Walking My Way Back Home

“Walking is the best possible exercise. Habituate yourself to walk very far.”

~Thomas Jefferson

 

About 6 months ago, I embarked on a journey to regain my health.  A more serious exercise than I had been engaged in previously. To get closer to my goals of healthy habits, and a healthy body, mind and spirit. I had already cleaned up my diet per my health provider.  We had worked on an eating plan for me and my issues, which included no sugar….yes none…..and no refined carbs.  And I committed myself to that diet which has certainly helped.

But I was lacking the needed push, to move me to the next level of healing.  So my health provider said, ‘Let’s get you walking more.’  Now I have to preface this by saying I hate walking….especially walking alone. I find it boring, and if the weather is cold, hot, rainy, or snowy I won’t go. But he was adamant that walking would help.  And not just taking a long walk when the mood hit.  No he was looking for an even stronger commitment from me.  I was to walk 3 times a day, 30 minutes after each meal.

Really?!  Walk more.  Yes, but I needed to start slow….10 minutes a walk was good place to start, especially since I tend to go all out and then end up with shin splints or knee issues from overdoing it the first day. And why 30 minutes after each meal? Because that is the opportune time to walk as your blood sugar is peaking then.

 

 

How The Journey Began

During the summer heat, I embarked on this walking journey.  Sometimes alone, mostly in the beginning with my husband.  In the cool of the morning and the heat of the afternoon, I walked over the same route around the neighborhood three times a day.

And I found my body acclimated quickly. I was increasing the distance and intervals to 20-30 minutes and more in no time.  Even on vacation, we managed to get in 2 walks most days.

As the weather changed to rain and colder temps, I just changed my outdoor apparel and persevered.  And yes I even walked in the dark….actually, for me, a favorite time of day to walk.  Then the cold and snow hit in December, and I adjusted again putting on 2 and 3 layers and my old walking boots.  I slogged through 3-4 inches of snow on the road as if I was gliding on cross-country skis….and I loved it.

Recently though with Arctic temps below zero, and fierce winds making the roads icy and the air dangerously cold, I have been relegated to my combo treadmill, elliptical, stepper machine which I hate.  My knees don’t like the incline and oh it is sooooo booooring! But I still persevere on it for shorter stints, and go out sometimes once a day in the afternoon when temps are in the balmy 20s, and the streets are not covered in ice.

 

 

So What Have Been The Benefits

I discovered much on this journey including finding a healing miracle. I dropped 20 lbs, lowered my blood sugar by 30 points and felt increased energy and stamina. And there was also a residual benefit to all this walking, that was not just physical. My mental, emotional and spiritual health also improved.

I found I enjoyed walking alone, many times, as it was very meditative….slow and repetitive like deep breathing in and out. A stream of consciousness…thoughts flowing.

I had bursts of mental acuity that helped me see issues differently.  My moods changed, and I felt more connected to nature experiencing first-hand the seasonal changes. And I got to know my neighborhood. Did I mention I am an introvert who doesn’t go out much? No, well I am, so walking in public where I might encounter people I don’t know was not appealing at first. Of course my neighbors got to know me better too.  And the neighborhood dogs definitely got to know me. We have an understanding, and I enjoy seeing them as much as they enjoy barking at and greeting me.

 

 

Challenges, Yes I Had A Few

Challenges were many on this journey….mental, physical and seasonal…..the biggest was just psyching myself up to get out there everyday no matter what, especially during inclement weather. But I kept the benefits front and center…healing my whole self! Yes that mattered the most, the healing that was occurring.

I have to say the winter weather is slowing my progress, but I am not letting it get me down. I am still committed to this healing journey, and am adapting with it….now that’s another lesson I have learned as well!  Not giving up, but accepting the challenge and finding a softer way to work through it and keep going.

And with my Word of the Year being,TEND, this journey will continue as I lovingly Tend to my health.

 

 

So how about you. Do you make time in your life to Tend to your own needs? Do you give enough time to yourself and your well-being?

 


A Winter’s Vase

 

Yes I know this is not a vase, but it is tied to a vase from late fall.  On the New Year, I cast old rose petals onto the snow and gave them back to the earth.  They made such a beautiful, symbolic picture.

 

 

The rose petals came in part from this last rose in a vase cut before the final hard frost stopped the blooms in my garden months ago.

 

 

Now the winter bulbs are finally blooming, and this first no-name Hippeastrum is the first showing off.

I am joining Cathy@Rambling in the Garden for her wonderful In A Vase on Monday meme. The pictures shared here were created with my iPod Touch camera and two free apps, Pixlr and Prisma.

I am posting poetry, almost weekly on Sundays, on my other blog, Living From Happiness.  You can read my latest poem here.

All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Gardens Eye View, 2010-2018.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.

58 comments

  1. Laura Bloomsbury says:

    this is quite a journey you have taken Donna – and hats off to you! I can see you have made good of your time away from the virtual world and stepped into the real neighbourhood- the garden awaits your tenderness but for now it leaves you in peace to go your own way.

  2. Ciar says:

    A lovely account of your healing journey Donna. I definitely agree that walking is good for the soul. Like you I have been trying to cut out sugar and refined carbs and now I need to add in more exercise, but it is difficult when it is cold outside.

  3. Sarah Russell says:

    Donna, this is such an inspiring story! I’m proud of anyone taking charge of their life like you have. I had not heard the tip about walking after a meal, and I think I’ll take your doctor’s advice too and try it. My dog is my personal trainer, and I know that he’ll be up for an extra walk. Hats off to you. Keep tending to your whole self!

  4. Peter says:

    Beautiful image of giving the rose petals back to the earth. I love what you do with your photographs; what program do you use? Someday, I must learn how to play with images more.
    I salute your dedication to walking. I’ve also found it to be a great way to relieve stress, lower my blood sugar, and regain my health. I also don’t consume sugar or simple carbs and have found a lot of great recipes and tips from Forks Over Knives and Plant Strong.
    Happy Walking!

    • Donna says:

      Thanks so much Peter! I use the apps Pixlr and Prisma. They are really quite easy to use and lots of fun! I will have to check out your resources for recipes….and kudos to you for your healing journey too.

  5. Christina Thompson says:

    I’m glad you’re beginning to feel better. Walking is good but like you I would find three times a day difficult I do walk a lot around the garden, to and from the greenhouse, along the woodland path, but I know that isn’t enough. Keep going; I’m sure the benefits will help you keep at it.

  6. Cathy says:

    I am so proud of what you have achieved, Donna- and if yoou can keep it up over these winter months then there should be no problem maintaining your good practises when the weather becomes more clement again. It’s wonderful that the physical benefits are accompanied also by the mental, emotional and spiritual ones too and it’s no surprise you are feeling so much better. Well done you. The smbolism of returning the rose petals to the earth made me think, so thanks for sharing these images too

    • Donna says:

      Thanks Cathy and yes keeping it going during winter is key. I had to stop for a few weeks due to flu and illness and it was hard to get back into walking inside. But not outside…..unfortunately it seems I have to walk inside more this winter. Glad you liked the photos and the rose petals.

  7. brenda clements jones says:

    Hey Donna! Another introvert here. BUT I live in the middle of nowhere, up in the mountains with bears as neighbors. When I walk there might be one pickup truck that passes, and waves. Nice amount of interaction there. Funny thing about that interaction. So many people know who I am because of my walking on the lonely mountain road. I hardly know anyone. We don’t stop and chat – fine with me, but evidently they go home and chat about me and compare notes. AND they are concerned and on some rare occasions someone will let me know of their concern. But it’s MY road, my way to get into nature, my exercise.
    Keep at it Donna. It is SO GOOD for you physically and mentally! <3

    • Donna says:

      Wow that is amazing Brenda…..my neighbors keep asking why I walk 3 times and isn’t that too much. But I assure them I have never felt healthier! Keep up those lovely mountain walks yourself!

  8. Alison says:

    Good for you on getting out and walking! I actually enjoy walking for all the reasons you state, I’ve found it to be a great meditative exercise. What I don’t like are the big dogs in my town that are allowed to run around loose. They’re a big reason why I gave up walking a few years ago. I’ve also occasionally given up sugar and simple carbs in the past, but I’m afraid I’m a carb junkie, and I always go back to it.

    • Donna says:

      Oh that would be a problem for me as well Alison, big dogs on the loose. I do give the dogs a wide berth here even if on the leash or in the yard with their owners.

  9. Kathy says:

    Great for you Donna! I love to walk in Cedar Key but the minute I get back up North I drop the habit. It just doesn’t feel the same as when I walk here. I do more yoga up North which I haven’t gotten into the habit here, but plan to. Yoga really rounds everything out for me. I don’t attend a class – it’s just me and my mat. I really do try to take time for my “wealth” because no matter what you have, if you don’t have your health … I am glad you are tending to yourself! Keep up the great work!

    • Donna says:

      Thanks Kathy…..I have wanted to start yoga but have had to wait due to physical issues…..I even tried it for a short time and had to stop. But I think in time I may develop my own yoga habit…slow and steady.

  10. Angie @ Running in Bloom says:

    This is such a wonderful post. So full of color even in the winter photos. I am so glad that you embarked on a walking journey. I myself am a runner but when the body can’t handle it, walking is second best. So I commend you on this. And your results so far are excellent!

  11. Kris P says:

    Well done, Donna! After I retired, I began walking each morning and stepped that up further when we moved to our current (hilly) location shortly thereafter. I cam to love it too but my right knee didn’t and my orthopedist actually discouraged rigorous walking. I still haven’t had a knee replacement but I’m about to throw caution to the wind and start walking regularly again. It IS an excellent meditative tool.

    • Donna says:

      My knees do discourage vigorous walking too….luckily my area is flat so no hills. Here’s to keeping good thoughts for your knees as you embark on walking again Kris.

  12. Island Threads says:

    you have worked hard Donna, I am glad you have discovered that walking alone with nature is wonderfully meditative imho, I love walking but do not do as much as I used to, and well done on the dietary changes too, you are a new woman,

    take care, Frances

  13. Cathy says:

    Hippeastrums are now an essential in my home in winter – aren’t they wonderful flowers!
    Pleased you have learned to enjoy walking – the benefits are good news too Donna, so well done for keeping at it. I love walking and find it very calming and great for gathering my thoughts. 🙂

  14. Elephants Child says:

    Wonderful, wonderful news. I need to walk more, but here in the sweaty season it just isn’t possible for me for most of the day. (I know, excuses, excuses).
    I am so glad that it is having huge and positive results.
    I am an introvert too, but find that the encounters I have whle walking are brief enough to be manageable.
    And know the names of the dogs and cats in our neighbourhood more reliably than the people.

  15. rusty duck says:

    That’s great news Donna!
    I do enjoy walking but don’t do enough of it. There’s no shortage of exercise but it’s the sort that involves running around and getting stuff (mostly the chores) done and that’s not the same thing. We live half an hour from glorious beaches and cliff top walks. I really don’t have any excuse.
    Keep up the good work!

  16. Eliza says:

    I am so impressed with your fitness regime, Donna! 90 minute /day is no small feat. The payoff seems to make it worth it. Thanks for the inspiration!

  17. Margaret says:

    Wow – 30 minutes 3x per day! My goal is 30 minutes 3x per WEEK and I still have a hard time sticking to it even though I actually love walking. Way to go, Donna – you are an inspiration to us all 🙂

    • Donna says:

      Thanks Margaret….it took retirement and going slow….some walks were 20-30 minutes and others shorter if I didn’t have lots of time. Any walking you do is great….

  18. Beth @ PlantPostings says:

    That’s impressive, Donna! I honestly don’t think I could do it–give up the sugar or walk so much every day. In the summer, it’s easier, but wow–you even committed during the coldest days. Good for you!

  19. AlisonC says:

    I salute you and am pleased to know that you are benefiting from your endeavours. It can only get easier from now on. We can all learn form this and look after our bodies as we only get one!

  20. Susan Clark says:

    Good for you! I am so impressed by the number of times you go out and the discipline you have shown to keep it up. I have a brisk walk once a day with the dogs but my favourite way to be out is strolling, through the forest, along the beach etc. Does strolling count, is it too slow to get any physical benefit? I think your medical provider is very wise, and you have been wise to take the advice and generous to pass it on.

  21. debsgarden says:

    Hi Donna, your story is inspirational! I often say I will take care of myself and have the best of intentions, but too often I let things slide “just this once.” I admire your determination in the face of cold weather. My nemesis! Congratulations on all the great benefits you are reaping and best wishes for 2018!

  22. Karin Hicks/Southern Meadows says:

    Good for you, overcoming hurdles and challenges! I love walking. I take the dogs out for a walk twice most days but it is definitely easy to talk oneself out of it when it is really cold or pouring with rain. I make walking an adventure. I challenge myself to find at least 1 new thing when I walk routine routes. I didn’t know that it is best to walk 30 minutes after meals. I will try making that my routine and see if I get new results. Keep up your excellent routine!

  23. Frank says:

    Awesome. Someday soon I’ll need to make the same commitment, these winters indoors on the computer really sap my energy and focus.
    I’m glad that not only is your health improving but your spirit as well. I think the second leads the first even though it often seems the other way around. You might not think it but you decided to fight and winning feels good 🙂

    • Donna says:

      I agree I do think the spirit leads our physical health and inspires us to get on with what must be done….I like the idea that I decided to fight…I had not thought about that!

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