I went on a very long walk today and it wasn’t for my City Saunter project. In fact I didn’t even walk in Lansing. I walked in my neighborhood. It was a long walk, totaling almost 6.5 miles. That ranks up there with some of my longest saunters so far. Why the long walk? Well this morning I woke up, got dressed and found the pants I normally wear quite well were taut; uncomfortably taut. I’ve been struggling with this type of situation since around Christmas. Up until Thanksgiving I had actually dropped 15 pounds. I was ecstatic. I was almost to a new low since having the twins. If I could hit that weight I knew there would be rainbows everywhere and skittles raining down from the sky. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Right after Thanksgiving we rolled right into Christmas, then New Year, Valentine’s, Groundhog’s Day, Fat Tuesday, 20th Anniversary celebration, St. Patrick’s Day and Easter. Now, I’m not a huge over eater but I do like a nice treat on occasion. What seems to really be the issue is that as I’ve begun my fourth decade on earth even the slightest amount of going off track makes my weight creep up. That’s never happened to me before. I’m the type that once I gain the weight (always the result of a pregnancy) I stay there, no ups or downs. It takes a lot of energy to lose the extra weight and I usually do. However, after having the twins in 2005 I’ve had an almost impossible time getting back to my pre pregnancy weight. This extra weight, whether fair or not, puts me in the overweight to almost obese club. I don’t want to be in this club anymore.
For just over a year and a half I have been walking Lansing. When I first started this journey I was only able to walk for about 20 minutes before I got winded. As time went by my walks grew in length and duration. I found myself regularly walking two hours and mapping a walk length close to six miles. My runner friends were often posting exercise regimens half this distance. I realized that I had truly made walking my thing. My objectives for this project had been finding the intricacies of Lansing, photographing them and then writing a meaningful blog about each walk. Never did it cross my mind that I would be “the walker”. I started getting welcomed into walking and biking groups. I was asked to join committees that promote the walkability of mid Michigan. I’ve measured almost 250 miles on my journey throughout Lansing in 1.5 years. That’s not counting any walking I did on my own, like today’s 6.45 mile walk. So here are my pointers and ideas so you might want to become a “walker” too.
Start out slowly. Like me, you might have the urge to really push your first walks. I used to do this when I was a runner and I would get so burned out. I’ve found while doing these walks that smaller walks are nicer. Start at a comfortable distance and do it a few times before you push it farther.
Always take water. One of my hardest learned lessons was not taking water. I tend to work up a sweat pretty quickly, even in cold temps. It is always wise to take water and even a small snack with you. I like an apple.
Try to have a goal. With my walks my goal is to hit as many streets as I can without re walking any and then making it back to my parked car. Your goal might be to walk around the block, or to a friend’s house. When you’re out driving look for places you might like to see on a walk (just remember it might be farther than it seems from the drive).
Map it out. Sometimes it’s nice to map a few walks out to see exactly how far it really is. My pace, which is quite fast I think, takes me about 3 miles in 1 hour. That’s a 20 minute mile including stopping to take photos. Use your pace to calculate your distances.
Create your own photo walk. Are you interested in photography? Walking around a neighborhood or park is a great chance to pull out the camera and take some shots. It changes your perspective about your surroundings when you inspect it for photographic purposes.
Take a friend. There is nothing better than walking with a friend or family member. <My Saunter Buddies>
Use Facebook for finding activities and not just to play games. It seems counterintuitive to use something that makes you sit in front of a computer as a way to get out and walk. However, I’ve found that keeping track of events, festivals and friends’ activities on Facebook has allowed me many more opportunities to get out and walk.
Once you find something to do on Facebook or a website, go do it! We have Be a Tourist in Your Own Town coming up June 2. This is a great chance to check out places in town. The books are only $1 and it is loaded with a great list of places to go. You can park in Old Town and check out a few things there (Chalk of the Town, Pruess Pets). Then walk The Lansing River Trail to the Lansing City Market, Impression 5 or the Capitol.
Join a race. Signing yourself up for a 5k is the perfect way to get you scheduled to walk. If this is too much of a push, then sign up as a volunteer for a race. This will allow you to be involved without actually running/walking it. You might even be inspired by the participants.
Volunteer. There are so many great volunteering opportunities here in Lansing. Right now Mid-MEAC is looking for volunteers for their walkability audit. I’ve found that every time I volunteer I get a lot of exercise in. Old Town is also looking for volunteers for their upcoming festivals.
Keep track of your walks. I have a map hanging in my house and as I walk I mark it off the map in pink highlighter. Every time I look at that map and all the pink, I know I’ve been really exercising. If you keep a diary mark it in that. I like to keep track on a calendar too. It’s easy to just mark on the day you walked, how far you went. It’s a nice reminder when you’re not having a good day. You can also use online trackers. I use Daily Mile.
Use the walk for exploring. Walking really allows you to slow down the pace. I’ve been amazed at walking an area that I normally just drive through. It goes by in such a blur in the car, but walking allows me to really look at things. It also allows you to just stop and really take a moment to appreciate it.
Like that you are walking. I use to feel that if I wasn’t running then I wasn’t really exercising. I’ve found that with walking I get just as much of a work out. Plus the ease of it makes it easier for me to continue for longer walks. The low impact also doesn’t create the aches and pains that I use to have from running. It’s a great way to stay in shape.
Help a friend. If you are already really into walking but you might have a friend or family member that is struggling, maybe you can share this blog with them or use some of these ideas to help motivate them. In the end walking is good for everyone; it saves gas, it improves health and it allows you to get out and talk to the neighbors or other Lansing residents.
Good Luck and happy walking!