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.

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20 Responses

  1. I couldn’t stop reading this entry–I have lurked for awhile but this is the first time I just HAD to comment! I always enjoy reading your blog and this post was wonderful!

  2. I am trying to walk 4 days a week. It is hard to do by myself, but easier with my husband (literally easier because he pushes the stroller).

    It does do wonders for a depression.

    Much luck to you.

  3. Exercise = endorphins. Totally a good thing. I am a nurse and work extensively with patients in a variety of rehab settings. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen people empowered and uplifted by exercise. God commands us to take care of our bodies. He created us and He knows the links he created, you know ?

  4. I completely understand what you mean. If i miss a couple days of working out I end up grumpy and funky. My husband ends up asking me what’s wrong all the time. Exercise really does work some kind of magic. Welcome back!

  5. I can completely attribute my depression and anxiety BAD days to not exercising. It releases ceritonin (not sure if I spelled that correctly). I am thinking I have to find another way to work out…we have to kick the gym membership to the curb as we aren’t using it enough…I was thinking of riding my bike????

  6. Oh man do I ever get this! Just the other day I wrote a poopy post and felt ackward doing so for the same reasons as you wrote. Then I realized I haven’t walked for over a week. Dragged my heavy hearted body out of bed real early this morning and took all my aggressions out on that pavement. Just like you my day was so much better. Isn’t that weird? But I thought just like you, Crap…now I can’t stop walking!

  7. I want to be a walker. I really do.

    Only I haven’t got your … whatever it is you got… that makes you get up and DO IT.

    I want it!!! (think: whine intoned cry there.)

  8. I had the exact same experience. Every time I stop, I get inexplicably down. Once I drag my butt out of the house and start moving, I come back feeling fantastic and my mood is drastically changed.

    Also, visiting with your friend may have helped too. Keeping in touch with friends does wonders. 🙂

  9. OH nuts. You are the sign from the universe that I really need to get back into exercising myself. Just last week I started trying to eat better, but I haven’t added exercise yet. I know I need to. It’s hard to get motivated and get going though!

    But yes, the feeling after exercise is nice. I could use some good endorphines. 🙂

  10. Yall. I’ve never had the . . . whatever it is I’ve got . . . lol. Until this spring when a friend said, “Would you be willing to walk with me a few mornings a week?”

    And that was the beginning of a beautiful love story. No, not with my friend, I already loved her. With WALKING!

    Honestly, I’d NEVER do it if she wasn’t waiting for me. NEVER. Which is why I have lassoed another friend into meeting me at the Y b/c I know that I will only go if I have someone counting on me.

    (I plan to keep walking in the mornings till it gets too cold. The Y is more for weight training than walking, although I will walk there if I don’t get to walk outside.)

  11. I totally related to this post (is there a theme here?). I was in such a funk last week and COULD NOT pull myself out, but looking back now, the not working out regularly thing was probably a part of it. Thanks for putting 2 and 2 together! 🙂

  12. Yeah, me too. I’ve been walking 3 miles a day almost constantly since I was in my 20s (that’s almost 20 years!) and if I stop for a week or two, I get sad and lethargic and hopeless. I really think our bodies were meant to do that kind of work every day. Some days it feels like punishment to actually do it, but I think the punishment lies in the NOT doing it, to be honest. I’m glad this “light” has come on for you. It’ll make dragging yourself out of bed each day a little easier from now on, I bet. Hugs – M

  13. Oh, I feel you. I discovered that same thing about three years ago and have worked out pretty consistently six days a week since then. If I miss a day – I’m mean. Seriously. I can’t function and I usually can’t figure out why. But next day, get up on that treadmill, go for a run, and the world is right again. Yay for you!

  14. Oh, can I tell you, at 29w5d pregnant, unable to get out and about for my daily (2 mile) walks (due to complications), I’m really, really feeling the “ick” set in. It’s true. You can NEVER stop walking. Okay, maybe occasionally.

    That said, GOOD FOR YOU! 🙂

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