Anxiety runs in my family and is something I’ve always lived with. I’ve done things like yoga, running, and various fad boutique fitness centers to try and focus my energy and calm my nerves, but those activities always felt like more of a chore for me than as a way to gain strength and peace.
On top of that, I was frustrated with myself when I would hear or read about people’s positive, stress-relieving experiences from their yoga practices and I wasn’t getting the same results. I would start to compare myself with others and wonder what I was doing wrong. And I know that’s the opposite intent of yoga.
Then a couple of months ago my funds got low and I eventually had to give up my membership to the different classes I had been going to. So I found myself without a gym or an instructor to motivate me. That’s when the weather started getting nicer and I began taking longer walks with my dog, Pierre.
At first we’d just go to the park near my apartment and do a couple of laps. Then we began to venture out toward Deep Ellum and sometimes even downtown. It seemed like every time we walked we would see something new, whether it was a mural, restaurant, or even a butterfly there was always something to see. And I began to feel even more connected with my neighborhood.
Pierre didn’t mind how slow I went, not even when I stopped to take pictures, or just gaze at the scenery. He was the perfect walking partner, and our “gym” was free!
Every day I felt my legs getting stronger. I could tell my body was changing, even if no one else noticed. I felt more energized at work, I became more confident in my movements, and I felt more toned overall. More importantly, my mood was improving.
I started waking up early before work to get an hour walk in so I could clear my mind and start the day off slow.
The more I’d walk, the more I began to challenge myself to go further. I downloaded a step counting app (Stepz) and started keeping my phone on me more regularly to monitor my progress. It really is crazy how quickly the steps can add up! I believe my longest distance day to date is 10.9 miles–man, did I sleep well that night (great sleep, another perk of all the walking)!
I’ve only been at it about a couple months now, but my monthly goal is 100 miles. Last month I surpassed that by 28.5 miles! I never thought I would accomplish that, especially when in the previous months I’d barely hit 50 miles.
I know that walking might not seem as impressive as running a marathon or going hard in CrossFit, but I would disagree. It’s all about maintaining an active lifestyle, and one that you enjoy. And if what you enjoy is yoga, then by all means go for it! I’m just saying what has worked for me.
And I want to encourage you too. Hey, there’s no shame in the walking game. It’s fun, relaxing, easy on the joints, and it will get you in shape! Seriously, you might be surprised how few steps you are taking in a day, and how just some small mindful changes can increase that number and make a big difference in how you look and feel.
What do you do to stay fit and ward off stress?
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