The Walking

In the past year, i.e. during 2010, it so happened that I lost around 20 kg. I’m not sure, it could have been more, but it wasn’t less. For twenty or more years I have struggled to lose the accumulated kilos, being miserable on holidays, at functions, on the beach, in change-rooms, at weddings, in front of cameras… you get the picture. Not out and out depressed… just a low-level kind of  ‘oh well.’ The weirdest thing is, I didn’t really think I was that fat. It was like inverted anorexia. I’d look at the mirror and to my mind I’d look the same. Why I looked so enormous in photos was a mystery.  And now and again I’d notice that my clothes looked a bit, how shall I say – vast. And if I ran, the top of my feet hurt as if I’d jumped down off a high wall. So that run ended at the corner and the running shoes were packed away.

Walking with the Hunden

My personal trainers

Then in February last year, my car broke. Suddenly, if I wanted to eat I had to walk to the shops to buy food – not a trainsmash, only about 2km. What also helped was that work was not plentiful, so I began to eat very simply – fresh veggies, steamed and drizzled in olive oil, bread and peanut butter, oats for breakfast or an apple… and wine – well, wine was a distant memory.

The weight loss began, and continued at a pace that amazed me. Naturally this early success and the comments from kindly friends led to greater motivation (it’s always so hard to start) and when I was invited by my buddies to house-sit and walk their two dogs every day while they went away for a few months, things improved even more. Because dogs are not like a personal trainer or your walking buddy. They don’t take no for an answer, no matter what the weather is doing or what your state of mind is. They deeply don’t care. These dogs even toned my arms because they pulled. The first half of the walk was taken up with holding them back. I developed some respectable biceps and triceps!

Putting the final cherry on top was a gall-bladder attack at the end of the year – unbelievably painful. It seems that women over forty, fertile, fat and flatulent (let’s leave that there) are particularly prone to this, but the final straw was the sudden weight loss which seems to have actually caused the attack.  What with the surgery and subsequent jaundice due to a blocked bile duct (one of the gallstones missed the bus during the op) I couldn’t really eat for two weeks because the appetite was gone. Another five kilos or so dropped away.

The wonderful thing is, I feel 20 years younger because this is how I remember my body being back then, and it’s as if I stepped back in time to that life. Except that gym, running, swimming and squash is not part of it for the moment but it will probably happen. When you’re over 50, you need to mind the tendons and joints, and the hips and knees need to be treated well. So once the weight is down to what it was back then, all those marvelous things can begin.

Walking truly is a moving meditation but I thought that was all it was. Who knew it would be this powerful? I tried several times and enjoyed it, but it was hard to allow the time especially if one sits at a computer all day and deadlines are hectic. Still – as a humble hedonist – I promise you – there are things out there you need to see so don’t miss out. Be kind to yourself and enjoy moving through space and hear the rhythm of your feet on the ground. It’s free and (strictly for South Africans here) if you go with dogs or buddies, it’s safe. I know, that sounds negative, but that used to be my biggest brake – ‘it’s not safe out there to walk alone.’

Fear makes you fat. Off you go.



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