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If Friend, we greet thee, hand and heart.
If Stranger, such no longer be.
If Foe, our love will conquer thee.
-Old Welsh Door Verse

Friday, July 11, 2008

This is why...

I don't walk.

One of the world's best kept secrets (well, not now, I guess) is that I have an AA in Physical Education. I did check into being a dance major, but that was part of the theater department and theater people were - well - just too weird for my small town conservative self (I mean, the male dancers walked around in their jock straps. Eeeuw.) Having hated PE in school (unless they did a dance unit and since most PE teachers were jocks and coaches, that rarely happened) I decided to get a degree in PE with a dance emphasis, then a teaching credential and go be the teacher to did the dance units in high school PE departments. I figured I could be the advisor for the drill team, too, and have some fun. I took all the PE major classes plus all the dance classes the school offered for three years. Then I married my physiology professor (that's a long story for another day but is always good for some fun jokes), a lovely man with absolutely no sense of rhythm who hates to dance. Since, by that time, I was totally sick of school I happily chucked the whole experience and became a housewife, then a mother.

It's only after you stop dancing that you realize how much damage the activity really does to your joints. WHILE you're dancing those nicely developed muscles support everything, but when you let the muscles atrophy, the joints do start to complain. Which makes it doubly hard to get back into any kind of physical activity, and dancing is one of the worst to try to get back into because that's what messed up the joints to begin with.

So, here I am, 35 years later, a hundred pounds overweight, in remarkably good health all things considered, but with joints that are screaming about the abuse of having to carry around too much extra baggage. Two years ago I went to a new internist saying, "I need to lose weight and the only way I'm going to do that is to exercise. I need you to help me safely start an exercise program." Two years later and I still don't really have a "go" from her, or any real direction from anyone. If I could have been exercising for all the time I've spent sitting in doctor's offices being told to exercise over the last two years I would be twenty-five pounds lighter. But, none of them actually has any REAL direction. So, falling back on my ancient PE training, I decided to plan my own program. I've purchased "Chair Dancing," "Yoga for the Rest of Us," and a really good stretching video tape. I also purchased a beginning Pilates program, but after watching it can see that I'm a LONG way from that one. And what is supposed to be the basic exercise around which all of the rest of it orbits - neighborhood walking.

My plan is to walk enough this summer that I can walk to work (the school where I teach is a mile from me if I take the direct route), then walk home after work (by the not-so-direct route that will be 1.5 miles). If I can do that (works out to about an hour of walking a day in the shape I'm in), then supplement it with a couple of evenings of chair dancing and another of yoga or stretching, that would make a pretty good program.

I don't know if I've been procrastinating or if I truly just have been too busy to fit this in, but today was the day I finally pulled it all together to go on my first walk. I told myself I was not allowed to turn on the computer until the deed was done. I got my walking music out, put my walking shoes on and headed out for a SLOW full circle - 2.5 miles in an hour.

There must be music. I have two mixes. One starts with Lou Bega and moves through Traveling Wilburys, Cars, Robert Palmer, Queen. The other is a country mix. I'm not a country music "fan" (and if you look at the previous selections you can see when I lost interest in rock music, too) but over the years I've heard some that I really liked. "Cajun Moon", "Next to Me, Next to You", "Chattahoochee" come to mind. Anyway, walking is really a drag without music, so I connected myself up and headed out. I'm too out of shape to try to walk to the music (I'll get there) but it was nice to have the company.

Which brings me to the point of all this rambling and why I don't walk.


Nike used to make an Air Essential cross trainer that I loved. I could do anything in those shoes and over the years must have bought and worn out a dozen pair.

Then they stopped making them.

And I've been on the search for something - anything - else ever since. I've tried New Balance. Rockports. Sketchers. Other Nike styles. I did find a good pair of Nike walking sandals (men's) three years ago, but they're worn out now and I haven't been able to find them again. My problem is (and has been all my life) that my feet are shaped weird. Kind of like a duck's. Real wide across the instep with very narrow heels. So, if I get something that is comfortable across the instep, it will ride up and down on my heels and I get big blisters. Which is why I loved the cross-trainers. They were kind of like a half-hightop, and had a velcro strap at the ankle that I could secure enough to keep the heel from riding around.

The pair I walked in today are now bloodied in the heels. They're a semi-hightop (I had such hopes) and I've worn them to walk Disneyland several times with minor problems so I thought they'd work for this walk. Halfway through the walk I had developed such blisters that I contemplated calling home for someone to pick me up. Being willful and stubborn I decided to push on and did (Hooray for me!) finish the 2.5 miles. But the 2" bloody blisters on both heels will 1) ensure that I will not walk tomorrow and 2) will ensure that these shoes from hell will now hit the trash can.

I have a friend and colleague whose son owns a runners' supplies store in a nearby town. I think I'll go up and see what he has for me.


Chiloe said...

Have you check the video "walk the pounds off? "I'm thinking about getting that one. I heard good thing about that one from people who used it .

Megan said...

Good on ya for starting your walking program! I hope you are able to find good shoes - I think the running store is a great place to look. My dad was a jogger for years and years and he loved his local store - they inspected your feet and the way you run and were able to to recommend the proper shoes.

Jennifer said...

Leslie Sansome does the Walk Away the Pounds that Chiloe mentioned, and I totally agree with Megan on the running store. They can definitely recommend good shoes for you. A friend of mine swears by her Asics - they're the only ones that fit her perfectly. Me, I'm a Reebok girl.