I love walking - something about being out in the open, enjoying the fresh air, taking in the beautiful scenery, watching the different plants flower, to say nothing of the benefits that walking gives you in terms of exercise. It's easy to do and best of all, it's free!
I'm told that to stay healthy, you should aim for 10,000 steps per day. And I'm also told that running does not really give you much benefit over walking, other than being quicker! In other words, it really makes little difference if you walk 10 kilometres versus running them in terms of the health benefits.
I'm not naturally a health freak - exercise does not come naturally to me, and I was never "into sport" as a girl. Having worked in office roles all my working life, I am used to sedentary roles and, now I work from home, the "journey" to work is a short walk down the hallway from the bedroom to the study - so my exercise regime has significantly decreased! To counteract this, I had been meeting up with my personal trainer three times a week and while I love her company, I was starting to lose enthusiasm for the 'torture' she put me through!
They say a "change is as good as a rest", and that if something isn't working, you should do something different, so this year I decided to start my day with a walk. So far, the weather has been kind to me, and while I haven't achieved a walk every day, I've managed it most days.
It gives me time for me - I let my mind wander, and it's amazing the thoughts and ideas that come to me. I enjoy observing the routines that exist around me - the cyclists out in groups on their morning bike ride, chatting as they go; the number of people out either on their own or with a friend, walking or running; the elderly lady who feeds the beautiful lorikeet parrots in her garden - the birds are sitting waiting for her; and Rembrandt, the black labrador who goes nuts when he sees me, running in circles in his garden and then bringing a ball for me to throw for him.
The best part, for me, is when I get to the park area that opens into a clearing overlooking the water. If I've walked fast enough, I can indulge myself by sitting and taking in the beauty for just five to ten minutes, before it's time to walk back home and start my day. And to check that I am reaching my goal of 10,000 steps a day, I wear a small pedometer. Most days I achieve my target - but even if I don't, I know that I have done more than I would have achieved by staying at home!
10,000 steps a day sounded daunting at the beginning, but I really am enjoying it
I'd been into the City for a meeting this morning, and was on the bus on my way home. It wasn't particularly busy, even though it was around lunchtime - I guess many people are still on holiday.
The lady next to me paid made a comment about my dress. It made me smile, I thanked her, and we struck up a pleasant conversation for the rest of our journey.
It didn't matter that I don't know her, or that I may never see her again - in that moment, we were both just talking to strangers, exchanging pleasantries and making the most of an otherwise mundane journey.
As she arrived at her destination and said goodbye, I thanked her for her company and for the chat. As I continued my journey, I reflected on how the journey seemed to have passed quicker than usual, and how I was now smiling - I somehow felt happier! I also realised that, in leading our busy lives, we so often don't even make eye contact with strangers, let alone talk to them. We are either too preoccupied in our own world and thoughts, or we view any interaction with strangers with suspicion, as though there must be something wrong with them if they talk to us.
Today's event gave me something to smile about, and made me feel good. I hope it did the same for her. So I encourage you to try it - just smile and say hello to a stranger today. M, and see if it works for you, too.
It never ceases to amaze me, as the clock strikes midnight on December 31, how people get excited at the prospect of one year ending and a new one beginning. We act as if we only have one chance every twelve months to "start anew".
In reality, however, each new day is an opportunity to make a fresh start, if that's what we choose. Yes, it's good to pick a date and use that as a stake in the ground to measure our performance - for instance, when you look back over the twelve months that marked the year 2010, what did you achieve? what are you proud of? what will you remember about 2010? And what, if you wind the clock forward to December 31, 2011, will you be celebrating as your successes in 2011?
Let's say you set a goal to be healthier in 2011, to look and feel fantastic and to being more physically active. You have given yourself twelve months to achieve that result.
You can now break that goal down into smaller, manageable sections - perhaps a goal for each quarter, each month, each week and each day. So every day you have a small step to take which will bring you one tiny step closer to your end goal.
Let's say that for three weeks you follow your daily and weekly plans without exception, but in week four something happens that throws you off course and you not only stop following your daily plan, but you revert to the old habits that take you further away from your desired result.
Do you throw your hands in the air and tell yourself that it's pointless? That you have to wait until January 1 before you can start again? Maybe you do! Or maybe you are open to the possibility that today brings a clean page in the book of your life for you to make a fresh start towards your goal.
There's a saying that "today is the first day of the rest of my life". As you start each day, tell yourself that your new life starts today. Set your positive intention when you wake up each morning to do whatever it takes to move towards your goal. Over time, the tiniest steps taken each day towards your goal will add up to a whole new you.
Your new life starts today ... every day. Enjoy teh