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Just walk to the end of the block. Trust me!

“Just walk to the end of the block, Lor,” my friend Jim urged enthusiastically. “Then see if the next day you can walk a little further and eventually you’ll make it all the way around the block.”

Jim is a great friend. One that has known me for 20+ years, watching me balloon to my all-time high weight of 381 lbs by my late 40’s.

As my close friend and confidant, he was also witness to my internal sadness, increasing complaints of health problems, and my shrinking life as I played victim to the weight. And, when I finally got serious and embarked on a successful transformation journey to drop 200+ lbs, he was without question one of my biggest cheerleaders.

There was a time when walking to the end of my block seemed impossible — and I live in the middle of the block, so the distance was more like 1/2 block. I had every excuse in the book. But it was really only impossible because I made it so in my head. I was absolutely capable of walking that half a block and then some, but my mind was stopping me and I didn’t even try. Perhaps some of you reading this can relate.

Well, little did I know at the time, I would go on to walk that block and then some on a journey to put myself in the equation of my own life and take care of me.

I certainly couldn’t have imagined during that conversation years ago that I would go on to walk my way to well being. Or, that just a few years later I would walk a half-marathon almost as fast as others ran it. Nor could I have imagined leading walking groups of women who wanted to learn how to put themselves in the equation of their own lives. Or, that I would be hiking major trails and up mountains for pure enjoyment.

But, here I am doing just that! I’ve become a lover of walking and hiking — my preferred form of exercise. I’ve lost and kept off 200 lbs in the process. And I feel better both inside and out when I am moving. So I guess you could say, I’m a walking success story!

Get moving for National Walking Day

The American Heart Association has deemed today National Walking Day, #nationalwalkingday. A day to create awareness of the benefits of walking to better health. I simply couldn’t resist the temptation to chime in, as well as to lace up my winter hiking boots and go for a nice long walk around my neighborhood lake. (Yes, we got a foot of snow on April 3rd in MN and it’s a winter wonderland, not!)

I started my transformation journey in 2010 by walking. Eventually, I was walking blocks, then miles, and then rigorously hiking trails and ultimately climbing mountains. Not only have I walked my way to better health, happiness, and overall well being, but to a longer, healthier life. According to the Blue Zones Project, walking (or any form of natural movement you do consistently) increases your longevity — and not just your life expectancy, but the number of years you live healthily. For me, that’s a BIG DEAL as stroke, heart disease and diabetes all run in my family.

Walking hasn’t just helped me lose weight, it’s been good for my overall health — mind, body and spirit. It has helped me keep the happy, healthy and in-the-equation ME (sans -200 lbs) for almost six years now. Walking is my favorite and preferred form of cardio. And it works!

So, today, I loudly and enthusiastically advocate for #nationalwalkingday. Take a look at just a few of the proven benefits of walking. And then JOIN ME in taking a walk today — wherever you are in your journey. Lace up those tennis shoes (or boots if you live in MN) and let’s get moving! Trust me, it’s an absolutely a win if the best you can do is walk to the end of the block. Start there, then PM me and let me know you did it. I was where you are and I get it. I also know you CAN do it!

Here are some of the benefits of walking according to the American Heart Association & the Blue Zones Project:

  • Lose weight; maintain your body weight and lower the risk of obesity & obesity-related diseases
  • Reduce your risk of coronary heart disease and stroke
  • Improve your blood pressure, blood sugar levels and blood lipid profile
  • Enhance your mental well-being
  • Improve your mood
  • Strengthen bones and muscles
  • Connects you to nature and can be a form of mindfulness
  • Reduce your risk of osteoporosis
  • Reduce your risk of breast and colon cancer
  • Reduce your risk of non-insulin dependent (type 2) diabetes
  • Increase your longevity and improve your healthy years

My tips for getting started AND sticking with it:

  • Start where you are and do a little — if you’re making excuses like I did, note it and do it anyway!  🙂
  • Progress a little farther and do a little more each day; challenge yourself to beat your previous distance.
  • Invite a walking buddy or partner to join you. You’re more likely to DO it and enjoy it if you are accountable to someone other than yourself and it’s fun and goes by fast.
  • Sign up and walk a 5K or 10K with friends. You don’t have to run. The Color Run 5K was my first and I loved it. It was not about the competition, but rather just getting out and getting moving.
  • Walk as a family — get your kids out before or after dinner — this encourages you, them and creates healthy family habits.
  • Walk your dog — I LOVED my walks every day with my favorite dogs and was way more motivated knowing they needed and wanted to walk.
  • Get a fitness tracker to help log your distance and track your overall miles. These are great not just for tracking but motivation, you can even challenge others to a walking/step competition if you have a competitive spirit.
  • Note the emotional benefits, as well as the physical ones. I always feel better inside and have clearer thoughts when I get outside and walk in nature. Nature is as good for the soul as the exercise itself.

Read some of my favorite articles and resources on walking:

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