I’d make multiple trips.  I started looking for excuses to get up from my desk and walk more.  I opted to put the car in the garage and walk 100 Feet to the mailbox instead of hanging out the car window to retrieve the mail.  Since I was also increasing my daily water consumption, the number of times I had to walk to the rest room was contributing to the increase in my activity level.    

After a year I had lost 35 pounds and was ready to consider Dr. Weil’s recommendation.  When I did start walking, I eased into it using my strategy of treating myself with kindness.  I started considering that I might start walking.  Then eventually the conversation in my head would go something like this, “Hmmm, I could walk today.  It’s kind of hot so I don’t think I will.  Maybe I’ll walk tomorrow.”  As the days went by, the conversations evolved, “Hmmm, I could walk today.  I think I will walk today, but I don’t want to walk for very long.  Okay, I’ll walk for 10 Minutes.”  It was very important that I allowed myself to make a choice and not judge whatever choice I made.  If I chose not to walk, I allowed myself to let go of the decision and congratulated myself for having considered it instead of mentally abusing myself for choosing not to walk.  Gradually, I increased the frequency and duration of my walks.       

Since I took those initial steps, I’ve walked thousands of miles.  I feel fantastic and walk an average of 3 miles almost every day.  Walking nourishes me physically, mentally, and spiritually and is one of the most enjoyable parts of my day.  On those rare days that I’m unable to take a walk, I feel like a bit of nourishment is missing from my day.  Walking energizes me and makes me happy.  I wish it were possible to wave a magic wand and bestow upon you the feelings of vitality and wellness that are ultimately possible.  Choosing to take that first single step puts you on the road to a happier, healthier life.           

I invite you to be kind to yourself and consider taking a small step in the direction of your good health.  Whether it’s taking the stairs or walking for 5 minutes a day, that small step can ultimately lead to your transformation.  In addition, I invite you to sign up for e-mail updates to get informed and inspired to Be Light and Healthy.

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