I like routine. Prefer my life when nothing upsets my personal apple cart. I am loathe to change. I want things to stay the same. I like repetition. In this case, like many others over the years it’s something silly to trip up my mundane existence the wrong way.
It’s been 15 months since my knee replacement and I’m finally starting to feel like my old self. My legs are significantly stronger. All because I started walking again. Everyday. Walking is not new to me. I started in 1998 to boost my weight loss. I became addicted to walking. My outlook, my mood was better when I walked at least a half hour every day. You gotta be consistent, that’s the key for me. It’s too easy to get out of a good habit. (Prayer, church, studying the Bible are other good habits that once broken-fall by the wayside. Sorry God).
But there’s this thing called life which includes hiccups, causing my walks to stop on occasion. Surgery on my frozen toe, broke my left elbow-twice all requiring a lengthy absence from my daily routine. My weight fluctuated right along with whatever issue was in my life at the time. Never reaching the point where I started in ’98 but more than once it’s inched precariously close. My ideal weight is much harder to maintain and keep off the older I get. We rarely go out to eat but I cook good food, bake too often and eat too much. Yeah, there’s that. After 40 and I swear every calorie packs on a pound. Really, how can you gain 10 pounds from one pound of fudge? That should be impossible and illegal. Immoral even.
I’ve worn New Balance shoes for my walks since I started. Had to switch styles several times because they discontinue the shoe you prefer rather quickly. The move to Jackson 5 years ago messed up my daily walk. Hurt my leg which took a year to heal, started working early mornings which messed up my walking habit. Face it, I’m lazy, tired and 20 years older. The last straw was a fall in 2018, hurting my right knee which didn’t help my non-existent cartilage, and I had to have it replaced in the spring of 2019.
I’m not one for resolutions because I don’t keep them, but when 2020 rang in I was determined to start walking again. And keep walking. Making it one of my (only) good habits. To make that happen I needed new shoes. Started out the year at a New Balance shoe store being properly fitted with a comfortable-plenty-of-toe-room-shoe.
I’ve not said this very often in my life. In fact I don’t recall ever saying it before. Ah-hem: we had a nice winter in Michigan. Odd, that wasn’t as hard as I thought. Think Hubs used the snowblower 3 times. All winter. There’s been winters when he’s used it 3 times a day. But not this year.
So I started out walking a mile and a half a day in February. As long as the street and walking path were dry-I walked. I kept extending my walking time, but there’s a fine line I’m trying to balance. Getting stronger to achieve the maximum benefit from walking but not doing any further damage to my left knee, which is not in great shape. Two friends recently mentioned (trying to pound some sense into me) their take on what’s important about walking. Not necessarily the length of the your walk, it’s the simple act of walking every day. Being consistent.
I strive for 10,000 steps a day and for the better part of April I did just that, but my left leg ached for the rest of the day. Ok, that wasn’t working, so I backed off from the 4-5 miles a day and found a sweet spot for me which is just over 3 miles which amounts to about 7,800 steps. If I sit on my butt for the rest of the day, the only way I can hit 10,000 steps would include a shopping trip to the grocery store. While I love Meijer I don’t want to go everyday (shock, right) so I’ve studied my movements in the house after my walk. Not a pretty picture. I sit too much and too long. I’m trying to change that. Learning that it’s not the end of the world if I have to go up and down the stairs 5 times a day. It’s actually a good thing.
I became inspired from a walking challenge in Sioux Falls, SD. The goal was to walk 100 miles in 100 days. No problem. I hit 100 miles at the end of the third week, but then realized 33 miles a week wasn’t doing me as much good as the total indicated. That’s when I backed off to 28 miles a week, but never skipping a day. Any day I ran errands, I walked less in the morning, knowing I’d get my steps in because I didn’t have my butt in the recliner. Until mid July my lowest daily step count was just below 5,000 steps and that was only for one day. Many were between 7,000-8,000 but the majority were still over 10,000 steps a day.
A few weeks ago we were in the middle of a unusual heatwave. I was walking as soon as it was light out just to beat the heat. I have a chronic spot on one toe which tends to blister. No surprise a blister formed during the hot spell. I wrapped a couple bandages around the toe and walked the next day. As soon as I got a mile from home I could feel friction on the toe next to my bandaged toe. The pain caused me to stop several times. (I don’t like stopping-or talking when I walk. Wonder if I look as unfriendly as I sound? Meh. I do wave and say good morning. Grudgingly pause to remove my headphones when I see somebody’s mouth moving in my general direction).
The upside to all these stops during my painful blister walk was actually seeing many ‘things’ I’d never noticed in nearly 200 days of walking the same path/routine. For the first time I nudged my phone out and took some pictures. Of weeds. Who knew they were beautiful in their own, unique way? On one 50 foot stretch I noticed hundreds of lavender flowers on clumps of weeds. Because I was so early as I approached 40-50 American goldfinches would scatter heavenward as I came around the bend. Black and yellow (go Hawks) fluttering everywhere. It was dramatic and delightful. Another stop a half mile away, I looked up and saw 3 gorgeous heart-shaped leaves just as the sun peeked through. One of my favorite pictures.
Probably the most surprising weed is what I refer to as a bull thistle, which I thought got a foot high. They’re not very attractive and have prickers like a freaking cactus. But alongside my walking path they grow very tall and have stunning, vivid fuscia flowers.
When I finally made it home, I was sporting 3 painful blisters. No way could I walk the next day. My walking streak ended after 85 days. Because of a stinking blister. I really wanted to make it to 100 days. I was bummed. But after taking one day off (6 tenths of one mile was all I could muster just limping around the house on my day off) my new walking streak is up to 15 days.
I’ve got the strangest tan lines all over which is a hoot. I’m really only walking a half hour east towards the sun, and it’s barely up. All my shirts are V-neck and short sleeved so my neck is really brown but my upper arms are white like an Iowa farmer’s! My capris fall a couple inches past my knees, so below that line is very brown but just for a few inches, then more white from my short socks so I’ve got a golfer’s tan. Looks like my calves are dirty.
Still using my walking stick everyday. It’s prevented several mishaps. Sure wish I could do something to improve my balance, but I’m grateful each day I make it back to my driveway unscathed…