But now, a year later and 300 miles later, the steps come easier.
It was a little over a year ago I began walking around a park in the town I live with a friend. I wanted to try to get somewhat healthy and lose weight. Too much potato chip chomping and sedimentary life left me, shall we say, “blobby.” The most exercise I was getting was typing news stories at work and rollin' the dice in whatever APBA baseball replay I was engaged with.
So, when a girl who works in the same building as I told me she wanted to walk but was leery of strolling in the park alone, I offered my services. I'm sure she was surprised; I'm sure she thought my idea of exercise was waddling back to the refrigerator for another Pepsi.
But on Aug. 17, 2013, I took that first step. And after about 100 steps I really wondered what I was getting into. The trek was flat, but I felt I had scaled the side of a mountain. I was wheezing, gasping and sweating. I still had three-quarters of the trail left to walk. I forged on, though, and tried not to die.
We made it and returned the following week and looped the trail again.
It became a weekly thing and we logged the miles we hiked. We usually made 5 to 6 miles each time. Sometimes we walked twice in a week, and during the Thanksgiving weekend, we made 22 miles in four days.
As we continued walking in the park, the struggle to take steps lessened and the miles became easier. Walking became easier and was, well, a walk in the park, I guess.
I hit 300 miles earlier this week when I walked a trail by myself. It was the first time I hiked it alone and I spent the two hours thinking of the trees, flora and nature I saw; failed relationships; and the path I had taken in my life. It was a combination of David Thoreau and Cheryl Strayed that day. Well, throw in Curly Stooge to that mix of deep thinkers — I failed to bring water and only had a Diet Pepsi to quench my thirst on a hot, humid Arkansas day.
The best thing: I began losing weight. Lots. This sounds insane and like I made this up, but in the year I've walked, I've lost 100 pounds. I still have another 40 to lose to be where I need to be, but it is a huge accomplishment to me. It's also an indication of just how dang big I was. To lose 100 pounds and still be what doctors refer to as obese fattassicus kind of gives one the impression that I was a tad big. Big as planetary big, big as in my girth needed at least two ZIP codes, big as in blocking the sun and scaring children and dogs.
I also gained a good friend. Walk 300 miles with someone and you get to know that person well. We talked about work, life, sports, writing ideas and whatever else fell out of my brain. She showed great patience, too, with my ramblings and observations — enough patience to make me wonder if the friendship could advance to something more. But, it didn't. Like I said, walk 300 miles with me and you get to know me well.
We're going walking again tomorrow and I'll log the miles when we're finished. I'm stunned I kept at it for a year, but the weight loss has been a big motivator. And the knowledge that a year ago, as I wrote in a previous piece here, getting out of the car winded me. Now, it's just a walk in the park.