I recently paid money to be told the following: take a 20 minute walk every day. Oh, yes, and make sure you eat lots of vegetables and take mild yin every day. I hope I won't be accused of plagiarism for not naming my source. Then, today, there was a bit on the news about a ridiculous experiment with mice: one set of genetically modified mice, poor things, treadmilled for 45 minutes and the other set didn't. Apparently that was the only difference and, guess what? The mice who treadmilled lived longer! I wonder who paid for the research and how much it cost.
|THE NEW ME ON THE LEFT|
According to scientific studies in controlled settings taking a daily, brisk 15 minute walk can significantly dampen cravings for junk food and for cigarettes. Walking also significantly reduced withdrawal symptoms and suppressed appetite.
Back to me: when this person told me to talk a walk every day, not jog, to get fresh air and hence more oxygen in order to look and feel fresher (not in the biblical sense, at least I don't think so). I must confess I became defensive, on the inside, of course. I thought, "I pretzelize myself most mornings and then, the rest of the day, I run around like a lunatic in a sealed building with windows that do not, in fact, open. (My friend has a stepometer or person odometer that adds up how many steps he takes in a day. Apparently that walking doesn't count because it takes place indoors). To say nothing of walking around grocery stores and up and down the stairs in my home. How can that possibly not be enough? And maybe if I lived in Manhattan or Paris or London where there would be someplace to go and things to actually see! My neighbourhood is dreary, bland and boring-only houses, roads and cars! Plus my (pick one: knee, hip, ankle, foot, other knee, other hip, other ankle, other foot) is sore from mysore. And really and truly, I have no time. So there!" But instead I said, "oh, for sure, I understand, I can walk for 20 minutes every day" as if I meant it which I didn't.
Because I like to get my money's worth, and I don't like to lie, no matter how white the lie, and even though he would never know, I decided to give this 20 minute walking every day thing a try. Off I trudged. With my cell phone. Two minutes to the top of my street. Then 5 more minutes to the schoolyard and the little park. Eight minutes. It was too windy to call one of my friends plus, I thought, that might defeat the purpose. Then I remembered that my friend was building a new house just up a ways and I walked there. Ten more minutes. I checked out the house from the edge of the road and turned and walked back another way. A forty minute walk. During my walk back home, I forgot to check my phone for the time! The most horrifying part of the walk was the first three minutes.
The next day I walked to the library. I didn't check my cell phone until I got to the library. Fifteen minutes. Round trip thirty minutes, ten minutes over the minimum! Still measuring time. I'm getting that there's something counter productive about that. But still happy that I am actually setting one foot in front of the other in the great outdoors.
|THE LITTLE PARK|
|A WALKING PATH|
Another day I walked with Devora** to the library and the plaza. That was easy because we talked and went into a store and bought a dog blanket for Naya. It was productive and fun and I only made 1 important call on the cell. That walk lasted an hour!
I've been walking outdoors pretty much every day now. Sometimes aimlessly, sometimes running small errands. Here is what I have discovered:
1. that I live in an amazing neighborhood. Who knew? I've lived here almost 20 years and didn't know there was a castle 3 minutes away. The city is walker friendly, walking paths everywhere meandering in fabulous ravines, beside rushing rivers and on the lakefrontl.
|WAS I LIVING IN VERONA ALL ALONG|
2. that I become distracted and energized about 8 minutes into my walk at which point I no longer care about time or the piles of things I thought I had waiting for me at home.
3. that when I get back I feel fresh and clear headed, a novel experience. An overly acidic condition created by artificial lighting, sealed building and lack of circulation creates tightness, pressure, clutter and static. Walking outdoors, especially in nature, makes your condition more alkaline and balanced, more in harmony with your environment.
4. that I get random ideas while walking, not necessarily original or even good but I think some new part of my brain is activated or perhaps some overused parts are calmed down.
5. that carrying a small notebook and a pencil in case I get a good idea or remember that I'm out of toilet paper and a camera to prove I have been outdoors is helpful. I leave my cell phone at home (not so easy).
6. that after a good brisk walk I feel the way I felt as a child when I was playing outside.
7. that walking outdoors is like pressing the reset button making homeostasis* possible. (In scientific lingo: multiple dynamic equilibrium adjustment and regulation mechanisms, or walking, makes homeostasis possible). This explains why my aches and tightness from yoga practice sort themselves out during my walks.
8. that walking outdoors is a spiritual practice. Pilgrimages are long walks in search of moral significance. They form part of all spiritual and religious practices and, though I have not researched this extensively, I suspect that the direction of travel and the time of the journey are not random but chosen to maximize heavenly influence. For example, on El Camino de Santiago you walk from east to west in the same direction as the Milky Way in harmony with the heavens.
*homeostasis: the property of a system, either open or closed, that regulates its internal environment and tends to maintain a constant, stable condition.
** Devora, of Boeuf Bourguignone fame, also paid money to hear the same piece of advice. Devora said that she walking was out of the question in her neighborhood because of bears and fears of being chased by wild turkeys. Wow!
Then we remembered that Devora is mistress to two mature and very intimidating dogs (although they do look relaxed in the photos). Now Devora is taking long walks outdoors in beautiful Quebec secure in the company of Naya and Sansu!
|DEVORA WALKS HERE!|
NOTE: there is no recipe to go along with this post because, after walking, I am not looking for something to eat but for something to do! And no snacking when walking.