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.