Walking is a Gateway Drug

by Connie DeLaVergne on June 10, 2010

I began walking about 6 years ago after I realized I was in my middle years and that my body was changing. Weight I had never carried in excess began to creep onto my frame and I could no longer get away with physical neglect. Outright abuse such as eating poorly and imbibing began to exact a toll and it didn’t make me feel good. That’s when I saw the light.

Revelation

Middle age experience manifested big time but instead of complaining I turned my attention to lifestyle choices that might make me feel better.

I began to exercise.

I had never enjoyed exercise. I wasn’t fond of the pain and I didn’t like to sweat. I liked to relax too much and had never needed exercise to look good. As a young girl and a young adult I was very active, I enjoyed running around, dancing and playing sports but never competitively.

When I realized I needed to move my body regularly if I didn’t want my middle-age spread, I began walking. At first I took slow walks without any hills in and around my neighborhood. I took these walks on fair weather days which, if you’re in the Pacific Northwest, doesn’t happen frequently, so I also joined a gym where I could walk when the weather was too wet or too cold. I soon realized that walking was enjoyable but it was most fun outdoors.

My neighborhood became familiar to me.

I noticed houses and trees and shrubbery I had never noticed before. I learned details about the small park in my backyard and the nearby cemetery. I visited my father-in-law’s grave marker and found the headstone of an old boss. I talked to folks along my routes and started to feel like I belonged, my sense of community was developing and I became stronger.

In a short period of time my leg muscles strengthened and my lung capacity grew. My walks got longer and I planned routes to move up the stairs and hills instead of down. I learned to dress warmer when the days got colder and I bought a rain coat.

Walking for miles at a time I explored trails and parks outside of my immediate neighborhood and I participated in public walks planned by city organizers. I joined Volkssport, an international walking association and participated in their longer 10K walks. I bought a pedometer and started mapping my favorite routes—the walks I found myself enjoying over and over again. I got stronger still and felt lost without a daily stroll.

Two years ago I started lifting weights one to three times a week at the gym or in my living room and this year I bumped it up again by adding a twice-weekly boot camp class. And even though I feel physically pained by the class I am noticeably less stiff and have experienced a distinct increase in upper body strength and endurance. I work harder in a class environment and it is exciting to feel better and better.

The freakiest thing of all, however, is a desire to add running into my walking routine.

Who’d’a thunk it?!

Not me. On my walks I am beginning to run for short periods of time, usually between blocks or to catch up with my husband who keeps walking when I stop to take a photograph. Getting more and more healthy is actually FUN!

In 2006 I quit drinking alcohol. On 04 January 2010 I became a vegan.

I have switched to a simple, whole food, animal-free diet. I lost 10 pounds and I have never felt better, and I don’t just mean physically. I feel good about myself because I believe an animal-free diet is best for our health individually, collectively and spiritually. Becoming vegan is not mainstream and breaking with convention and culture is not easy. I am proud of myself for making this commitment because I didn’t know I had it in me. This is a real boon to my ever-growing sense of accomplishment that I hope to experience until the day I die.

As long as I live I plan to keep growing . . . my newly discovered Life Purpose is to Keep Growing!

In heath food circles, especially vegan circles, people recommend reading The China Study by T.Colin Campbell, PhD, so I did. It changed my life. I am more committed than ever to this lifestyle and see the vegan diet as a solution to many of our country’s health problems–obesity, heart disease, cancer. But don’t take my word for it, read The China Study yourself. The scientist who wrote it is no slouch, not even close and he has data to back up his claims.

It’s amazing how terrible the typical American diet and lifestyle is for a person and it takes discipline and commitment to buck convention. It’s not easy. You don’t have to do it all at once though. I recommend arming yourself with knowledge and taking small steps to get you where you want to go. Eliminate one unhealthy food product at a time, take a short stroll around the block and decide…

How healthy do I want to be?

In the end it’s up to you. It’s your body and your life and you can live it however you see fit. Do you want to be fit? I did. So I started walking. And walking. And walking.

Walking led me where I didn’t even know I wanted to go but I’m happy to be here because it feels GREAT to feel good.

That’s why I say Walking is a Gateway Drug . . . to health and fitness. It’s also why I recently built this site—to share my favorite walking routes in and around the City of Bellevue, Washington and encourage other people to walk in their neighborhoods too . . . if I can inspire one other person to begin walking and to enjoy a healthy lifestyle it will be worth the effort.

Walk on my friends.

WALK ON!

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Steve June 10, 2010 at 2:16 pm

I’m glad you started walking, too, honey.

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Connie DeLaVergne June 10, 2010 at 3:39 pm

You read my posts? : – ) <3

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Oren Pardes June 10, 2010 at 2:21 pm

Eat, sleep, and exercise? Oh my! Thanks for the “warning” about walking (leading to people looking and feeling better, healthier, and happier).
.-= Oren Pardes´s last blog ..Not all social contact is appreciated =-.

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Connie DeLaVergne June 10, 2010 at 4:57 pm

. . . if I start to see lions and tigers and bears (oh my!) on those walks, I’ll really be in trouble.

Thanks for reading my post and commenting, Oren, you made me chuckle and think of Oz. I appreciate the support and look forward to reciprocating.

~Connie

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Steven Suchar June 10, 2010 at 2:50 pm

Hi Connie!

Thanks for inviting me to your Blog…it’s so nice meeting you. 🙂

*High 5* on going Vegan…wait until you reach the 1 year milestone, talking about a sense of accomplishment & discipline. I’ve been a lacto-ovo veggy since 1996…welcome to the club!!

Have a pleasant day…your tribal friend Steven Suchar
.-= Steven Suchar´s last blog ..Cater To Your Twitter Followers!! =-.

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Connie DeLaVergne June 10, 2010 at 5:04 pm

I know, Steven, I am a vegan newbie and when 1 year comes about I will be completely impressed with myself, LOL. This is a nice club to be part of. What is a lacto-ovo veggy?

It’s nice to meet you too, Steven. I look forward to visiting your blog and learning more about you.

~Connie

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Julieanne van Zyl June 10, 2010 at 4:41 pm

What a great post Connie! I love walking also. Every night around 8 pm my hubby and I walk for about 45 minutes, usually up a very steep hill for about 15 minutes, then down a bit and up again, right around a big block with beautiful views of the city lights when we go up or down the hills.

It certainly is my drug also:-)
.-= Julieanne van Zyl´s last blog ..How Law of Attraction works in Business =-.

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Connie DeLaVergne June 10, 2010 at 5:09 pm

Careful Julieanne, before you know it you might start running those hills.

Thanks for commenting on my article. I love the attention ; – ) and I look forward to spending time on your blog. I’m especially drawn to your latest post.

In ever-increasing good health,
Connie

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Alison June 10, 2010 at 4:46 pm

That is such a moving history! It looks like life in your 50’s will be nothing less than wonderful in multitudes of ways. Sure, it took a number of years of living less than what and who you can be, but you finally arrived at the enlightened point of ‘I’ve had enough’ and pulled your chutzpah out of its hiding place to change your direction. I’m so proud of you, and I think your story needs to find its way into various health magazines. Submit it and see what happens!

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Connie DeLaVergne June 10, 2010 at 5:14 pm

Who said anything about being in my 50s?! and yes my dear friend, Alison, walking is my “moving” history.

Thanks for all your kind words. Your never-ending support means a lot to me. When ya gonna get your blog going?

XXConnie

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