So, something I’ve noticed about the topic of the best way to lose weight: everybody has an opinion. Cut out fat, cut out sugar, cut out carbs, avoid cheese, count calories, join a program and on and on. And in my experience you can find expert evidence to support all of those ideas. The one thing most people agree on though, is that exercise is important.
But even that gets variations: walking is good enough, walking is not enough, or it is enough if you are moving fast enough. Running is better. Running isn’t really that great. Classes are more effective. Just do a 10 minute video at home–they really work! And again, I’m sure if not expert research there is at least plenty of anecdotal evidence to support them all.
This week I was all set to join a gym. Excuse me, not a gym, a health club. It’s an expense I really shouldn’t splurge on, financially speaking, but it’s something that is important enough to me I can figure it out. This place looks great. It’s the closest gym to my house, and it’s big, with plenty of equipment, classes, a nice pool and even a juice bar. If you recall, I really love my liquids.
But then, in a ridiculous and embarrassing misstep, I sprained my wrist while trying to maneuver a large suitcase. I figured the cross-trainers and ellipticals I wanted to use would not be the best thing for it, so instead I put off the gym a week and I’ve been walking.
Walking is how I’ve been exercising for several months now, but I think with my new detoxified energy, I’m moving faster so it feels like more of a workout. I’ve been walking an hour a day, and by the end, I can feel it. Even though I am excited to join a gym when my wrist is healed, exercising outdoors has a certain appeal to it. Time of year in particular, everything looks and feels beautiful.
So, I mentioned to a small group of friends that I was enjoying this, and some day wouldn’t mind learning how to run. I say learning how because it is not an intuitive movement for me. I still have post traumatic flashbacks to the required 9th grade mile run. Except my mile run looked more like desperate flailing played back in slow motion than actual running. I just have never mastered how to do it.
But before that point, I’m not sure my body could even handle running right now, which is what I told my friends who were encouraging me. For reference, one of these friends is a doctor about to start a fellowship in sports medicine, one is a marathon runner and one is a non-runner, but instead does all the fun workouts like the ballet barre and reformer Pilates.
They all encouraged me to keep up with the walking and see what happens from there. The doctor’s words were, “Walking counts!” She said it so forcefully like people don’t believe her but she knows it’s true. Then later, basically, my body will get so accustomed to being able to move free form via walking, gradually working in a one or two minute jog will feel easy. Eventually. And then I can keep evolving from there.
On the other hand, the non-runner friend said someone she knows has lost nearly 100 pounds just from walking. He has essentially given up his car altogether and walks absolutely everywhere. Any errands he needs to run, he walks. Pun intended. I’m sort of skeptical of that, because she said he didn’t even change his eating habits, but I do like the concept.
The point is that movement is important.
I’m still pretty excited to join a gym. But I found the story of the man who walks uplifting, and I like the idea of walking until one day running is just the next natural step. Pun still intended. It’s like, if you’ve ever seen at the movie the Usual Suspects, at the end a character transforms his gait and becomes an entirely different person. I don’t have any interest in organized crime and being an Eastern-European mob boss, but the idea transcends.
I’ve spent the last two or three weeks, and all of this blog, focusing just on changing my food habits. But that’s not the only habit that needs adjusting. I’m excited to see how much farther and faster I can go on foot, and to see how much more motivated I get once I’m in a gym and surrounded by equally motivated people.
So no more ignoring the exercise part of the plan.