The Wonders of Walking

This morning, I was prepared to come home and type a post entitled True Confessions, where I was going to tell you how I’ve been struggling the last few days to put one foot in front of the other.  In other words, I have wanted to curl up into a ball and let this deck of cards fall down around me.  I’ve been plugging along, trying to "do the next thing", but my heart’s not in it.

Since last winter, I’ve been saying that Fall 2007 is the beginning of the rest of my life.  It’s time to make working out a priority in my weekly schedule.  I’m not getting any younger.  And the love handles ain’t getting any smaller.  And since the baby factory is now officially closed, the way I figure it, I can’t stop working out until my dying day.  So I’ve been putting it off.  Until today.

My neighbor and I made plans to meet up at the Y, walk on the treadmills together, and then I was going to try to get an orientation on the Nautilus equipment.  By this time next year, I plan to be a lean, mean, iron-pumping machine.  Or at least not have a muffin top when I wear my favorite jeans.

But I’ve already told you how I’ve been feeling this week.  The only reason I drove my car to the Y this morning was because I knew my friend was counting on me to be there.  I wanted to turn around and go home, curl up on the couch, and let R tear the house apart while I twirled my hair and watched reruns of What Not To Wear.  But I fought the urge.

I arrived first, so I located the nursery.  There were probably 25 toddlers in that nursery.  It looked like a zoo.  An overcrowded one, at that.  I wanted to walk right back out. 

One of the workers saw the fear and trepidation on my face and said, "This is your first time?"  I think they thought this was my first child, not my third.  I admitted that I was hesitant to leave her.  R was already protesting, as she always does when I leave her in a childcare situation.  (She always does fine once I leave.)  I took another look and noted that none of the children were crying or unhappy.  So I left her and walked out. 

I hung around for a minute to make sure she was fine.  (She was.)  So I walked back to the lobby to wait for my neighbor, fighting tears every step of the way.  It wasn’t the nursery.  R was fine.  I didn’t know why I felt so upset. 

I stood there thinking, is this depression?  It’s not PMS.  So what’s wrong with me?  And ever the blogger, I began composing this post in my mind.

I know it’s not PC to whine on The Blob.  I really try to keep it happy around here most of the time.  And I am pretty happy most of the time.  I mean, I have my share of The Funk, but it’s usually fairly short-lived and nothing that a bit of sleep and maybe a few hours alone can’t cure.  But this seemed different.

When my friend arrived, we said our hellos and trudged towards the treadmills.  Neither of us were too excited to be there.  We got on the machines and started walking.  (And talking.)

I gave myself the workout of my life.  I kept adjusting the incline, adjusting the speed, up and down, huffing and puffing.  I was beyond perspiring when I was done.  I was sweating like a pig.  Except pigs don’t sweat.  So whatever.

When we finished, we stepped off, grabbed our waters, and went our separate ways with plans to meet up again.  I made an appointment for that Nautilus orientation, and then I retrieved R from the nursery.  She was none the worse for the wear. 

And would you believe what happened next?  Well, I went to Target, but that’s not the surprising part.  And I realize that what I’m about to tell you probably isn’t a surprise to anyone but me.  But I felt like a different woman than the one who walked in there with tears in her eyes an hour before.  Could it be the exercise?

Then it occurred to me that I haven’t been taking my morning walks since last Friday.  Husband has been out of town so my walking partner and I have been taking a break.  I know that exercise is supposed to be a great weapon against depression and a myriad of ailments.  But I’ve never experienced its benefits first-hand.  I guess I’ve never stayed with a cardiovascular exercise program long enough to appreciate its effects.

All summer long I’ve been saying, so when am I supposed to feel the benefits from this early morning torture?  I haven’t noticed any help in weight loss or maintenance.  (If anything, I’ve been struggling more than normal.)  I haven’t noticed increased energy.  (If anything, I’m beat by mid-afternoon from getting up so early.)  I’ve just kept going because of my commitment to my friend and my faith in the experts who say that walking is such a beneficial activity.

But today I saw first-hand the benefits of walking.  Or, rather, the disadvantage of getting used to walking and stopping.  I really felt better.  And the funk didn’t come back.  It’s not that I’m not tired or that I haven’t been short with the kids; it’s nothing that miraculous.  But I feel motivated to go about my business, to put one foot in front of the other and do the next task, even the mundane and the futile tasks, which, let’s face it, pretty much monopolize my life.  In a nutshell, I don’t feel like crawling under a rock anymore.  Who knew?

I guess this means only one thing.  Now I can’t ever stop walking.