It started with a simple goal: put on my sneakers.
I have always liked walking, but I haven’t always taken the time to do it. Last year my mom and I became “Health Buddies” and I started walking regularly.
When I tell people how far I walk, I often get “I can’t do that” or “I don’t have time for that” or other similar responses. So I want to make it clear that I started out really slowly at first and it took quite a while to get to the point where I’m walking 4.5 miles most days.
It took me a year to walk a mile regularly. I was stuck at a mile for many, many months. Then one day I decided to walk to the rail trail in my town. Not on it, but just to it. That day actually changed my motivation and inspiration a lot. I was curious when I got there, so I decided to check it out. I told myself the entire time that if I got tired, I would stop and turn around or take a break.
I ended up walking the entire first part of it. There’s a riparian barrier in my town, which is basically a preserved area for nature. There’s all kinds of birds, insects, trees, flowers and whatever else you can imagine would be in nature living there and the rail trail follows it.
There are two parts on the rail trail: one goes straight and then another one branches off. I made it a goal to make it to the branched off part. I honestly thought it would take a long time until I got to that point. But then my curiosity got to me again and I did it. It felt great and I kept doing it.
I’m a slow walker. There are lots of people who walk much faster and pass me. There are joggers on the trail, too. It takes a lot of time for me to complete the walk in the morning. Sometimes at the end my feet hurt. However, I have made this such a part of my daily routine that it’s no longer something I talk myself out of. I just get up, put my sneakers on and do it.
At the end of the post, I have a few tips for you if you’re considering taking up walking and you haven’t done it before. I am by no means an expert and am not a physician, so I just want to say that you probably should talk to your doctor before undertaking any exercise routine just to make sure everything is fine and dandy.
Here are 5 Ways Walking Has Changed my Life:
1. Sense of accomplishment
It is an amazing sense of accomplishment to complete a walk. When I first did 4.5 miles I was so proud of myself. I cried because I couldn’t believe I did it.
Now I think I’m known as the lady who walks all the time. I live in a town with lots of little stores that I walk by each day. When I go in those stores I’m often asked how far I walk each day because they see me walking all the time.
I have to admit what gets me walking in the morning is often more about what I’m going to see along the trail than any kind of health benefit. In the spring it was the birds, in the summer I watched for butterflies and dragonflies and currently I’m loving the changing of the leaves.
I started a nature journal at the beginning of the summer, so during my walks I take mental notes and sometimes photos so I can put it all in my nature journal when I get home. I pick up little things I find along the way, too. (I never pick living things, just things that I find laying on the trail.)
My nature journal is kind of like a reward for my walk.
I have met some of the nicest people during my walks. I see a lot of the same people during the week. It’s not that we’re friends, but we’re there doing the same thing each day and it’s nice to see familiar faces doing the same thing.
It takes a relatively long time to go on my walk in the morning. I also stretch beforehand as well. I don’t actually have a lot of extra time. However, my health is a top priority and walking is improving my health.
I feel better. I can go up stairs without losing my breath, which kind of even feels silly to write now because that’s been true for a while. Even walking a mile a day helped with that.
I also find that I make better health choices when I walk in the morning than when I don’t walk. I’ll choice healthier food and snack less. I drink a lot of water.
I don’t have backaches anymore and rarely have headaches. Both were issues for me my entire life. I feel stronger and have more endurance.
My energy level has improved significantly. I used to have this feeling of being tired most days for the entire day or have this brain fog where I couldn’t exactly think properly. I don’t have that anymore. I’m more productive and get more stuff done more quickly.
That also means I have more time for more creativity in my life. As I mentioned, I started a nature journal. I also started an art journal, do Project Life and have several other creative projects in addition to making jewelry. I would not have the energy to do all those things if I wasn’t walking.
Additionally, walking in such a beautiful place as well as walking through the inspiring town I live in gives me a lot of inspiration for all of my creative projects.
Some Tips to Get Started:
Again, I am not an expert whatsoever. I’m just a fat girl who wants to be able to be more adventurous. I want to go see waterfalls without fearing the 4 mile walk is too much for me.
As I mentioned above, if you’re considering starting walking or undertaking any new exercise routine, I would suggest you talk to your doctor first. 🙂
Tip #1 To get started, just tell yourself you’re just putting on your sneakers especially if you’re reluctant to start. I’ve heard this advice numerous times, thought it was a crock and then did it and it worked for me. Sometimes you just need momentum. Sometimes just overcoming one obstacle helps move to on to the next thing.
Tip #2 If you haven’t walked regularly before, be patient and kind to yourself. Well, always be patient and kind to yourself in every circumstance anyway, but when you’re starting something new, especially if you’re being more physically active than before you may have the tendency to push yourself too hard.
I told myself I would go as far as I could and I wouldn’t put expectations on it at first. If I got tired, I would stop and rest. If I needed to turn around and go home, I did that. At first, my focus was just putting on my sneakers. Then it was getting out the door. Then walking a block. And so on.
Tip #3 Don’t worry about what anybody else is doing. Like I mentioned above, there are many walkers where I walk and most of them are walking faster than me. I try not to compare myself to them. I had a moment where I was feeling bad about that, but my husband reminded me that I don’t even know their story. I actually walk quite a distance before I even get on the trail. Maybe they live closer. Maybe they have been walking (or jogging) for many years. None of that even matters, to be honest. It just matters how you’re feeling.
Tip #4 Don’t worry about how you look. This is probably more my own self-esteem issues, so I don’t know if this applies to everyone or not, but I have not exercised for many years because I am overweight. It seems counter intuitive, but I always worried about being the overweight girl struggling to exercise. I didn’t want to look stupid. I always felt like I didn’t belong. And I have to say mostly people are nice. We’re kind of a community of people doing the same thing.
I had one experience that I almost took the wrong way. I was struggling walking one day. It was a footwear issue mostly. My old sneakers were worn out and I got new sneakers, but they didn’t fit right and I had a lot of pain in my feet as I kept going. I was trying to push through it anyway (which I have since decided is not the best move) and I was very obviously struggling.
A jogger came along and told me I was doing good and to keep up the good work. I was embarrassed to know that someone saw me struggling so much to say something to me. I wasn’t even very far on the trail. I wanted to tell her I didn’t need her encouragement because I usually walk 4.5 miles each day and today is just weird.
But after giving it some thought, I was struggling. I was having a hard time. I was going to give up – and honestly I did because I couldn’t really go any further with my feet in the condition they were in. She was being supportive and that was super nice of her.
I was embarrassed because I had been feeling a part of the community and that made me feel like I wasn’t. I was embarrassed because I couldn’t make it my full walk that day. What I decided was true, though, was I am part of that walking community. So much a part that someone was encouraging me when I was struggling. And I maybe I can do that for someone, too.
Tip #5 If you’re tired, rest.
Often I use the excuse of needing a drink of water to stop, but sometimes I just need to rest for a second. I don’t sit down (it’s so much harder to get going again!), but I do stop. I also get a chance to check out whatever butterflies or birds happen to be around if I stop for a moment.
Also, I don’t just mean rest on the way, but if you need a day to rest, take it. You can do some other exercise or yoga or just simply rest. But don’t rest too long because it’s hard to get going again if you take too many days off!
Okay, now I’m off to my walk! I can’t wait to see the trees and leaves falling today. And sometimes just seeing what’s changed in the nature along the way is my biggest inspiration to actually get going.