Could I join a gym and get any benefit from it whatsoever? No. I would join and then be completely overwhelmed by all that I was not fit enough to even attempt. StairMaster? Ha! Elliptical Trainer? No Way! Weights? WTH?!!!
So, what could I do at 370 pounds that would be simple enough and easy enough for me to get the benefits of exercise and increase my stamina to the point where I could try other things?
Okay, I know what you are thinking. You are thinking that walking is easy and how could I not have instantly arrived at the conclusion that walking would be good for me? Well, walking was not easy. I didn't want to walk around the corner to the bus stop every morning. I didn't want to walk that short distance so much that I took a cab to and from work every day. Don't even ask how much that extravegance cost me. So, the very idea of actively walking for exercise did not appeal to me at all.
How did I get up and start doing it? It was a slow process. First I ditched the cabs. I started to walk to the bus stop every day. Once I was comfortable in that I would throw in short spurts of walking around the neighborhood - a few minutes here, a few minutes there. I eventually started to walk in 30 minute increments at a snail's pace. But that wasn't going to cut it. I had to not only increase the time I walked but the distance and the speed. How was I going to do that? I didn't have a clue.
Then Hurricane Ike hit Houston and messed up everything. In the days following Ike, the power at my building at work was restored and it was decided to resume operations. Unfortunately METRO, Houston's bus service, was not running at all. It did resume very limited service on the day I was to report back to work. However, only one of the buses that I take to work was running at all. How was I going to get to work? Then it dawned on me. I could walk the remaining half a mile to work. This was the start of a brand new chapter in my life. I walked that half a mile for 4 days until METRO resumed normal operations. It was invigorating. I felt like I was climbing a mountain. I felt such a rush walking that much on a daily basis. And when METRO resumed service? I didn't stop. I kept going by walking that half mile to the bus stop for the second bus home every day. It was awesome. I was doing something every day that counted as exercise. But after a few weeks I knew I had to do more. But what? Well, every day I would stop at the Central Market on the way home and grab a cup of coffee and read my book. I did a quick search on MapQuest and found that it was exactly 2.3 miles from Central Market to my apartment. But 2.3 miles is a lot to walk at one time. I was scared I couldn't handle it. One Saturday after I had lunch at CM I decided to take a test run. I started that long walk home. I am going to be honest. I couldn't walk it all in one fell swoop. I had to stop a few times along the way and rest. But I made it. I walked the entire distance home! Me, the perennial couch potato, had walked 2.3 miles intentionally for exercise. But now what? How could I do this regularly? I decided to start doing it 3 times per week - every Monday, Wednesday and Friday I walked home from CM. It wasn't the fastest trip. I could only walk a normal pace - around 2 miles per hour. It would usually take me 70 minutes to make the trip. After a week I was able to do it without stopping at all. I made that walk for 6 weeks, increasing it to 5 days per week after the first 3 weeks. I kept the same pace but I was doing it more.
Then I dipped below 300 pounds on the scale. That event was monumental in my life because I hadn't been below 300 pounds for nearly a decade. Plus my energy levels were through the roof. I knew I was capable of doing more than the slow walk home every day. I had to take it up a notch. I did. I am now up to walking 3 miles per day. I've not only increased the distance, but the speed as well. I can do that 3 miles in exactly one hour. It didn't happen overnight. It took me months to get here. But I am here now. I am doing it. I am an exerciser!
A funny little thing I do is that I've adapted a take on the song from Madagascar as my motivational tool. Each and every day I sing this to myself when I wake up and before I go out to do my walk.
I've got to move it, move it. I've got to move it, move it. I've got to move it, move it. Move It!!!