Change for the Better: Creating a Walking RoutineLifestyle
With my second arm surgery, I made a decision to reclaim my body. I couldn’t control what happened to my arm, but I could take control of the rest of my body and make changes to better care for it and improve my health and well-being. I didn’t want to throw myself into something I couldn’t maintain, I’ve done that too many times before. This time was about small, lifelong changes that were not about dress size but longevity.
One of these changes was walking. I could walk with a cast, I can walk no matter the season, and it doesn’t cost additional money. I committed to 30 minutes a day (though life happens and it’s usually more like five times a week than seven). No goal distance, no goal speed, and no need to take a path full of intensity. My 30 minutes could be slow meandering down the street, or power walking up the highest hill in town. I started at the beginning of June, and two months later I’m still walking almost every morning. Still, some days are a slow meander down a flat road, and some days I push myself and go a harder trail or a longer period of time.
I started keeping my shorts, tee shirt, and bra in the bathroom to prevent getting distracted and losing motivation. When I started, I just wore a pair of capri yoga pants or my J. Crew twill shorts and a tee shirt. I knew if I worried too much about the “right” attire I’d lose focus. But with time, I realized proper athletic gear would make for a more comfortable walk. Graced by Grit was kind enough to send me a pair of their Land & Sea Knickers and they’re fantastic. They do run small (I have XL and think they’re no bigger than a 12), but they’re super comfortable (no rolling down, no bagging), the fabric feels good even in the heat and smooths out lumps and bumps, and there’s a pocket in the waistband on the front AND the back so I can slip in a key in one and my iPhone in another. Every pair of Graced by Grit apparel also comes with a safety whistle that is lightweight enough to wear when exercising without being uncomfortable. I also ordered two pairs of running shorts from Old Navy. I was worried about shorts riding up and my legs rubbing together but it was way too hot and muggy to spend every day in my Graced by Grit knickers. The Old Navy Active Perforated Shorts are pretty much what I expected – ride up, don’t fit my curves well, not flattering. However I got their Side Mesh Running Shorts and I love them. They have a tiny pocket for a key or ID, they don’t ride up even when I’m really sweaty, and they’re comfortable and work with my curves.
When I started walking, I listened to a playlist I made on Spotify. Then I tried an audiobook and now I'm hooked and subscribed to Audible. I lose track of time with the book, while music I have the desire to pause after the end of each song. I mix it up, sometimes it's a novel, sometimes it's nonfiction. I've really enjoyed listening to motivational books on my walks; #GIRLBOSS, Brené Brown, Thrive by Ariana Huffington. By only letting myself listen to the book on my walk it's extra motivation to get up and move each morning.
I didn't start with an app to track anything because I know that I can get obsessed with numbers. After a month I did download MapMyWalk to see how long I was actually walking. Like I expected, next day I went longer and harder to “beat” my previous day and I worked so hard I lost motivation and didn't walk for two days. Since then, I stick to the same path if I use MapMyWalk so I don't make it a competition and keep it just a daily habit. I do NOT connect it to social media because that just gets me into competition mode instead of lifelong change mode.
I haven’t weighed myself since I started because I don’t want to get too focused on weight loss or defined goals, but after two months of walking almost daily I feel more… lubricated. I don’t wake up stiff, my back doesn’t hurt at the end of the work day, and I sleep so much better and wake up more easily. Now, waking up this early is a habit, and a pleasure. I like walking, and find myself getting up from my desk and taking a trip around the block when I feel stuck on a project or overwhelmed by my inbox. I sneak squats in the elevator (oh what the front desk person must think watching the security video!), take the long way to a coworker’s office, and enjoy dancing and running around with Emerson.
I’m okay with being this size for the rest of my life, but I’m not okay with having my body fall apart around me. Choosing new habits like walking that I can do no matter my size or age can create a lasting change that will improve my health, my well-being, and improve the quality and length of my life.