It feels funny to say I’ve been walking lately. I mean, I’ve walked since I was ten months old, so to think of walking as exercise is a little silly to me. But if an exercise doesn’t seem like an exercise, is it still an exercise?
I’ve always thought that the best exercises are the ones that you enjoy doing so much that they don’t seem like you’re actually working out. That’s part of why I enjoy swimming, and hiking, and biking. I actually like doing all sorts of exercises – even though I pretty much despise going to the gym (I blame my high school gym teacher who made even the fat kids wear those awful short shorts).
I still have difficulty finding time to work physical activity into my day, but I also believe that excuse is a product of me not setting exercising as a high enough priority in my life. But if I’m going to claim that becoming healthy is a priority and a goal, then I have to try to move exercise up to the top of my To Do list.
So, I’ve been walking lately.
I’ve been walking at the Four Seasons Trail Lodge in Madawaska with a friend. I’ve been walking to various business destinations while at work on Main Street in Fort Kent instead of taking the car. I’ve even walked in two parades in the past couple of months.
The progress is painfully slow – and I do mean painfully. When I started, I could barely make it around my block without hurting. But, little by little, I’ve managed to increase the distance. In fact, during the last parade I walked in with the Fiddlehead Focus crew – Fort Kent’s Scarecrow Festival and University of Maine at Fort Kent’s Homecoming parade – I walked the entire parade route (almost 3 miles) with little consequence. I was pretty proud of myself. I realize that I’m hardly ready to run a marathon, but I’m confident that with baby steps I can continue to achieve my fitness goals. Who knows? Maybe by next summer, if I keep up the good work, I’ll be ready to climb Mount Katahdin.
It’s nice to feel encouraged – and I think people should always feel good about their physical accomplishments. But I want to touch for a moment on discouraging moments, because life is full of them, and unless we know how to deal with them, they can sabotage us at every turn.
One major discouragement that I’ve had recently is that, despite my increase in physical activity, the scale has not budged. I know why. It’s because my increase in physical activity has been accompanied by an increase in my food intake. I figured out that when I work out, I become hungry. Go figure. What I need to do is make sure that my food choices are healthier than they have been. It’s about taking responsibility for my choices, rather than making excuses.
Sometimes, though, the discouraging moments are out of our control. My husband and a group of our friends decided to go for a hike after a dinner party. This was earlier on in my hiking excursions and so my husband, who is quite protective of me, was concerned for my ability to handle the trails. Because he is the person who has to listen to me whine when my legs hurt at night, he is probably the most in-tune with my capabilities. However, occasionally, he lacks tact. Our group was at a turning point on the trails where we could continue forward, or turn back towards base camp. He announced to the whole group that since I was the least “in-shape” of all of us, that the decision should rest with me. I was humiliated that he chose that moment to make such an obvious declaration of my level of “un”fitness to all of our friends who were eager to continue.
A similar situation occurred at the beginning of the last parade I walked. At the beginning of the parade, several of my co-workers and other walkers in our group all decided that they needed to ask me – repeatedly – if I was sure I’d be able to walk the whole route. It might not be so bad if they were asking everybody that question, but, no, it was only directed to me – the fat one in the group.
Here’s the thing I came to realize only later. Not one person who was asking me this question intended to make me feel bad. They were all simply concerned for my well-being, and being familiar with the medical issues I have with my legs, they wanted to ensure my safety.
Despite that realization, though, I have to admit to feeling intense pleasure in finishing the parade route and proving to them all that I could do it.