My parents have always been fans of a walk in the great outdoors. I have not. I hated it with the kind of angst you would expect from Harry Enfield's teenage character, Kevin. I simply could not understand what the point was of walking for the sake of walking. Walking to get from A to B was understandable, walking for walking's sake? Leave me out of it, I'd rather plant myself in front of the TV.
I was also (much to the sadness of my sporty father) really quite lazy when it came to sports. When I applied myself in netball I was ok, but I hated Lacrosse and the enforced run up a steep hill on a drizzly winter's day with a passion. As a child I had loved swimming, but even that eventually became a chore under the harsh eye of a rather demanding PE teacher. However, I now understand (in a way I couldn't in my teens) why she was so demanding . It was her way of trying to motivate a bunch of lazy teenagers. She didn't expect us all to be good, she just wanted us to do our best. Interestingly, when I started playing tennis with a friend, the teacher who had (in my head) previously made my life hell, was suddenly positive and encouraging. Looking back she would have seen a bunch of teenagers who didn't know how lucky they were that everything was still in the right place, and for whom the ageing process had not yet begun.
As I hit my early twenties I started to fill out a little - to the rather embarrassing extent that I once rang a friend in a panic from a shop changing room as I had managed to get my boobs stuck in a top. I noticed my body changing, and that suddenly all the boozing brought with it a little weight gain I hadn't seen before. It still didn't encourage me to move my arse though because I could still easily fit into my size 10 jeans. Lucky bitch. I have to work for that now.
I don't think I really took up walking for exercise and for pleasure until about a year ago. I had always done a lot of walking on holidays when exploring somewhere new, but for some reason I still wouldn't just "go for a walk". I became very interested in the idea of buying a Fit Bit to track my steps. My dad had one and he had found it motivated him to be on his feet more. I felt that if I had a Fit Bit it would encourage me to get out of the office more on a lunch break, to get some fresh air, see some more of the city I work in, and just generally help with my fitness and well-being. I was right! As soon as I got my FitBit I was off exploring parks at lunch breaks, and working to get my target of 10,000 steps a day. I took pleasure in using this little gadget as an excuse to get out and about, and it felt great! I also went out of my way to try and do a minimum of 250 steps per hour for 8 hours a day. This involved a lot of getting up to make cups of tea or running up and down the stairs like a loon much to the amusement of some of my colleagues.
I soon found that 10,000 steps was too easy a target. I did around 5,000 steps on my commute alone. So I upped the target to 12,000. Still achievable, but harder to do without some concerted effort.
A trip to the States in April brought the perfect opportunity to get in some serious walking. Our first stop was New York. We spent 3 days almost solidly on our feet. On one day alone we walked over 34,000 steps and covered 23km! Lee and I were broken! But we had seen so much, it was totally worth it.
Our next trip to Vegas, followed by 8 days in LA also gave us ample opportunity to get out and about exploring. Walking up and down the Vegas strip will invariably tot up the steps without you even realising it. Los Angeles brought with it the chance to explore places such as Santa Monica, Universal Studios, Beverley Hills, Pasadena and Disneyland. However, as this fell under the category of exploring it still didn't quite count as walking for walking's sake. Another change was about to come my way though. We met up with an old work colleague who lived in Hollywood. She suggested that we join her for a trip to Griffith Park as I was super keen to see the Griffith Observatory. It was a very hot sunny day and Rachael, rather than taking us the easy way up, took us the steeper, harder route. It was a great work out. The slope was steep and you could really feel it in your calves and thighs. It was a good 25-30 min walk up to the Observatory, but it was so worth it. Although I had come to see something, I had really relished the challenge of the workout and felt amazing for having done it. My reward was getting to stand where James Dean had stood in Rebel Without a Cause (my main reason for wanting to visit), and getting my first chance to see the Hollywood sign. I really enjoyed the buzz of having walked to the top (a lot of tourists drive up in cars or coaches) and the views were amazing. In fact, Lee and I enjoyed our LA hike so much, we did the same thing a couple of days later. There really is nothing like getting out in the fresh air, especially on a sunny day.
That desire to get out and about has continued since my trip to the states, and I now find myself walking to the gym and back every Saturday (even those days I could have driven I have chosen to walk) and on Christmas day 2017, I chose to do a 3.5 mile walk in the fresh air down by the sea in Somerset because I wanted to. Hell, last Sunday I went for a walk in my local park in the sleet, just because I was so desperate to enjoy some fresh air and see some green, and no crappy weather was going to hold me back. I even took pleasure in the stormy weather this morning, actually enjoying the wind and rain on my face as I walked to and from the doctors, just happy to be outside.
My Fit Bit has helped me get outside and moving, and in doing so it has helped me appreciate how much there is to see, and how good some fresh air feels in your lungs. It has also helped me to take advantage of some moments to myself, to calm down, collect my thoughts, or to just blast some awesome music in my ears.
It doesn't mean every day is 12,000 steps, but it does mean that a lot of them are.
Maybe its my age, but now, finally, I get what my parents were so enthusiastic about.