Walking It Off: How My Morning Habit Helped Me Find Myself Again
I looked at the calendar and couldn’t believe it had been five months. Five months since the last time I had gone on what had been a daily, one-hour walk. I could feel the changes, too, and it scared me. My body missed the exercise: I was more agitated lately and having trouble falling asleep. During the day, my legs were cramping and I felt tired. Things just didn’t feel right, and I knew much of this fatigue and discomfort was caused by lack of exercise. I knew the importance of daily movement for health and emotional well being.
But every day, something got in the way of my walk. Even if the first thing I promised myself when I woke up was that I would walk. But here it was, almost half a year since I had exercised.
I have been active my entire life, which made it even harder to believe that I had become someone who didn’t move. For the first time in my life, the excuses were winning and it all boiled down to one thing: my belief that I had no time.
It was easy to fall out of step, I can see that now. When my children were younger, my walks were taken care of with them in a stroller. Later, with them alongside me on bikes. As they grew into junior high and high school, I thought my schedule would evolve into more time for me. I was surprised when the opposite happened; their school, sports and after-school activities increased and, thinking I would have more time in my day, I had increased my hours at work. Life became about getting from one place to another with pit stops in between — and none of them by foot. And somewhere in that frenetic pace, I had lost my hour for walking.
I feel focused and clear-minded; I can focus my attention or let my thoughts drift. My time is mine when I walk, and in it, everything comes together.
That day I had my reckoning while looking at the calendar was over two years ago, and on that day, I said no more. I stood at the mirror and looked at myself. Out loud, I made a promise to not shove good health aside or think it was something guaranteed. I promised to stop thinking of myself as a machine that needs no maintenance. I would stop grabbing whatever was handy to eat as I ran from home to work and to school for the kids. I would stop racking up hours spent sitting working without any break to get up and move around. I would keep these promises and change how I was living. To hold me to my word, I bought a discounted floor-model treadmill so the weather couldn’t become another excuse.
And I promised I would never again let months pass without movement.
I went for my walk this morning, as I’ve done for the past two years. Everyone was still in bed, but my youngest heard me up and came downstairs.
Good for you! I’ve been trying to take more walks too. When I’m stuck on writing, I’ve been trying to step outside and see the world. Keep walking, my friend!
Outside, I love that honest time with myself. And life tip: if you cover up head to toe with only eyes peeking out, it doesn’t feel so cold.
Just like you, I’m a morning walker-and like you, as my kids grow up I’ve found the shift In schedule curious. I found myself stuck in the same rut, so this year I’m biking to and from work every day- it helps get me centered and at least I know I’ve done something for my body if the day gets crazy!
That’s exactly what it feels like, Jennifer: a centering. It is a time of honest reflection and I feel so in touch with who I am. Thanks for your kind comment.
I’m with you on the need to move. For me it’s an almost pathological crutch (which is probably not great) in that every time I get injured I am terrified I’ll make it impossible for myself to exercise ever again. Good for you for starting your walks again! It is hard to keep life from getting in the way, but certainly not impossible.
Oooph. I am going through that right this minute. I twisted my knee Saturday night and have been hobbling since. I’ve been icing it and taking the two weeks of rest off but I feel the agitation of not moving. I have become dependent on that physical outlet to relieve my stress and I can’ wait to get back to it, Rita.
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