My Leap List

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Walking a Year One Step at a Time

     I am not someone who loves exercise; I live too much in my head.  My doctor loves to tell me that my Fibromyalgia would be better if I exercise and lost weight, but working and finishing my doctorate were good excuses to keep me inside.
      That started to change 6 months ago when my friend Rachelle invited me to do a Diet Bet she was hosting.  It motivated me to start walking more than just once in a while.  I managed to walk 62 miles that month even though I didn't lose as much weight as I'd hoped.  The month ended and so did my motivation.  I only managed to walk 26 miles in August, 17 in September, 5 in October, and nothing in November.
      When my doctor told me in November that in addition to the Fibro, I'm now getting Diabetes, I knew that something needed to change.  I signed up for a virtual challenge to do 50 miles in December figuring if I could do 50 miles in a cold dark month, I could do anything.  It was tough, but thanks to a week off for the holidays, I did it.  All that walking gave me lots of time to reflect on some hard truths about myself.  I realized that I do better if I have a goal to work towards and someone to keep me accountable.  I didn't want to stop walking and find myself in the same place six months from now realizing that I had let everything slide again.  So Mandy and I decided we would make a goal to walk 50 miles every month of the year, but I was worried that would be like so many resolutions that I start with a bang and fizzle out by the end of January.
      For some reason Facebook posted an ad for a challenge called Run the Year 2017.  I told myself that was a ridiculous goal, but something made me go back and look at it again.  When I saw that you could split it up any way you wanted to with up to 4 people, I decided that would be just what I needed.  I was right.  The group is full of all kinds of people with all kinds of goals working on improving themselves.  Some are marathoners, others are people with major health problems, and some are doing this challenge with babes in arms.  I met Jim in this group.  He is a veteran, trying to kick a life-long smoking habit, and recovering from a heart attack a few months ago.  I was thrilled to have him join my team with Mandy.
     The group has side challenges each month that are optional.  January's is to do a mile a day so your body gets in the habit of moving.  There were many nights I would get home late from work exhausted and want to do anything but go back out in the cold and dark, but one or both of my kids would go, "Come on, mom - you can do this," and off we'd go to get at least a mile in for the challenge.  It also helps to have the Run the Year group.  I'll get up on Saturday morning wanting to do anything but go out walking, and I will see a person in my group with brain cancer who had surgery a week ago who is back at it, or the mom running with a baby in a stroller with her cute toddler running next to her, or any of the other thousands of people sharing their challenges and successes, and I start lacing up my shoes.
      I had no goal this month other than to try and get my fifty miles I set for myself and try and do at least a mile a day, but everyone's motivation kept me inspired to do more until I walked 100 miles in 22 days - a personal lifetime record.
     It has been incredibly hard.  Walking on a fallen arch has given me tendonitis in my ankle and leg,and huge blisters where my arch should be.  I had a soft tissue injury in my knee that kept me from racing at Disneyland.  I've walked though knee high snow, slipped and fell on ice a few times, stepped in snow puddles that left my feet soaking wet with miles still to go, been chased by a dog, and pushed into blinding sleet to get those miles in.
     But it has also been an incredible blessing.  While I could have gone somewhere to walk the miles inside, I have loved reconnecting with nature.  I am seeing winter for the first time - from gentle sunsets, to sparkling snow, to hundreds of birds eating the berries I never appreciated, to the hushed solitude after the snow falls, to the kids playing in the snow.  I am also loving the extra time with Mandy and Nick when they come with me.  I've gotten to know them on a deeper level and appreciate what motivates them and how they motivate me.  When they aren't there, I enjoy the quiet reflection that comes when I have nothing to distract me.  These are gifts I would not have if I hadn't been blessed with the coincidence that is never a coincidence and found the exact thing that would help me get to today.  Today I celebrate 100 hard won miles.  Tomorrow starts the first step to 200.  After all, there are 2,017 miles in my year and I'm excited to live every one of them.    

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