Last October, just after we moved to Wales, my parents came to stay for the weekend. We went for a walk, to our favourite coffee and then into the town centre. The whole walk, there and back, was about five miles or so. I couldn’t manage it. The last half mile or so, I had to stop and wait for Graham to come and pick me up in the car.
I was so, so embarrassed and ashamed of myself. At 30 years old, I should be more than capable of walking that sort of distance, especially with sit down coffee stops along the way. I had to face it – I was too overweight and unfit to walk that sort of distance. That moment, I made a vow to get fitter. I knew it would take time and that it wouldn’t be easy.
Six months on, and I’m getting there. I’m still overweight – that’s going to take much more than six months to sort out – but I’m much, much fitter than I was. In fact, I would go as far as saying I’m probably fitter than I have been in about ten years, even before I had the children.
It’s been a lot easier than I thought it would. It’s literally been a case of buying some decent, lightweight shoes (Skechers Go Walk, if you’re interested!) and getting out and walking more. At first, it came about because I had no choice. Graham had a job which meant two out of every eight days I had no car so had to do the school run on foot. It’s about five miles each day just doing the school run, going three times a day, and over a rather steep bridge. It nearly wiped me out the first few times of doing it. I would get to the top of the bridge and would need to stop to catch my breath. My legs hurt, my ankles hurt and my feet hurt. After two days of doing that, my legs were aching to the point I wanted to cry, and I dreaded the days that Graham had the car for work.
As time went on, however, I noticed I could get to the top and back down without having to stop. My legs would ache, but not to the point where I could barely walk the next day. It felt just a little bit easier and I dreaded it just a little bit less. It wasn’t just the school run where I could see the difference. I could get up and off our sofa (which, after five years of kids jumping on it has sunk a lot!) without difficulty. I chased (yes, chased!) Alex along the beach. It was only for a short distance but I ran, for the first time in years.
Over Easter, Graham got a new job which means he has the car every day, leaving me to do the three school runs on foot. I was over the moon – not just because he had a better job, but because it left me with no choice but to walk more, and do that five miles a day. When you have access to a car, it’s all too easy to give in and drive there.
It’s been a week of doing it and I’ve really enjoyed it. Benjamin is now walking with me rather than going in his pushchair, and it’s been lovely chatting to him, stopping to see where the cows are in the field. Harrison and Alex are starting to ride their bikes to school, with Ben following closely behind on his Toddlebike. That’s also going to help me get fitter because I need to walk a lot faster to keep up with them. I’m managing the walk with no problem at all now, no achy legs, no sore feet, and we are even going for a walk around the block after school every night. I’m now averaging 5-6 miles a day according to my iPhone app. I probably wouldn’t have walked that in a week a few months ago.
It’s given me a bit more of a boost with making healthy choices when it comes to food. There’s no point in getting fit and burning off calories by walking if I’m going to come home and shove cake in my gob. I’m not on a diet – they don’t work for me – but I’m thinking about what I’m eating. I have no idea if I’ve lost weight and I’m not intending to weigh myself but I’m hoping that soon, I will start to see a difference in the way I look.
I’ve still got a long way to go before I can be classed as anything near fit, but I’m getting there, and I have absolutely no intention of giving up. I want to get myself to a reasonable level of fitness by the end of this year, so that next year, I can start running.
This girl can – and will.