Introduction: How to Start a Walking Regimen for Your Health
I had a conversation with my niece last night about her wanting to lose weight. She said she would rather have surgery than to think about walking to lose weight. I remember a time I felt like that. I also remember why I started walking. I didn't want to go home to an empty house so I began to walk. I walked off 135 pounds and for the most part have managed to keep it off. Changing jobs has forced me to change how I walk but I still walk. I have to walk more now because my job is more sedentary.
Beginning is much like the photo you see here. There is a road before you but yet you're not sure what is out there, you don't know if you can do it, come, sit, read, allow me to help you along this journey.
** Note I am not a doctor or health care professional. These are just some things that have worked for me. Speak with your health care professional before starting any exercise program.
Step 1: Shelve the BLAME and Don't Look at It As PUNISHMENT...
If you are carrying a few extra pounds realize that they did not get there overnight. For many of us, a life time of bad habits have gotten us to this point. It is easy to grab something quick and easy and sacrifice nutrition. It is what it is. Don't down yourself for being here, just move. It is pretty simple.
You are not going to start out walking 10 miles. I didn't even start out walking one mile. I just walked. I thought the first quarter mile around the high school track was going to do me in. I took it one step at a time and I made it. You will also.
You can blame yourself from now until forever that won't help. Love who you are but also pay respect to that person you want to become. Both parts of you are important.
Don't look at it with dread or as punishment. Look at it as exploring the world right outside your door.
Step 2: Pick Your Path...
Where you walk is important. I suggest you have several different places to walk. Choose different settings to keep things interesting. If you look at the same things day after day you could get bored. Here are some suggestions based on my walking habits but feel free to switch it up to suit your lifestyle.
A paved walking track, a gravel walking track, a walking place near water, a path with some hills (ladies, this will help tighten the booty and work on those calves), a walk through you town looking through the eyes of someone that has never visited before.
Also, your body adjusts so if you walk the same path all the time, you body will consider it normal and adjust and your will stall out. So change it up a bit.
So pick your path and take a step, it could be the biggest step you have ever made.
Step 3: Walk With Your Eyes...
If you have picked the right path, you will notice interesting things around you. It may be a sunrise, sunset, birds, plants, streams, water towers, just a multitude of things are out there right now just longing for you to notice them. There was a time I thought I had to count each lap but once I got to actually started looking to see, it became an adventure. I walk in the early morning. You will see a great many things you wouldn't normally see when there is dew on the ground. So instead of walking with your feet only, walk with your eyes. Open them wide and see all the wonders around you.
Side note, photography was a great way for me to want to walk more. Once I started taking photos I realized just how much there is to see in this big old world.
Step 4: Walk With Your Ears...
I have a dedicated playlist for walking. If you were ever that band kid who had to march to the beat of the music, they are still in there. When you walk with your ears, you will change your pace to the beat of the music. Mix up your music, this is not a boot camp march we are talking about. Walk to a couple fast songs then add one a little more mellow. Then pop in a couple more songs with some pep to add to your step. This allows your heart rate to climb, come down and climb again.
Make sure to change up your playlist from time to time to keep the boredom from creeping in that way.
There is no sound more relaxing to me than the sound of running water. When you walk near water, you will notice that it has different sounds depending on the flow. So just go with that flow as you walk. Allow the sound to relive your worries and calm your soul.
Step 5: Walk With Your Person or a Friend....
Some of my best walks are taken with my person. He is one of those people who stroll. He takes time to notice things and when we are walking together we point out the things hat we see. Both of us, being photographers, have an eye for things that look a little different. The photo you see was taken last week when we were strolling.
This is also a great time to have deep meaningful conversations or just to laugh and have fun.
Walking with someone you enjoy being with is not stressful it is uber relaxing. It is also a great time to bounce ideas around or make plans for an adventure. Just walking and talking is a great bonding time.
Step 6: Take Time to Pray or Meditate...
Walking time is a great time to pray. You are alone, you may be in this beautiful place and it is a good time to express gratitude for the good things going on in your life. It doesn't have to be aloud or long. Just a silent thought coming directly and sincerely from a thankful heart is very fulfilling and gives you a connection to someone bigger than yourself.
Step 7: Be Prepared and Remove Those Roadblocks...
It was really easy for me to say, I don't have my walking clothes or my walking shoes (actual photo of said shoes shown above, they are well used). So I have to get my excuses out of the way. I now travel with a bag packed. I can walk anywhere, any time. I was giving myself an easy out. I would say I will go home and change but I never went back and walked so now when I get off work I take the work bag to the car grab the walking bag and go right back inside to change. No excuses, ONLY ADVANCES...this is my motto.
Unless it is charging, I always wear my fitbit. Every step counts. After I reach my goal for a week, I set my goal 1,000 steps higher for the next week.
My bag contains several changes of clothes, several pairs of sock, my walking shoes and my hand weights. When they are laundered, they go right back into the bag.
Side note: The shoes you wear MUST, MUST, MUST be comfortable. If your feet hurt, you are not going to want to walk. So be prepared to try several kinds before your find your "sole mate".
Step 8: Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate....
When you are enjoying your walk it may seem that you are using that much fluid but you are. Have water or some sort of sports drink with you when you are walking. Snacks are not a bad idea either. Just a little something in case of a sugar drop.
I leave mine in the car and once I am through before I even start the car I drink some water. You lose water in many ways so make sure you put it back. Dehydration is not pretty or healthy and it is hard on your kidneys. Remember we want to be healthy not skinny, it isn't the same thing.
Step 9: Know Your Own Limits...
Don't ask me how I know this, I just do but you can get too much of a good thing.
Let's just say, I might have gone for a walk a while back and I have been walking for five years, it was pretty warm not hot but the humidity was really high that day. I decided to play a game and took photos along my walk to share on social media to see if people could identify where I was.
When I got back to where I started, I went and did some weight training. No big deal!!!
WRONG!!! I made myself sick for two days. I pushed too hard and didn't even realize it. Overdoing can be as dangerous as not doing.
So know your limits. Don't push too hard. If it hurts (in the wrong way and you will know) don't do it.
Step 10: Be Aware of Your Surroundings...
Don't get so lost in thought or music that you are not aware of who or what is around you. I have had some trouble with someone knowing where I was walking and telling me they saw me everyday. This is when I learned to walk in different places. I had no clue they were anywhere around. Better to err on the side of caution.
And.... as someone who seems to be able to find snakes without trying very hard, be careful where you step, you can be on a snake before you realize it.
My theory when walking with a friend..."I don't have to outrun the bear, I just have to outrun you" and I am not above tripping someone if need be. Just kidding...maybe.
Just Be SAFE!!!
Step 11: What If the Weather Is Not Great...
It is going to rain, winter is going to come, the sun doesn't shine all the time. What then???
Find some exercises you can do online or check out the sports section of your local Walmart. There are DVDs that can help. I have several and I switch them up when I can't get out in the sun.
Also, you can always take that earlier mentioned playlist and have a dance party in your own living room. Don't laugh, I've done it.
So that's it. Just a few helpful hints. Let me know if it helps, no really, I want to know.