Smart or Silly? What I Learned When I Set Myself a 30 Day Walking Challenge in Winter

It's February. It's cold. The news is dire. Even the cat has been sleeping more than usual. And I'd been off-task and out of sorts for over a week.

So I decided to go for a walk.

NOT the obvious choice. We'd had 3 days of snow in the past week in Denver - over 14 inches. I'd talked myself out of going to the gym all week. "The roads are icy!" "The flu is everywhere!" my disaster-mongering brain whispered to me.

The day before was the icing on the cake as far as losing all self-respect went.

I'd eaten roughly my own weight that day (ok, really a lot less than that), culminating in a pizza delivery (thank goodness somebody was driving in the snow. Relax! I tipped prodigiously, ok?) I'd watched A LOT of Amazon Prime. And I'd had a vague uneasy feeling all day, that feeling of not being very happy with myself and my choices.

So I woke this morning wanting to avoid that feeling of anxiousness about not doing better - but not sure I'd pull it off. And then I went for a walk. I started out planning a 10 minute walk to the branch library and back to return a book. 60 minutes later I returned smiling ear to ear, having walked around the lake at City Park. I saw a dozen Canadian geese walking single-file along a plowed sidewalk, banks of snow on either side. I saw cute dogs on leashes going crazy in the snow. I saw three people in Nordic gear cross-country skiing in front of the Natural History Museum. 

I focused on my walking posture. Mary Bond would be proud. With a little attention I was pushing off with my toes and a little later in the stride letting my leg swing naturally forward, stretching my tight psoas muscles. 

Then I had the idea. "Wouldn't it be great to do this every day for 30 days?" I commented to my startled husband. 

Just thinking about doing this felt great. How so?

For some time I'd held, just below conscious awareness, a feeling that I needed to get moving. REALLY get moving. I'd been relatively sedentary for awhile. And every now and then, I'd catch that inner knowing, that inner voice telling me I needed to get moving again. Moving A LOT. When you're over 50, sitting too much opens the door to all kinds of ailments and illnesses I DON'T WANT.

Going for the walk, having the experience of enjoying the snow and the outdoors, and then realizing that I was respecting myself - listening to that inner voice that was trying to get me back to balance and health - was glorious. 

And in spite of common sense saying otherwise, deciding to walk every day for 30 days felt like going to Disneyland. I wasn't going to ignore myself and be swayed by whatever emergency came up OUT THERE. I wasn't going to let my mind talk me out of it. I thought about that future I wanted - a trip to Portugal in the fall - and how wonderful it would be to be 15 pounds slimmer and FIT FIT FIT. 

But it was more than that. Really, it was about making a decision to act congruently. To live my values of being healthy and strong. To respect myself and to show that I take my responsibility TO my life and my body seriously. To stop the tug of war between my unconscious programming and habits and who I wanted to be.

My cat was sleeping when I returned home after my walk. But I was AWAKE.

 

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