Sometimes I have to remind myself that just getting out the door for a walk is a huge accomplishment.
I am great at beating myself up for not moving enough, for not eating healthy enough, for just not being enough.
So I have to remind myself.
I have been carrying an extra 20 kilos for the last 15 years, which is exactly how long I’ve been on anti-depressants. I suspect that nothing short of a major lifestyle change will enable me to shift it and going off my meds is not yet an option.
So I have to remind myself that a) I have depression and b) I am on medication. When my mood is low, getting out the door and moving really is an achievement.
I will never be a runner, nor do I want to be one. I am, however, a walker. It’s been my favourite form of exercise for like, ever. As a child, I was allowed to roam the neighbourhood pretty freely and walked huge distances just about every day, especially on holidays.
I have lovely memories of summer holidays in the Polish countryside where I rambled through wheat fields, cow pastures and the local cemetery. There were favourite houses I checked on on my walks and the best spots to pick wild flowers.
I walked to and from school, went bushwalking on holidays and explored several European cities on foot.
When my babies were little I regularly walked with the pram for both exploratory and exercise purposes and when they grew I walked alongside them on their bikes. The older they became though, the less willing they were to get out for a longer walk. And, frankly, walking with small children is more of an exploration than actual exercise.
My moving became haphazard over the years, especially since my youngest started school. I can’t blame lack of time, it was pure laziness. Walking along the same streets day in day out became really boring for someone who’s always equated walking with exploring.
Looking for motivation and accountability, I joined Operation Move and it’s been life changing.
When everyone in the group is moving and discussing their moving, it is hard to keep sitting on the couch or in front of the computer. There have been many occasions when just thinking about the group has got my butt out the door and walking.
Whenever I feel bad that I’ve only walked once in a week, rather than my goal of three, someone in the group will remind me that it’s one time more than somebody who hasn’t moved at all.
OperationMOVE has shifted my view of walking from exploration to serious exercise and so now I take it seriously. I still walk the same streets, but I concentrate on what I’m doing, rather than on my surroundings. I focus on the work my body is doing and repeat affirmations as I go. Sometimes I look up to take in my environment and am grateful for making the move out of Melbourne.
Taking walking seriously, I even bought workout singlets and sports bras and am no longer ashamed of my body as I walk. Because I AM moving.
I doubt that my goal of walking 3 times a week will make much of a difference to my weight, but it is definitely making me fitter and I have lost a few kilos, as I also adjusted what I eat.
My walking pace has improved heaps since joining Operation Move and taking walking seriously helps me feel better about myself. My mood is better when I walk regularly and I am slowly beginning to organise my days around my walks. Sometimes we do family walks, but I prefer to walk alone.
Walking is one of my strategies for managing depression and anxiety. I’ve already reduced one of my medications and will try to reduce the other soon.
Being medication free and sane are my ultimate goals. Losing all that weight would be a bonus. I wonder if I can get there.
Dorothy has been blogging for over five years, most recently at Dorothy K. She blogs to keep herself sane, more or less, writing about resilience, mental health and solo parenting.
A sole parent of two boys, Dorothy is also a freelance copywriter, thinker and problem solver. Since beginning blogging she has launched two businesses and left Melbourne to live in Ballarat.