Friday, January 9, 2015

Winter Sucks!





I'm a trooper when it comes to walking outside in all kinds of weather. But.....lately, it's been so cold and windy here that I just can't bear it.  No amount of layers, or bundling up, of psyching myself will get me out the door.  I'm walking every day - at the mall.  It doesn't take long before I'm completely bored of all the malls I have available to me - and that's four of them.   There was no real Holiday Crush at the malls this past Christmas, so I was able to walk at the mall when I would otherwise have been forced to a treadmill somewhere.  Bad news for the retailers at the mall;  Good news for mall walkers.

My poor dog is suffering from a serious case of Cabin Fever.  Typically, if we go a few days when she doesn't get a walk, I take her off leash in our large back yard to keep an eye on her so she won't jump the fence.  She enjoys a good romp, lots of sniffing, and ogling dogs in other yards near and far, tempting her to want to jump that fence.  But, after about 10 minutes of hard running, jumping to chase squirrels up trees, and barking at those bad dogs that force her to respond to their barks, she's ready to return inside.  This past two weeks, it's been even too cold for me to force myself to the middle of the back yard to make sure she doesn't bolt out of my yard.  Poor baby.

Worse weather is predicted for the coming weekend.  Mother Nature is not being kind to us right now.  The only thing that gives me hope is that the days are noticeably longer, if only by a few minutes each day.  That means, Spring WILL appear.  I must just be patient.  And, patience is not my long suit.

So for now, the mall is my new best walking friend.  Fortunately Kris and Sally are as devoted to walking as I am, so we persevere at the mall.  Gosh, I was even lowered to actually shopping at the mall this evening!  Wearing my walking clothes from the 1970's, I stepped right into this millennium and purchased a cute hooded sweater and shell that will look nice over a pair of dressy black pants for a dinner out.  I'm not a shopper, so this is new behavior for me.  Maybe if this cold spell lasts long enough, I'll actually purchase an entire new wardrobe.  Unlikely.......


That turquoise sweater up there is not being modeled by me - but it is the sweater I purchased!


*************************** Remember my 100% GUARANTEE. Should you decide to stop walking and resume your old habits, I personally guarantee that you'll get back 100% of your former life - your pain, your lifestyle, your attitude. You can trust the information you find here. It's from a dedicated walker. Trust me and your life will get better! I promise.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Walkability




Walkability is a term used to describe an area and its relative friendliness to walking.  Are there sidewalks or paths?  Are there vehicle free areas?  Can a walker access all the amenities of an area?  Like that.

This subject has been a hot topic in some areas recently - but it's not really about walkability but about how friendly an area is for biking.  I'm down with that - but the bikers I routinely encounter on the streets and trails where I walk are only about 10% well-mannered.  Most do not announce themselves when coming upon walkers from the rear - and that's just not okay!

When I went looking for information about walkability, I found an article about walking on wikipedia.org that contains a section on the topic.  I had to laugh - an article about walking on Wikipedia!  How basic.  How simple.  But, it's there and it contains lots of information that is of interest to us walkers.  You can read the entire article here.  The section about Walkability is about about halfway down the page.  Then there are headings that cover how animals (other than humans) walk.  Four legged and two legged walking are vastly different - and not always in the same ways.  Did you know that?  Well, now you can read all about it.

So, back to walkability.  What would make an area walkable for you?  Do you require sidewalks on every street.  The right answer here is 'Yes' because unless we have safe walking 'lanes', we can't teach our children to walk anywhere safely.  Do you want trails and places to rest along the way?  Do you want to be able to get to restaurants and retail outlets on foot?  Do you want to compete with cars and trucks all the time or should some areas be vehicle free?  What impact might that have on local businesses?  Would you vote for a tiny tax increase to pay for safe walkways and access to all the amenities in your town's main business district?  How about mass transit?  In many cities, walkability is highly increased by having access to a broad-ranging transit system like subways or buses.

I don't have answers for you here.  I do have opinions.  Where I live (a western suburb of a major Midwest metropolitan area), I can walk safely to only a few retail outlets such as a grocery store.  To walk to a bank, a post office, or a shopping center with a variety of stores, I must walk about a mile (not a problem) and then cross a (up to) six lane major thoroughfare that has no pedestrian crosswalk.  There's a traffic light, but no pedestrian crossing light.  So, shopping in my home 'town' is not walkable.  I have done it in off peak traffic hours, but I know I'm risking my physical well being by doing so.  At a minimum, an improvement to the area would be a crosswalk with a pedestrian cycle.

Last summer, I decided to walk to a bank to drop off a deposit because that walk would give me about a two mile trek.  Trek turned out to be the right word since for the last half of the walk to the bank, along a main road, there was no sidewalk!  I passed two bus stops, including one that was sheltered from the wind - but no safe way to walk to either!  Whose plan is this?  BTW, taking a bus from my zipcode to a zipcode where most of the fast food workers live (the ones who use the bus) is about three hours ONE WAY.  I would not like to have to work that hard to get to and from work.  Doesn't sound right or fair to me.

My evaluation of my town's walkability would give my town about a 40% out of 100%.  That's a failing grade - a really failing grade.  Adding that one stretch of sidewalk would raise it to at least a 50%.  Adding the pedestrian crosswalk - we'd actually need three of those - would raise the score to about 75% if we got all three.  That would be awesome!

We can't take away the huge hill I'd have to walk and we have no control over the weather.  Those things figure into the walkability equation for those who would be giving up a car.  But, for those of us who just want the area where we live or work to be more accessible by foot, small changes create amazing outcomes.  I could take a grocery cart to do my midweek grocery shopping.  I could walk to the office supply store and the post office to take care of business.  I could walk to banks, to get coffee, Chinese food, frozen yogurt, and soccer supplies, troll through two thrift stores, and walk to pick up my car or vacuum from the repair shop - and lots of other things.  That's walkability.

The picture of the St. Louis Arch and Skyline is about 15 miles almost due East of my suburb of Manchester, Missouri.


*************************** Remember my 100% GUARANTEE. Should you decide to stop walking and resume your old habits, I personally guarantee that you'll get back 100% of your former life - your pain, your lifestyle, your attitude. You can trust the information you find here. It's from a dedicated walker. Trust me and your life will get better! I promise.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Sometimes A Trooper....





I must give kudos to my friend, and frequent walking partner, Kris.  Last week, she had arthroscopy on her right knee for some internal derangement of the joint with removal of some 'joint mice'.  I swear that's how orthopedists refer to this stuff in their own jargon.  'Internal Derangement' covers a variety of arthritis 'sins' and 'joint mice' are those little pieces of debris that break off in joints and float around only to be trapped in muscles and tendons from time to time - just often and painful enough to make you wish that you didn't have a knee at all!

I picked Kris up after surgery and dropped her into a comfy recliner with the TV remote and an ice pack a couple hours later.  She was not herself - but sedation and anesthesia will have that effect on ya'.  I speak from vast experience!

So, two days later, we were walking - slowly and not our usual 2-3 miles and not in the woods - but, we were walking!  I think that's pretty impressive!  That's a motivated walker.  That's a person who 'gets' that it's gonna hurt anyway so you may as well do what you have learned is good for you and go do it anyway.

She drove  her car.  She climbed up and down stairs (a sight to behold).  She walked.  Now, she's ready for her physical therapy.  I have no doubt that she'll be back up to speed in another week!

So, she's a trooper.  I walked with a PIC line in after my carpal tunnel surgery and she walked after knee arthroscopy.  Two tough chicks moving in the right direction!

So, what's your excuse for not walking today?

That picture above shows a single joint mouse.  Usually, like real mice, they hang out in groups.



*************************** Remember my 100% GUARANTEE. Should you decide to stop walking and resume your old habits, I personally guarantee that you'll get back 100% of your former life - your pain, your lifestyle, your attitude. You can trust the information you find here. It's from a dedicated walker. Trust me and your life will get better! I promise.

Friday, December 26, 2014

A Christmas Walk






Christmas was a very busy day at my house.  We had our annual (now in its 30th year) Christmas morning brunch.  As the children have gotten older (all now fully grown adults), scheduling becomes more difficult.  And, they don't want to get up at O-dark-thirty to celebrate a holiday or eat my brunch.  No kids of their own at this point.

We had to work around a friend heading to Mass before brunch, a girlfriend who had to leave for the airport at 1:30, and two other of my kids who had to make appearances at the homes of the families of their significant others.  Someone must pick up 92 year old grandma to get her here - usually me.  Someone has to keep the food coming - usually me.  Someone has to orchestrate eating, gift exchange, and clean up - usually me.

This annual affair began 30 years ago when our now 36 year old first born had no Christmas celebration.  Next door to us on one side lived an Irish Catholic family with 7 kids.  On the other side were some elderly Buddhists.  Across the street were Orthodox Jews.  What's a mom to do when the kid asks why we don't have Christmas.  Dad said - give him Christmas.  I asked around and discovered that several friends had nothing special to do with their kids either.  So, our 'stray, abandoned, and orphaned' Christmas Brunch was born.

But, today, it was too beautiful outside to not take advantage of the weather.  So, after all the eating, entertaining, transporting, and gifting, I grabbed the leash and took Lizzie for a little walk.  It wasn't a long walk, but it was worth the effort.  What better way to celebrate Peace On Earth by doing a nice, peaceful activity like walking?  

That cute picture can be found at this blog.   It's a great picture, but i would never let my dog 'walk' herself.

*************************** Remember my 100% GUARANTEE. Should you decide to stop walking and resume your old habits, I personally guarantee that you'll get back 100% of your former life - your pain, your lifestyle, your attitude. You can trust the information you find here. It's from a dedicated walker. Trust me and your life will get better! I promise.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Ready For Something More?

If you've been walking a while, you may be looking for more ways to fit simple exercise into your life.  If so, take a look at this site.

Don't scroll down to far at that site cuz you might get intimidated.  Remember, you just do what you can, start a the level you are comfortable at, and progress at a reasonable rate if you want.

If you still just want to walk, that's fine too.  Walking works best for me.  As you probably know, I also dance (linedancing, sliding) twice a week.  That's so much fun!  'We don't bark and we don't bite. You can't dance and stay uptight.'  That's from a great old tune, Dancing In The Moonlight.





*************************** Remember my 100% GUARANTEE. Should you decide to stop walking and resume your old habits, I personally guarantee that you'll get back 100% of your former life - your pain, your lifestyle, your attitude. You can trust the information you find here. It's from a dedicated walker. Trust me and your life will get better! I promise.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Sometimes You Feel Like A Hamster




You know those little ferris wheel type things that people put in the cages of hamsters and gerbils to let them exercise?  There is one mall in the area that pretty much makes me feel like a hamster.  And, I hate hamsters, gerbils, and other rat-like creatures.  But, I do like having a free place to walk even if it is a smallish mall.

Plaza Frontenac is the mall.  It's got two levels, both covered mostly with wood which is easy to walk on.  The other surfaces there are carpet and some sort of textured tile.  There are some broad staircases so we can get in a few ups and downs.  There are two real pluses about Plaza Frontenac.  First is the covered, heated parking.  Second is - no strollers and no teenagers.  While I love both babies and teens, when I'm walking, I hate having to navigate around moms pushing strollers and teens window shopping.



So, I'm a mall snob.  I regularly walk at both West County Center and Chesterfield Mall.  But, in these weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, these two malls are just too crowded and the weather outside is usually unwelcoming.  So, we are stuck with Plaza Frontenac.

It's very much a Cadillac problem, right?  We have a mall to walk at and it's free and has covered parking and a nice wood floor.  The window shopping is a bit esoteric as I am unlikely to purchase an Omega watch, a Coach bag, or furniture from either of the two specialty stores there.  No Lucky jeans for me either.  While I occasionally shop at some of the other stores there, there is nothing from any of them on my gift list this year.  But, I'll take advantage of their welcoming atmosphere and be grateful for it.



*************************** Remember my 100% GUARANTEE. Should you decide to stop walking and resume your old habits, I personally guarantee that you'll get back 100% of your former life - your pain, your lifestyle, your attitude. You can trust the information you find here. It's from a dedicated walker. Trust me and your life will get better! I promise.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Walking The Eleventh Step




Al-anon's Eleventh Step says:
 Sought through Prayers and Mediation to Improve our Conscious Contact with God, As We UNDERSTOOD HIM, Praying Only for the Knowledge of His Will for Us and the Power to Carry That out.

For me, walking is a good time for me to pray and/or meditate.  For me, walking outside makes me feel closer to my Higher Power (HP).  If you're not a 12 Step person, you'll still understand the meaning and impact of the words of this step.  Maybe you don't feel the need for closer contact with a HP or maybe you don't believe in a HP.  Then, just ignore my musings here and continue on your walk.

My journey through the 12 Steps has coincided in time and space with my beginning and continuing to walk.  The two are closely intertwined in my life.  Maybe that's why it has been fairly easy for me to find the time - force the time - for my walks as a priority over most other things in my life.  It's very valuable that my sweet husband both supports and encourages my 12 Step work as well as my walking.  Or maybe he just likes the positive changes he's seen in me over these past 16 years!

So waking and meditating.  When I walk with another person, there is less meditating as I'm busy carrying on a conversation with my walking buddy.  In my case, most of my walking buddies are either in program (al-anon) or they 'get' the concept of seeking closer contact with a HP.

If the idea of walking and meditating appeals to you, read this article that has specific guidelines for doing just that.  When I first began the process, I just figured it out on my own as I had no idea that anyone else was doing it.  That's also the main reason I began writing this blog as there was almost no information online about the benefits of walking - the noncompetitive type walking.  If you want to walk competitively, go for it!  But, this blog and my walking are for my heart, mind, and body and is not a competition.  

Wonderful weather outside aids in the process, but it is not necessary.  Today was a beautiful day in the neighborhood, so I took advantage and walked twice for a total of about 5 miles.  But even on rainy and dreary days, you can often find me outside, braving the elements, to feel that connection to my HP and to keep myself feeling better.  It works for me.


(This article was written on November 29, 2014, a sunny, wonderful day for walking outside.)





*************************** Remember my 100% GUARANTEE. Should you decide to stop walking and resume your old habits, I personally guarantee that you'll get back 100% of your former life - your pain, your lifestyle, your attitude. You can trust the information you find here. It's from a dedicated walker. Trust me and your life will get better! I promise.