Reflections, Upon Learning to Walk

My relationship with exercise is not a complex one. I just don’t do it. Exercise, that is. I don’t even attempt it in the slightest way. No gym, no yoga, no home fitness vids…you get the picture: no exercise.

That’s not to say I haven’t tried. In 2012 when I was newly single I figured hey, maybe I should get on that bangin’ body mission or whatever people do when they’re on that post-break-up self-improvement vibe. But when I went I realised that reading Mills & Boon erotica on the treadmill whilst engaging in a very low-energy shuffle wasn’t really making the most of my gym fees. That last less than ten gym trips, and my new trainers are still incredibly white.

Last year I signed up to Fitness Blender and attempted some of their videos because I figured you know, they’re free, they’re quick, and I can do them without leaving my house. That lasted about…six videos. The same ten minute video, I should add, attempted six times. Squats don’t count if you never stand back up.

So as you can see, I’m not exactly the fittest of people. However, when reading Polly Vernon’s Hot Feminist (really everyone should read this book, it is quite fantastic), amongst her many, many interesting points, I found her approach to health quite accessible, because she loves to walk. So I thought to myself, I can walk, I can do that almost every day without tripping over (that’s generous, most days I do trip over). And with that, in January I started to walk.

My reason for walking is twofold, and I will own that the first reason is vanity. Look, I love my bod and I’ve got a butt that won’t quit which I am incredibly attached to. I’m comfortable with myself. I judge my body based how I feel in it, rather than weighing myself, which I avoid as much as possible. So generally I’m happy. But I’ve noticed over time that it is a little more difficult to maintain a comfortable, happy attitude towards one’s body without a little work. I’m not bothered enough to give up carbs or chocolate or, most importantly booze, so instead I probably have to engage in some form of physical exertion. I know some of the more hardcore fitness kids amongst my readers might sigh at the thought of me assuming that a gentle stroll would up my fitness levels, but you should know that I am an incredibly speedy walker, so doing it for an hour is pretty good going fitness-wise.

The second reason is internal. Anxiety is a thing and it’s a reality of life for a lot of people, myself included. This post is about my walking so I won’t go into the anxiety because I honestly don’t think it’s the most interesting thing about me or about this particular blog post. It is there, and the proverbial ‘they’ say that exercise helps anxiety. But since we’ve already established that I don’t do that, something like joining a gym and then failing to go would be the kind of anxiety trigger one hopes to avoid. But a gentle walk, now that I can do. This mainly helps my anxiety because, and I’m not an advocate for a digital detox, but it does get me off my laptop and largely away from my phone for an hour, which can only be a good thing, right? It gives me an hour to step away from Twitter and from my wardrobe, get some fresh air and have a chat to myself in my head.

Walking has taught me many things, and one is that as much as I love London, Oxford Circus makes me an angry person. I go there almost every day because it’s nearby, and I get frustrated by other people walking and it makes me a bit of a dick. In Regent’s Park, nobody is in my way, and I am not angry, nor am I a dick. It has also taught me that things are a lot closer than I realised. Camden, for example, is only 27 minutes walk from my house. Who knew? Not me, that’s for sure. But now I do, and 27 minutes is a period of time that I can deal with.

So now I walk. For about an hour each day I walk, whether it’s to a specific location, or whether it’s a walk around Regent’s Park. The other day at the park I met some ducks which were incredibly photogenic and seemed like they were having a great time. It’s nice, and, an added bonus: I can’t wait until my butt that won’t quit is as solid as a rock rock rock.

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