August 2014: A short Little Walk
I slipped out the door, for a short little walk.
All by myself, there was no need to talk,
the power of silence, the sound of the wind,
in the absence of people, to follow my whims.
And so I walked onward, day after day,
and slowly my sickness just melted away.
I joined the gym and began hitting the treadmill walking at 5:30 AM. Every day. I did other stuff. Not enough upper body stuff but okay. We never run out of things to work on, To improve, to be better today than yesterday.
FYI I hate the gym. I just had to work hard to not preface “gym” with an appropriately phrased expletive to emphasize how much I hate the &^%#@! gym. Did then. Do now. What did the gym that I hated do for me in these early days? It gave me a treadmill and a point of focus from which to build routines. I self-programmed myself into doing that every day. Now I walk Free range on roads and trails. But the routine I established continues.
Day 1 (June 16) was a painful half mile. By the time of the photo in early July I was up to a mile. I also walked the perimeter of the parking lot at work, which was a quarter of a mile. On June 16 I walked at twice for a half a mile. This hurt. I will not lie, But on June 16, 2014 I walked a mile total. slowly and torturously. I was watched. By some whose words and attitudes showed that they saw my eventual failure as foreordained. Jokes on them, as I type this, almost seven years later, yes a few pounds over ideal, but not obese, having walked little over seven miles today. I would like to think that I was watched and some were inspired.
Same to you. Ditch the negative voices. They can’t help you. Walk on.
I walked. I didn’t run. I saw no need to and walking suits both my biology and temperament. I prefer to walk in the forest but the gym it was for my beginning. Planet Fitness Yay. Being an early riser helped me get there. It being right on the way to work helped as well. I am grateful for their inexpensive memberships, hours of operation and no judgement zone policies. Like a lot of folks. I have enough negative experiences with jock-ish individuals that gyms had always been a nonstarter.
I was dedicated to the improvement. I didn’t turn into the hard-charging gym-rat with a routine. I went, walked, did some other stuff, and did it every day. I had a reason, which again I will state has more to do with finding a life instead of just losing weight. But, thathappened.
Thoughts about walking
When you walk, you think, or I do anyway. For awhile I thought about walking.
It’s what humans do. Soon as we dropped from the trees, we started walking. And walked. If some folks are to be believed we walked up out of Africa and to everywhere else.But we walked.
We only seriously ran under two conditions:
- We were trying to kill and eat something
- Something was trying to kill and eat us
Otherwise? We walked. Walked while hunting. Walked while gathering. Then we still walked while farming. Walking is awesome. It moves all the right parts the right way, we evolved doing it. It’s holistically healthful. Meaning it works for the whole self.
The Why of the Walk
Walking lends itself well to all four major domains of self, in so doing it improves us: Physically, Mentally, Emotionally and Spiritually. Some folks lump mentally and emotionally into one thing. I don’t. But have I ever mentioned that it is all way connected? It is.
I focus on walking here because thats my thang yo. But this applies to any form of physical exercise. Anything that gets you going. There is plenty of science that suggests walking as one of best things you can do. Get some wrist weights and you have a full body thing going. Invent your own chicken dance walking down the road. Your town probably needs some new crazy.
1. Physical Health
Two major physical benefits of walking are: improved cardiovascular health, and calorie burn. Walking everyday for 25 or 30 minutes is HUGE for both weight loss and wellness gain.
2. Mental Health
Sleep. Seriously. Walk yourself tired. You get better sleep. Better sleep leads to better judgement lead to better decisions. Rest gives alertness, Rest alert is way better than caffeine and sugar alert. More importantly its a stress dump. When you are walking along burning off calories, Those calories refuse to die alone. Stress is coming with. Which makes you happier. Told you it’s all connected.
3. Emotional Health
Watching calories burn and stress die in the flames does make one happy. But nobody but weirdos like me think of it that way, Science says increase blood flow works some chemical magic in your brains and boom… emotional wellness boost. I love science. Its also a positive act for yourself. That makes you feel good.
4. Spiritual Health
Walking helps you connect with yourself. Not what you were expecting was it? Yes that is spiritual. Bad news. People who aren’t connected to themselves aren’t connecting to anything or anyone else. Sustainable wellness requires a certain degree of self awareness and connection. Start there.
How else could moving your legs and sauntering on down the road, trail or sidewalk (a physical act), gives a body time to think in the sun or maybe the rain in such a way as to begin thinking better (mental). In that thinking better, begin to feel happier (emotional). And because you are out walking outside, especially with trees, you begin to feel more connected to yourself, then God, the universe, whatever, (Spiritual), You see? It’s all connected. Now with all that positive goodness working on so many levels how could we not grow healthier? You tell me?
But the sum of the walking goodness is a net increase in your confidence in you. With each new mile gained and each pound lost that confidence grows until you know and can say, “I got this” without feeling like you are gaslighting yourself yourself.
The daily Bitgasm - Measuring Progress
After some months of walking some estimated distance that I increased everyday I broke down and got a fitbit. Great gizmo. The fact that the new company health reimbursement paid for it made it even greater.
Now I could tell accurately how far my steps had taken me. At this point I have burned through four of these gizmos and currently have the top end one that measures everything..
What it gave me was a benchmark to reach for. 10,000 steps a day, for me about 4.2 miles, along with 22 floors of elevation, 24 minutes of cardio and etc. After a while I was able to develop a routine of making that 10,000 step goal.
Of course, there is no perfect self in an imperfect world, so I can’t say I achieve it every day, even now. though most days I try to make at least 15,000 steps.
There is the satisfying feature. When your reach the goal? It buzzes and beeps and flashes fireworks on the screen in a glorious moment of… bitgasm. What else would you call it?
The Hikes that Were, Are, and yet to be
It didn’t take me long to tire of the gym. outside of bad weather days I stopped using it. My journey started in part with frustration over not being able to hike. We are all individuals. Your own path to a happier place might be becoming a gym rat. exercising among other people may be what clicks for you. I prefer being in nature. Walking along forest trails or country roads is my happy space. Its is far more easier for me to connect to the things that I need to connect to if I am among the trees and rocks.
As I started this journey with a hike, I’ll end this part of the story with a hike. Just a few short years ago I was stuck. Stuck in a body that was sick, stuck in a job I hated, in a city that wasn’t home surrounded by people who didn’t get me, who wanted me to fit into their mold. Stuck in a pit of depression whose walls I clawed at in futility until alcohol fuzzed despair into the background. Stuck. And I fully believed that I would be stuck until the grave made my stuckness final.
In that stuckness I went to the woods to seek the relief and release of the trees and went a short way but could go no farther, But this time. I didn’t stop. I walked again. And more again until the world wrapped around me as I walked on and on until I found the place where dreams live.
What about You?
What about you? Maybe cycling is your thing. Maybe something else. Maybe you physically can’t walk. But what can you do that would take you a little closer to what you want for yourself from yourself. Tell me about it in the comments below!
Until Next Time, Much Love and God Bless!