My walking route has stayed pretty much the same since Spring 2011. It’s a beautiful neighborhood with wide streets, hardly any traffic (especially in the early mornings when I start my day), and it’s overall a very safe place for me to walk. The only downside is that it’s expensive, so we don’t live *in* the neighborhood, but it’s a mile from our front door so it’s easy enough to get to.
My routine has evolved a bit since the VERY first time, but it’s generally the same. Which means that on most days I walk past the same houses about every 12 hours.
So after a while, people notice you. And after that, sometimes they wave from their cars or their kitchen windows. After that, they start saying hi, introducing themselves, and even talking to you regularly.
So all of this back story gets us to my point regarding my motivation:
The other day on my after work/before dinner walk, an older couple walked past me, introduced themselves, and mentioned that they see me day in and day out walking past their house and wanted to know what keeps me motivated.
Now as an extrovert who has completely fallen in love with exercising, being healthy, and feeling good, I could probably have talked about the variety of reasons that the residents of the West Slope/Valley View neighborhood see me so much, but the most immediate and easily understandable reason that I gave them was that I used to be very overweight and a Type 2 diabetic and now I am not and I feel better than I ever did before and that I want to stay that way. We chatted for a few minutes and then I headed home.
Here are just a few of the reasons I still walk 3.5 miles twice a day (getting up at 4:15 AM every morning and heading out for a walk right when I get home from work), even when it’s wet or cold or below freezing or I am tired in the morning:
- I have more energy overall.
- I am virtually unrecognizable to people who haven’t seen me in over 4 or 5 years. This can be a good things sometimes.
- I like being small. I’m only 5’8″ and generally weigh in around 155 lbs. Call it whatever you like, but I like being able to wear a size 30 waist in shorts and pants and a size small in shirts and jackets. For the first time in my life, I actually like how clothes look on my body.
- For the first time in my life, I am actually at peace with my body and like it. Growing up, I was always heavy and had very low self esteem and poor body image. Sometimes I still struggle with it, but each day is easier.
- I haven’t flown in an airplane in 4 years, but the last time I was on a plane, I fit in the seat more than comfortably and that was great.
- Sex is better.
- On the weekends, I like being up very early (before the sun rises) and drinking my coffee and eating breakfast after my walk before Liv gets up for the day.
- It wakes me up in the morning and gets me set in the right frame of mind for the day and then helps me decompress and relax at the end of the work day. Lots of time to think, problem solve, reconcile the day that I have had, and to pray – which I need to do more than I am currently doing during this time.
- I love watching the change of seasons each and every morning and each every evening. Especially in the late spring/early summer when the weather is nicer and the days are longer.
But one of the biggest things that really motivates me is something from the very first morning walk that I ever did.
When I first started walking after work I noticed that my blood sugar numbers were coming down, and as they did, my weight started to drop as well. I had been heavy my entire life and had always wanted to lose weight and be thin/athletic/skinny. I also knew from a young age that I would probably be bald at some point. I told myself that I could be bald or I could be fat, but I wouldn’t let myself be both at the same time and that I had little control over being bald. I also figured this was probably the best time to make that change in life. I had exercised and dieted in the past, but as most people often do, I gave up before results ever started to take hold and I didn’t really understand the basic principles of how to make those changes to my life in a long term fashion.
After a few weeks of better and better blood sugar numbers and modest weight loss, I decided that if I was going to get serious about losing weight, I should probably try walking twice a day. And that meant getting up extra early. 5:30 AM to be exact. A time of day that exists for very few people in life. And a time that up until June 22nd, 2011, only existed for me on rare, rare, rare occasions. And usually unwillingly.
Well, I did it. And it changed my life. See, June 22nd, 2011, was the second day of summer that year. And it was GLORIOUS. It was 60 degrees, the sun was up, the birds were chirping, and it was just delightful. The neighborhood that I walk in is on top of a hill with lots of ups and downs and beautiful views of the valley below. With the sun reflecting off of windows in the distance and the warm (relatively speaking) weather, I was sold. That was it for me. The sun coming up on a warm summer morning is what keeps me going day after day. I get up a little earlier now than I did that first summer, but I go for an extra lap or 2 on summer weekend mornings so that I can watch that sunrise.
Sure, it’s great being skinny and fit, I won’t lie. I love being able to fit in to clothes that would have been snug on me when I was a fat little 12 year old (YES, I own 3 pieces of clothing that are technically from the children’s section, but you’d never know it at first glance).
I love being able to walk past someone who I haven’t seen in a long time and watching them try to guess who I am when I start talking to them. I love feeling better physically than I did for as long as I can remember. I love knowing that I can walk faster than a Target or Fred Meyer store automatic door opening sensor can detect me (true story – yes, I ran in to a door once…). I love the lifestyle change that my wife and I made and the things that those changes have brought.
But those early morning sunrises on my walks in the summertime? That’s what keeps me going day in and day out, even when the weather is nasty. The knowledge that it will be summer again.