After my major realization that I needed to change (Read), I had no idea how to begin. So naturally I just began to think about it and decided that I should just go for a walk. I put on some music and I went outside in the evening and just started walking with no idea where I wanted to go or how long I wanted to be out. It felt wonderful to be outside and it felt very peaceful as well. It was around 8pm, dark and the streets were mostly empty. When I got home, I felt so proud of myself for taking those first steps. There wasn’t much about myself that made me feel proud, so it really felt awesome.
The next day, I went on to Google Maps and plotted out my route that I took and found out that I had walked 3.5km. I decided that I would walk that distance and that route every day after work. I did that for about 2 weeks before I decided that it wasn’t enough, and that I wanted to be outside more, and walk further. I knew that I could do more, and that I should, so I did. I extended my route another few blocks and walked 5km. Again, every single evening. I walked that same 5km for a solid month and the more I walked, the more I felt good about myself and my efforts. I started noticing that my strength and endurance was improving and so I figured…why not more?
So I changed up my route again, and did some zig-zagging through some neighbourhoods within my previous route. It ended up being 7km exactly.
I walked that 7km every single day for almost 5 months. I know that path incredibly well. Now for the fun fact…there’s a specific tree that looked really cool. It was very large and the trunk was quite thick and solid. One day, very soon into this walking adventure, I fist bumped that tree on a specific spot on the trunk as I walked past. The next day, I did it again. It just seemed so inviting. So I kept doing it every day and then I realized that my day was not complete unless I had fist bumped that tree. It was a way of motivating myself to get out there and exercise. My tree was waiting for me.
(Yes, I totally just ran outside to take a picture of me fist bumping a random tree.)
I have no idea what the people who lived there thought of me, or if they even noticed. I’d like to imagine it became a frequent topic of conversation in their house. Tales of the weird fat dude who kept punching their giant tree trunk in the evenings will be told in the family for years to come!
It’s strange and it’s funny, but it really became my own method of motivation. It was one of a few key markers in my day that made me happy and proud to keep pushing forward, knowing that I was doing the right thing, and making the right steps in my life.
During this time, I had purchased a pair of Nike running shoes that could use the special chip in the sole to track your exercise. It linked to the Nike+ running app and tracked all of my walks. The app would tell me how fast I was walking per kilometre, my current time overall and how far I had gone. There were a few spots in the walk that I knew I would be near when the app informed me of my time, and I kept pushing myself day after day to be further than those spots. To walk faster and push harder.
I had an amazing playlist of songs to fuel me forward, consisting mostly of a few key Adele songs, Imagine Dragons, and my personal workout favourite, Kesha. Kesha’s dance music is amazing to workout to, it never got old to me, and always made me pick up the pace.
One of the most exciting things to me was when I would see a walking group way ahead of me and eventually catching up to them and then passing them all. It made me so happy to be this huge dude outwalking all these people at a faster pace. It also made me feel proud and empowered to be walking faster than others who were fit and athletic. All I wanted to do was prove my abilities to others. To prove that I could get out there and move; to do things that everyone else could do. Even if that thing is just going for a walk. All I really wanted was for people to see me walking faster than them and maybe think to themselves “wow, that guy can really move!”
So if you’re not sure where to start, just put on some music, podcast, or audiobook and go for a walk. Take a few steps, literally. Walk around the block, or further. Go wherever you feel like going. Just get outside and walk without a plan on where you are going to go and when it comes to how far you go, just let your body be your guide.
Get out there and find yourself a tree to fist bump.