There’s a slight incline in the driveway to my complex and the burn feels good. It comes at mile 1.98 on my two-mile walk, just before I let my body slip into its natural walking pace, and I am routinely surprised at how I welcome that last hint of pain in my hips, thighs, and glutes. I previously reserved that particular pain tolerance for…other activities.
About a year ago, when I decided (for good) that I had to live a more active lifestyle, this two-mile walk became my workout of choice. I could have chosen something shorter, more high impact, with expedient results. But my loathing of athletic activities goes back to years of being the slowest, clumsiest, always-picked-last kid in gym class and I would not stick with any routine that brought back the visceral shame and embarrassment of those days. Say what you will about needing to get over one’s childhood, but this body of mine holds memories. I don’t remember; I relive. The building block of getting my physical self in order had to be something I could mindlessly slide into and wouldn’t feel too severely the following day.
Two miles. Roughly thirty minutes. At least six times a week.
I knew I was hooked the first time I stepped outside on a clear, cold December morning and felt revived by the crisp air filling my lungs right after mile one. A woman who never spent more than the two minutes it takes to walk from door to car to door marveled at snow-piled suburban neighborhoods while steadily pumping her legs forward in thermal leggings and 30-degree weather. The first day back on the pavement after assuming I’d spend winter building a yoga practice was a revelation.
The miles felt amazing. Like the caress of a lover I hadn’t seen in far too long.
Since those tentative first steps last summer, I have added new elements to my routine. First, sit-ups. Ten during my post-walk yoga. At present date, I can do fifteen before my core starts yelling at me which means soon, I’ll work toward eighteen.
Wall push-ups. I do twenty post-walk, and start feeling those in my arms and shoulders somewhere between fourteen and sixteen.
And lately, five-pound weights. Twice a week, two simple sets of ten. Just to make sure my upper body isn’t left out of all the fun my legs have on my near-daily walks. Reps seven through ten are a journey, but we cross the finish line.
It turns out, I know myself pretty well. The slow, steady development of a good habit turns me on.