You have heard people say, "Walk the pounds away." Or, "Walk off the weight." It's true. Walking does shed unwanted pounds. As an avid walker, I can truly attest to the very real way one can lose weight by making walking a part of your exercise regime. Although I was not drawn to walking to lose weight, I have been walking since 1998. During that time, there was a lot going on in my life. Subsequently, I was advised by my therapist to consider getting a dog because of their comforting, companion-like qualities. After some contemplation and weeks of research, I purchased an 8 week old cocker spaniel whom we affectionately named Journey. (Pictured)
With so much going on, and so much changing, I was scared for all the reasons we get scared when things dramatically change. But something happened when I started getting up every single morning and walking with Journey. I was helped in ways my therapist did not mention and perhaps could not have predicted.
I revisit that time in my life for this week's blog because 20 years later I am reminded anew of how beneficial walking is and can be. As you know, I'm here in California getting settled in and one of the things that has brought me the most comfort while being in this new city where so much about my life has changed, is the same thing that brought me comfort back in 1998 when so much about my life had changed: WALKING.
I walk 5 days a week. I could walk 7 days a week, but that's another blog. Nevertheless, here is why I want to encourage you to consider walking routinely...if you do not already.
1. By literally putting one foot in front of the other, you focus on what works instead of what's not working. You connect with the fact that your feet work. Your legs work. Your sense of direction works. So you begin to walk off pessimism.
2. By watching, with intention, the flowers and the grass; the trees and the sky, you realize that despite how your situation looks or feels, beautiful things are still all around you to behold. So you begin to walk off sadness.
3. By seeing other people driving by or walking by, it occurs to you that there are other people in the world. It occurs to you that you are not alone--or at least don't have to be. There are people who care about you. People whom you've been unfairly isolating from. So you begin to walk off loneliness.
4. By taking new routes or new paths you see neighborhoods or things you don't necessarily pay attention to when driving. Your imagination kicks in. You wonder. Questions surface. Your curious juices start to flowing. So you begin to walk off complacency.
5. By walking; by breathing; by sweating; by listening to the music piping through your headphones; by listening to the birds chirp; by feeling the wind across your face, you realize that you have so much to be grateful for. So you begin to walk off ingratitude.
My walking journey may have started because of Journey (my cocker spaniel), but I'm here to tell you that it has been the life changing benefits that's kept me walking even in Journey's absence. (He was killed during one of our morning walks years ago.) The other powerful piece to this walking thing is this; in the last 20 years, not only have I walked off more things than I can write about; I have also walked into more things than I can write about. Because of the therapeutic nature of walking, I have walked my way into things like answers and peace and calm, renewed hope, restored joy and changed perspective. I have walked into smiles and good conversations.
So, when you think of walking, don't just sell the experience cheap by limiting it to losing weight. Open yourself up to the other life changing benefits of putting one foot in front of the other, because they are truly real and amazing. I love you with my whole heart. Talk to you next week. Until then, let's be a force for good.
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