I can’t really explain my relationship with exercise. I want to do it, and really need to do it. But, I’ve never found something that I gel with. I like pilates, but that’s not going to get me to Elle MacPherson. I hate cycling (snoooore). Running is out. Another tall friend tells me that it’s because I’m tall that I can’t run – she says we’re like Great Danes and our joints take too much strain. I mean…it sounds like it holds water. But, I do happen to live in one of the most beautiful places ever (Knysna) and I love walking. Still, I was worried that it wasn’t…enough. But, I like it and it works up a sweat so it’s what I do. And, when I do (did) it often, I noticed that I lost weight. Say whaaat?! Ok, to some of you that may be obvious. But, I’ve tried everything over the years (personal trainers, diets, cycling 25 to 40km three times a week, Curves, dancing…) and I just gained. It took me a while to figure out that it was my thyroid. But, I’m still in the “You’ll never lose weight” frame of mind. So, imagine my surprise when a few brisk walks had me losing.
Actually, you don’t have to imagine it. Brad will make it come to life. via GIPHY
And now, following winter, I haven’t been walking. And I see it and feel it. So, it’s science.
I thought I’d share the love with some tips to make your walk work for you (whether your goal is to lose weight, stay moving, or just enjoy the therapy that is sunshine and fresh air):
I’m of the opinion that any regular exercise is good. So, you’d need to walk at least three or four times a week, but mix it up with jumping on the trampoline, swimming, stand-up paddling, skipping rope, cycling, or whatever else you enjoy.Start off slow and steadily increase the distance and speed as you get stronger and fitter.
Keep it interesting
Oh my hat, I get bored so easily. So, it’s important (to me, anyway) to keep it fun and engaging. I listen to recordings of interesting talks and go different routes. Sometimes, I take my daughter. Other times, my husband. Sometimes, I walk to her school to fetch her (not her favourite days). Whatever it takes for you to keep interested, do that thing. You’re probably not going to keep it up if you’re bored.
Do it right
Stretch before you go (I’m being a total hypocrite by saying that, by the way). But, if you’re not a stretcher, then start off at a slower pace until you warm up, then speed it up a little. Go fast enough that you can talk, but you can’t sing. Keep at that pace for at least 30 minutes a day (regardless of the exercise you choose to do). As you get used to it, go a little longer and a little faster.
Keep your head up and your body relaxed. Don’t look down at your feet.
Walking is amazing for you. But, it can’t stand up against a bad diet. I’m not talking some strict calorie-restricted regime. Just make good (or better) choices every day. Be strict about cutting sugar and lowering your carbs, but don’t go crazy. It’s all about maintaining a lifestyle, which will be impossible if you’re constantly feeling pressured and deprived.
Don’t push yourself to walk every single day. This will, again, rob you of the joy. Have a day or two off. Spoil yourself.
Friends in need
I try to invite different people in my neighbourhood to go on walks with me. This is also a great way to catch up with friends in an otherwise-busy schedule. And, you’re inspiring them to a healthier lifestyle too. They’ll thank you. Eventually.
Wrapping it up
I realise all of these suggestions aren’t rocket science. But don’t they make it a little more manageable? A little easier to start? I know that I feel loads better when I’m active. I have more energy, my body system works better, I sleep a little better, and I feel more optimistic. What kind of blogger would I be if I didn’t share these little nuggets of joy and fulfillment?