More than one-third of Americans are obese. And I was one of them. About five years ago, I decided to finally do something about it. No more purchasing a dozen doughnuts. I exchanged 1 percent for the 2 percent milk I was drinking, and added more fruits and veggies to my diet. It was a start, but I knew I needed that dreaded "e" word - exercise. Ugh!
Since I love music and dance, I decided to try a zumba class at my town fitness facility. About halfway through the class, I thought I'd never make it. How do these younger girls swivel their hips like that? But I laughed and learned and lived another day. I've been zumba-ing for three years now.
Recently retired, I didn't want to accumulate extra pounds by sleeping in each morning, relaxing for hours with my morning coffee and sitting around doing my crossword puzzles. "I'll get up at my usual work time and take a walk," I thought. The first day was exhilarating. It felt wonderful. The second day was just OK. The third day, I was sore, unmotivated and realized I hate just walking! Although I was feeling more energetic, my clothes fit better and it was the healthy thing to do, how could I stay motivated?
Here's what I discovered about myself: Getting up each morning and then deciding whether to take a walk doesn't work for me. I have to make it a part of my regular routine. There are too many excuses for not going. I did decide that I wouldn't walk if it was raining hard, but I guess Mother Nature was on the side of exercising this summer.
I found that I could do some research for my garden. While I am no green thumb, I could study which plants are in bloom each week, the varied hues and heights of plants and note the ingenious containers and yard decorations along the way. My yard won't be in next year's garden walk, but I have a vision of what it could become.
Varying my route each day keeps it fresh. I am fortunate to live in a residential area where I can take a 45-minute walk every day of the month and never retrace my exact pathway. I enjoy the warm smiles and greetings of my fellow walkers and meeting some adorable dogs, bunnies and squirrels. I've also learned which homeowners are likely to sprinkle their lawns in the early morning, in case I need to cool off in the heat.
I sometimes need a more practical purpose for taking my walk, and now take advantage of small errands I can do in the morning. I walk to the mailbox to mail bills. Walking to the nearby grocery store for a few items is quite motivational for me, especially if I want creamer for my coffee or fruit for my cereal. I've walked to the parcel store to mail important papers and gifts. I've saved gas, didn't pollute the environment and gained some exercise in the process. I've occasionally even taken a small bag with me to pick up litter marring our neighborhood landscape. No one probably notices, but it boosts my civic pride.
Sometimes I use this quiet time to plan out my day, think about solutions for problems overwhelming and minuscule or verbally describe the vista around me. No electronic music device for me. That's how this column started - it was written in my head as I was walking. So that's how I am staying motivated and fit. I look forward to the change of scenery in the fall. Now, if only we could have another winter like this past year. Otherwise, I'll have to check out the flora and fauna of the mall.