For 12 weeks I've been part of the City of Evanston's Women Out Walking Program. Twelve-hundred women pledged to change their exercise routines. My goal was 10,000 steps a day, the minimum number of steps one needs to stay healthy.
During the course of the WOW program I only made that goal 6 times. Pathetic, I know. One time I actually started running up and down the stairs in the house at 9:30 PM because I was just shy of my goal by 400 steps.
Sunday was the last day of the program which included seminars on healthy eating, introductions to tai chi and incentives for walkers to upped their steps by 10% each week.
So now it's week 13 and I need to go it on my own.
I usually wake up around 5:30 AM in the summer. Up until 2 years ago, I used to get up and walk or bike first thing in the morning. I switched my routine so I could write while the house was still quiet or clean while no one was underfoot.
Somehow I'd never find the time to walk. Once the day got started I'd be glued to my chair in front of the computer. Net effect? I gained 25 pounds and I had to go on statins.
Throughout the whole WOW program, I was struggling to get over 5,000 steps a day. One time racking up only 3,445 when I had a deadline.
This morning I decided I would switch the routine because the weatherman says today is going to be sweltering after the rain and the warm front moved in over night. So I had a cup of tea and put my walking shoes on.
I started by walking to the post box, then up the street through downtown Evanston, then turned toward the lake. I said hello to construction workers and commiserated about the rising humidity. A dog walker and I exchanged some observations about a baby bunny who was hiding under the viaduct. Before I knew it, I was at the park and joined in with the other walkers and runners.
I watched one woman move from a walk to a trot as runners past her by, as if she was being pulled along in their slip stream. I used to do that, giving my walking routine a little boost. There was also another woman who passed me. She probably outweighed me by 60 pounds and I could see the effort it took to carry that extra weight at a jog. But she was undaunted. I wanted to yell, "You go, girl," but I didn't want her to think I was mocking rather than encouraging her.
All in all it was a relaxed and fulfilling time. I thought. I planned. Then I stopped thinking and planning and just enjoyed the morning. It was kind of like meditation. It took awhile for the chatter in my head to die down but when it did my mood became expansive.
When I got back home I realized we had no milk. So I got my granny cart and hustled over to the local Whole Foods. When the milk was safely in the refrigerator, I finally checked the pedometer. 10,145 steps before 8 AM!
Switching the schedule was all that I needed. The added bonus, if you can call it that, is I'll have to wash the floors tonight, instead of parking myself on the couch to watch TV.
My take away? Exercise first thing in the morning. But don't just get it out of the way. Breath in and enjoy every moment.