How walking (just walking!) Changed my life


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A health realization that changed my life

While I was in college, my roommate, Kristi, convinced me to go to the gym with her. I remember feeling intimidated. I was mild, pale and gothic charged with ox lipstick and no muscle tone. I was sure everyone could say I was a cheater in borrowed Lycra.

Reluctantly, I got on the bike next to hers and started pedaling. The gym smelled of sulfur and cooked ham, but other than that, it wasn’t that bad. In fact, it was almost fun. I thought the point was to go as fast as possible so I pedaled like a beast on blurred legs from a cartoon.

Kristi warned me to walk, but I felt good. I remember thinking: This is my first time at the gym and I’m burning! I go twice as fast as Kristi, and she goes to the gym every day! Can we even talk … stuff for the Olympics?? After forty-five minutes of pure gold, I triumphantly got off my bike.

But as I walked to the fountain, one strange thing happened: I noticed that my legs had turned into rubber bands. All the sounds of the gym were suddenly muffled and before I realized it, I slipped between two bikes and fainted. They drove me back to their home in an ambulance. In front of my sympathy.

And that was it for me.

For years, I thought health belonged to Healthy Nuts: SoulCyclers, Vegans, Celery Juice Drinks, Running every day no matter what. Health was possessed by people like my friend, Jamie, who did yoga on her head while she was in labor with her second child.

I thought it was good for her, and yahoo for all those other people, but I didn’t inherit that gene. I fell more into the camp of those who dream of their next meal. And those who like rainy days because the pressure to go outside and do something fun decreases … you can read all day and not feel guilty!

But as I grew older and perhaps was a little wiser, after I gave birth to my children and my joints creaked and words like colonoscopy slipped into my vernacular, my view of health began to shift. Health did not have to mean athletic. This does not mean a perfect body mass index. Either I had to eat the seeds or even stand on my head.

The health was much greater than that. Was careful. It was about being curious and observing in this moment, noticing the world around you. For example, on an evening walk, you might discover the way the last burst of sunlight illuminates the leaves on the trees, glistening like gold stains on a costume. Or appreciate how good it feels to take off a sweat-soaked bra and get under a hot shower after a strenuous, albeit shaky yoga. You allow yourself to close your eyes for 20 minutes a day when you really need it, no matter how busy you are. You dare to jump from the lushness into the cold ocean. It is observing your ability to fill your lungs with air, capturing the gift of being alive.

It took me a long time to realize that these things also belong to me, and not just the supernatural.

It’s safe to say I’ll never race on the Tour de France, and I’ll never actually jump into something that even looks like a bike, but I’ve found that I’m great on two legs. I walk a lot these days, giving myself small goals and rewards. For example, I’ll walk three miles to an agricultural market for a bag of muddy peaches. I will leave my neighborhoods to do the jobs I previously went by train. Last weekend, I wandered to a tourist street dotted with boutiques full of the types of glittery dresses that can be worn for the Oscars. Stepping into one, I surprised myself by grabbing a handful of dresses, each more unusual than the next. Old man, I may have disassembled my flaws by standing in front of a huge mirror. But for the moment I was delighted, giggling in my sneakers and firm, though unshaven legs.

I realized that healthier is happier and under my control.


Lisa Rubisch she started her career at MTV and now directs commercials and music videos for major brands on Park Pictures in New York. She wrote other essays for Cup Jo, including which made us cry.

PS How to be present i cycling with babies.

(Photo by Alina Hvostikova / Stocksy.)


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