So, as the title suggests, I went for a walk today. Got up, had some cereal, downloaded a walking distance tracking app and went.
It sounds like no big deal, and it isn’t for most. Today was different though. My thinking around walking and just going out had changed. Many steps, transformations, and changes in perception have lead up to this moment. I really can’t pinpoint one reason why today was different, but I was inspired to write some of the reasons it was and how I got here.
I had not been taught to love myself, accept my body, and disregard what others think. I’ve spent most of my 34 years concerned about all these things and being completely unforgiving and judgmental of myself. I’ve bullied myself for many years.
Partly a reaction and partly a protective mechanism, I’ve become very large. Not in the woo-hoo body positive “yeah I’m a big girl and I love it” way. I’ve been insecure, self-sabotaging and have had a long held belief that I am so flawed and vulnerable that I deserve to be huge and unloved and disgusting- because I’ve felt disgusting inside. I recently read a comment someone wrote about plus-sized women and how we are always told that our weight is not ok and something we need to fix, to change. That there is this huge public sense of approval of someone who is fat if, and only if, they are doing something about it at any time they’re in public view. Ok, fatty, you’re allowed to be outside and part of the world because you are on your way to the gym or are eating an apple. I realized that I had internalized this message and felt ashamed about eating around others and constantly judged myself when I was outside doing something as simple as a walk. I imagined all kinds of horrible things people might be thinking about me as I walked. “yikes, good thing she’s out here, has she ever got weight to lose!”” Ohh, you shouldn’t be stopping, you got a long way to go to get fit” ” What are you smiling about fatso, you’re disgusting!” “Are you sure you want that ice cream?” Even when I was feeling good about myself, the imagined thoughts of other included judgments like ” well you look nice, for a fat person”, or the common, “oh, she’s so pretty, if only she’d lose weight”.
As I write these thoughts, I’m feeling a lot of emotion come up. Some sadness and a whole lot of compassion for the pain I’ve caused myself in thinking this way. I’ve been on a journey of healing with some moments of very intense release of past hurts and ways of thinking about myself. Today’s walk marked a milestone on this journey because I just walked. I enjoyed the feeling of moving, I relished the fresh breeze, the green, the water, the beautiful water lilies. The sounds of the ducks and seagulls competing for my attention when I stopped to sit (sadly for them, I hadn’t brought any bread crumbs!)
I wasn’t thinking of this walk as part of a ‘weight loss journey’, something I ‘should’ do, I had no destination in mind or goal. I just walked. I tracked my distance because I wanted to as a fun way for me to keep track of something tangible from my journey. I don’t care about my pace or the calories burned. It’s funny, I just realized that this feels familiar. In the Fall of 2008, I walked the Camino de Santiago (approx 800+ km across northern Spain). I hadn’t trained but I did it by getting up and walking everyday. One of the things I loved the most about it was that while your day would start with a general idea of how far you had to go to get to the next place you would sleep, the only thing you had to do was walk. Walk, drink water, stop to eat when needed, then keep walking. It is the most natural thing in the world. As I walked today, I resonated with the memory of the rhythm of moving, my foot falls, the feeling of being present in my body. That’s it. It felt so good to just walk again.