When you think of fitness, what comes to mind? Today’s media would have you thinking of beautiful people in spandex, walking on their home (read:expensive) exercise equipment, trying out the latest diet craze (“6,000 grapefruits a week and you’ll lose 10 pounds!!!!!”) or trying an unproven diet supplement with a warning that it is not FDA approved. Advertisements of that sort can turn you off to fitness and improved health. The cost, the technology and the monotony are enough to make you rethink your fitness goals and reach for the TV remote and another bag of chips.
But there is a better way! Trust me, I know it, I do it, it works for me. Ready? Wait for it…wait for it…its…
The simple act of getting up and walking can do wonders for your health, your body and your self esteem. Just beginning to walk on a routine basis makes you feel like you are doing something good for yourself.
So how do you start? Of course, the first answer is to get up and take a walk, but its so much more than that. Its easy to make walking part of your daily routine, and I’m going to help you figure out what works best for you.
Your first step is not to figure out your ultimate fitness goals. That will come later. If you set lofty goals for yourself, you’ll be disappointed. Rather, you should start with where you are right now in your fitness life and see what it is you can accomplish that will make you feel good about yourself. In other words, if you haven’t been walking anywhere in 3 years, don’t expect to do a mile your first day out. Start with a small goal. Make it something you like to do. If you enjoy the mall, drive to the mall, and do a lap around the perimeter. If you survive that, do another one. If you are tired after one, rest. If you like the outdoors, find a walking trail. Don’t worry about doing it from one end to the other and back. Walk a quarter of a mile, turn around and come back to where you parked your car. You’ve begun! If you have a treadmill that is living its life as a clothes rack, try this: position it in front of the TV and download a favorite TV show episode. Most half hour shows are really only 20 minutes, and if you can do 20 minutes on the treadmill, that’s a great start. The TV will keep you entertained and maybe even motivated! My preference when I am on my treadmill is my MP3 player, with the fast tunes cranked up LOUD. Its not good for my ears, but its good for my motivation.
The bottom line is that to stick to the walking commitment, you need to make it something you enjoy. If its not in a situation you are stimulated by, you will get easily bored and you will not want to continue.
Take it easy and slow, do a little more each time. You don’t have to walk every day, 3 or 4 times a week is a great goal. By the end of the first 2 weeks, you will begin to see little changes. You will not be so winded anymore. You will not feel the pain in your legs. And you will begin to feel better about yourself.
My own walking regime began in 2010, when I realized that I had signed up to walk 60 miles for a cure, and I couldn’t even walk up the stairs without losing my breath. I also felt that I needed to be healthier to more adequately perform my job duties. It doesn’t bode well if the paramedic is having more trouble breathing than the patient! I began slowly. I did a half mile on the treadmill, and slowly increased it to a mile. Then I picked up the pace. And then, I added some inclines. When the weather got warmer, I began to walk the walking trails in our national park. The first time, I thought I was going to keel over by the end. But after a few weeks, even these were getting easier. And while 60 miles is no walk in the park, I felt I was prepared when I took that first step.
Find what you love! Start with some small steps! And soon, you’ll be asking yourself, why didn’t I start this sooner? 🙂
Next time, we’ll talk about what walking at Disney is all about, and what to expect!