Since I ran a marathon 2 weeks ago I took my time going back to Crossfit and I’ve mostly just been walking a lot.
Please don’t roll your eyes, I’m still just as badass as I’ve always been ;) (or so I keep telling myself some days) and I have also been for a few 8-10km runs but running slowly is just an extension of walking so let’s talk about walking.
Walking is hugely underrated.
Exercise these days seems to be all about ‘beasting’ and ‘suffering’ and ‘going hard or going home’. I love Crossfit so I obviously get some major kicks out of HARD workouts but I think for the majority population who want to be healthy in body and mind, and are looking for how to start moving more, walking and slow running is a much better start than ‘beasting it’ with things like crazy HIIT workouts.
People who feel intimidated by gyms, Crossfit or exercising in groups in general often turn to online exercise classes or apps where you find these short, frantic sweat sessions. I know a lot of people who enjoy that kind of thing but the couple of times I’ve done HIIT at home (Barry’s Bootcamp) I have not felt healthy, empowered, invigorated or happy. The trainers are usually not my body type and the only thing I can think of when I do the crazy jump squats or hyper-speed mountain climbers is “This is your punishment for being fat.”
Crossfit is super hard as well but mentally it’s different for me. There the context is athletic, the people are more my body type, the focus is on strength and not ‘toning’. Crossfit is not accessible (location, $$, etc.) for everyone though and it doesn’t suit all personality types, so I would say if that you need to move more, just go for a walk to begin with. Every day, as often as you can. Little bits add up to a lot.
Walking is free, it’s gentle on your body and calming for your mind. It definitely helps in weight control, I didn’t do any exercise other than walking throughout my pregnancies and until I finished breastfeeding a year after giving birth and all extra weight came off.
Often people ask me which is more important to weight loss or weight maintenance: eating better or exercising. They know it’s both but they want to know which one matters more. The thing is – one thing helps the other.
If I exercise I eat better and if I eat better I have more energy to exercise (or I’m less bloated and therefore more comfortable, etc.).
On days I’m in the office and don’t walk for more than 3000-5000 steps all day I feel fat and I eat crap because I feel like a blob anyway.
On days I don’t run but walk at least 15,000 steps a day, I feel the same as on exercise days – I WANT to eat all the vegetables and if I eat some chocolate or ice cream, I don’t immediately feel like a fat blob. My body has had the nutrients already from my meals and it’s had enough movement. A little bit of sugar does not affect me mentally as much then as it would on a totally sedentary day.
(It’s hilarious to me, by the way, when the fitspos who take counting macros super seriously say to eat less on rest days. Emotionally and physically that just does not work for me. The less I move, the more junk I eat.)
Walking does not make you strong (unless you walk up hills or stairs) but it makes you get to know your body, to enjoy movement to slow down your thoughts. It gives you energy which will lead to other healthy changes in your life.
It might lead you to run. It might lead you to Crossfit. It might lead you to yoga. It might lead you to hike mountains.
So if you know you need to exercise and eat better and don’t have a clue where or how to start – start by going for a nice long walk every single day.