Valdera-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha

imageOkay, I’ve gone and done a crazy thing. I joined a local hiking group. This might not be a nutty idea for some people, but it hasn’t been that long ago that I was a serious couch sitter, and a hobbling physical mess.

But joining a hiking group isn’t painful. Not at all. Especially if you never actually go on a hike. Which I haven’t yet. So, the act of joining was actually very easy. I did it online.

That was two weeks ago. Yesterday, I finally decided to sign up for a hike. This Sunday. Like, in two days. So I made the phone call to reserve my spot on the hike, and it went something like this.

Me: I’d like to sign up for the hike on Sunday.

Man on phone: Okay, have you ever been on one of our hikes?

Me: No, I’m new.

Man on phone: It’s six to seven miles.

Me: Okay.

Man on phone: We’ll be crossing a stream. Your feet will get wet.

Me: Okay.

Man on phone: It’s hilly terrain. Six to seven miles

Me: Okay.

Man on phone: That’s a two or three hour hike. Six to seven miles

Me: Okay.

(It was beginning to sound like he was trying to talk me out of it.)

Me: I’ve been walking almost five miles every day.

Man on Phone: Okay.

So, now that I know, without a doubt, that the hike will be six to seven miles long, on hilly terrain, crossing water, I have to ask myself, “What have I done!?!”

I must confess, I am a little nervous. I’m wondering, do I need special hiking shoes? What if I can’t finish? Will they leave me in the bushes to die, muttering, “I told her it was six to seven miles.”

All of this is compounded by the fact that I just looked at the website again, and the listing for this hike actually says “seven to eight miles”. Why didn’t I see that before? What possessed me to think that I can walk seven to eight miles, or six to seven, or any combination thereof?

What am I going to need on this grueling physical challenge? A water bottle? Band-aids? A backpack? Real hiking boots? An emergency contact for when I drop dead half way through?

I need to get a grip. I’ve walked eight miles in a day before. Just not all at once. So, cue the Mary Poppins-esque chipper cliches that I always resort to in times of stress.

“You must do the thing you think you cannot do” Eleanor Roosevelt, have you ever walked eight miles uphill in a stream?

“No guts, no glory” Thank you, David Farragut for my battle cry.

“You never know until you try” Anonymous was on to something.

“Even if you fall on your face, you’re still moving forward” Oh, Victor Kiam, whoever you are… that is the one I’m going to put a on a T-shirt.

So, I’ve got two days to get it together and prepare for the first hike of my life. I love to go a’wandering… but will I make it out alive?

Photo by DLM

am I boring you?

So, I’ve been walking 10,000 or more steps everyday since that first random Tuesday in May, aimagend I have to say, it is a commitment of time. 10,000 steps for me works out to be almost five miles, or an hour and a half of dedicated walking time every day.

Add a full-time job to the mix and it can feel like all I do is walk, to the exclusion of anything else. This was fully illuminated to me last week, when I went on a first date with a man from an online dating site.

He asked me what I like to do for fun. I said the first thing that popped into my head. The thing I’ve been doing every day for the last three months. “Ummm…. I like to walk?” I honestly couldn’t think of anything else, because walking is all I’ve been doing with my free time.

Needless to say, he never called me again.

do like other things, I would say to this man, now that I’ve had time to think about it. I am a well-rounded person! I like plays and music and reading and cooking and lots of worthwhile things. But right now, I am walking, thank you very much.

I was sedentary for so long, and truth be told, a little depressed about that. Walking makes me feel better. I’ve lost 15 pounds. That’s weight that I’m no longer lugging around, much to the relief of my knees, ankles and blood pressure.

So, maybe I am alone, and dating myself for a while. So what? I’m giving myself the gift of walking, which gives me other gifts of health. I’m okay with that.

Photo by DLM

10,000 steps a day for life

It all started with a fitness tracker. That, and the fact that I just turned 60 and felt like I was wanderinimageg unknowingly into uncharted senior citizen territory.

What do I mean by that? Well, at the time I received my fitness tracker, I was thirty pounds overweight, extremely sedentary, and everything hurt. I couldn’t keep up with anyone. Not my kids, not my friends, and certainly not my athletic, toned younger sister.

It all started with a trip to NYC with my sister. Yes, she is a runner, triathlete, and body builder, but it didn’t matter. We were going to walk all over Manhattan. I couldn’t even come close to keeping up with her as we walked. My feet! My legs! Stiff, painful, slow, I measured my pack mule gait against her gazelle like stride and came up 10 feet behind her at all times, until she mercifully offered a taxi ride back to the hotel. Oh, the shame.

Then there was a trip to Costa Rica with my kids. Everyone walks in Costa Rica, and why not? The weather is beautiful, the scenery picturesque and mountainous. Again, like an old shuffling burro, I lagged behind, hot, tired and sad. And this time there were steep inclines. I just couldn’t keep up.

My feet were a constant problem. So much pain. Finally I got the hint. At 60, unless I did something about this physical decline, it was going to pick up speed until I woke up one day, hunched and unable to navigate across a room without a walker.

It was then that I decided to use the fitness tracker that my kids had given me for Christmas, and just start walking 10,000 steps a day. Everyone from the Surgeon General to my very own doctor had been recommending that for a very long time, so I decided to begin.

It was a non-descript day, Tuesday, May 10th of this year that I rolled out of bed early one morning and went for my first walk. I saw the sunrise, and I was astounded. Sunrises had been happening everyday of my life, why haven’t I seen more of them?

It took a large commitment to reach 10,000 steps that day. My morning walk gave me 4,700 steps. So, I walked on the treadmill at work (I work for a very health conscious company) and then had to finish up with a walk after dinner. 10,000 steps is no joke.
The next morning, I did it all over again. Another beautiful sunrise and fresh air, treadmill at work, and after dinner walk. I loved it. But my body did not.

By day three, my ankles were killing me, my feet hurt just looking at them, and I was sore and stiff all over. But I didn’t stop. I bought over-the-counter orthotics for my sneakers and two elastic ankle braces.

Day four. Ankle braces were in place, but the orthotics took up too much room in my sneakers. I made my 10,000 steps that day, but the pain was incredible. I guess now is as good a time as any to mention that I have dermatomyositis, fibromyalgia and arthritis. So, when I say I had pain, I am not just whistling Dixie.

I kept going though. The sunrises, and peace and quiet of the countryside were so welcome and such a new experience for me. It was like I finally woke up to what life is. And every night, I hobbled to bed, wracked with pain. Everything flared. Joints, muscles, ligaments were on fire. Two nights I cried in bed, and I’m not a crier.

But I still didn’t stop. And little by little, I noticed, I didn’t need the ankle braces, my feet didn’t hurt quite as much and there was nothing I liked better that waking up before the sun and hitting the road.

Today is August 28th. I have walked over a million and a half steps and I’m not stopping anytime soon. I’m stronger, faster, and even though my feet still hurt, I am getting out there everyday.

I believe that this will keep me mobile as I age and all that other health and wellbeing stuff. But, the most important benefit of all? I can finally keep up with people!

Join me as I continue on this journey, because there is a sunrise every morning and miles to walk before I sleep.