Friday, April 08, 2011

Hidden Treasure

Last night, our meeting was focused on the 2011 Weight Watchers Walk-It! Challenge …. If you are a member, or friend of a member, or complete stranger and want to take part, WE’D LOVE TO HAVE YOU!!! It’s a way to get started on activity/exercise if you’re not doing any right now – or to have a goal to work toward, if you’ve never done a 5K.

I saw a factoid last week which stated that walking is the one activity that people are least likely to quit or give up on. Well, why not? It’s free! Truly, all you need are two working feet – and as a grandchild of two disabled people, trust me, I don’t take that requirement lightly. It does help if you have a good pair of walking shoes. You don't have to have the highest-priced shoe on the market, just something with the proper support. But really, that’s it. There are lots more bells and whistles you can get, but that’s really all they are (says the girl with the closet full of workout gear – all being used, but that’s not the point).

When I first started incorporating exercise into my daily life, walking was literally all I could do. At 400-plus pounds, it was the only thing that I thought was feasible. The idea of me doing a 5K was a pipe dream. It took everything I had to walk out 2 blocks to a friend’s house and back -- every ounce of energy, breath, and 10 minutes each day. But I worked hard and was able to increase my time and distance as I got healthier and lighter. Fifteen months after joining WW, I did my first 5K (the 2007 Race for the Cure). I did my next at the 2008 Race for the Cure, shaving just over TEN minutes off my time. Six months after that, I did a local 5K to benefit a scholarship fund, and at that point, I had shaved another EIGHT minutes off my time. This past December, I did a 5K and was about 30 seconds short of my personal best.... Oh, was I disappointed. And for the life of me, it's been two years of frustration to break a specific time barrier. But by golly, I am going to hit that mark if I have to (gasp, dare I say it?) run more than just a little part of the way. Oh yeah, that time mark will be mine one day!

There's plenty of information about the physical benefits of activity, and we're starting to see more about the mental benefits. I can truly vouch that I have experienced this first hand, many times. The times when I have needed a relief from stress, a quick walk around the building or the block will clear my head. Somehow, either the problem is gone or resolved by the time I come back, or at least I'm better able to deal with it in a rational frame of mind. Tonight as we spoke on this topic, I mentioned that for me, something about the rhythm of the pounding of my feet against the pavement somehow helps. I know, weird, huh? But then Denise (our leader) noted that we rock our babies or we walk them around the room or we do something rhythmic to calm them.... why wouldn't it work for us as adults?

And she's absolutely right. I've mentioned before about my "running dream" ... it's a visual image I've had for years of myself engaged in running. Even when I was at my heaviest, I would have this mental picture where I was always running. I remember lying there in that half-sleep -- just content to be still and let the dream image unfold -- and the rhythm, the pounding of my feet, the music that always accompanied this imagery was enough to send me right on into the beauty of a full sleep. I felt that same rhythm last night, on an elliptical at nearly running speed, headset in my ears and good inspiring music pouring into my brain, and a rhythm to every exercise I did. I almost believe that the rhythm of life is making its way through us when we honor our bodies by giving it oxygen and lifeforce, and honor it with healthy foods. As we grow closer and closer to wholeness and a more integrated lifestyle, our minds join in as well. Laugh if you will, because yeah, it sounds a little kooky .... but there's a part of me that thinks we're on to something.

So let's do our bodies, minds, brains, hearts, and souls good --- get back to the basics of life!!! Eat right, move more, get better, repeat.

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