My heart is pumping so hard it’s about to explode and splatter inside of my rib cage.
Blood screams through my veins and makes my eardrums thump like a hyperactive drummer boy.
I am boiling hot with a cold frosting, as the November breeze sucks the sweat off my face.
My thighs are pistons slowly grinding up and down, glowing orange with the heat of pain and exhaustion.
It’s been 33 years since I’ve experienced these sensations, cross country running for my high school team.
My son Koby and I were on a college tour in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
My niece Rebecca lives out there, and when she hospitably offered to take us on a hike, my hand shot up. Who doesn’t love a nice stroll with a mountain vista?
I assumed that a hike in small town Squamish, less than an hour’s drive from downtown Vancouver, was going to be of the horizontal variety, with a couple of inclines, just like back home.
In retrospect, I was suckered in with “It’s one of the most popular hikes.” The name of the trail, “The Chief,” should have set off alarm bells, but I wasn’t listening.
The twisty mountain road leading to Squamish from the city was enchanting. Endorphins clouded my judgment when “The Chief” was pointed out to me in the distance.
I raised my hand to shield my eyes from the sun. “It’s only three fingers tall,” I deluded myself.
The Chief trail is 99.9% vertical.
I was hoping with all my being that we would hit a long flat meadow around the next bend…
No flat stretches.
The vertical just didn’t stop!
Steep wooden stairs, well-worn rock faces, and the odd ladder, here and there.
I fully expected that at any moment I’d imploded and spontaneously combusted at the same time!
Alternatively, I had visions of giving up, turning around with my tail between my legs and having to retreat to the rental car in the parking lot at the base of the trail.
I glanced up. Another flight of these torturous stairs!
Koby and Rebecca, both less than half my age, and in excellent athletic condition, were suffering too!
What’s going on?! I’m almost 50 years old, and I can keep up with them, even as my heart was puffing up like a Pelican’s throat pouch with every beat.
My legs still moved, even though they weighed a ton and were on fire.
At times I was even able to overtake the kids or hover in-between them.
How was that possible?
14 months before this moment, I was 30+ pounds overweight. I sat on my fat butt every day as I worked on the computer.
I planned to go to the gym, but something always came up, and I would postpone my exercise. I had been living like this for decades.
It wasn’t until I gave up on the idea of going to the gym, and decided to look at everything in my daily life as a form of exercise, that things changed for me.
In November 2013, I bought my first digital pedometer (a Fitbit Zip) and started to look at life through an objective lens.
I would measure how much I would walk in a week and what those activities were. Then, I would figure out how to hack them.
I discovered that my weekly grocery shopping trip would include 1- 1.5mi/1.6-2.4km of walking.
I experimented with ways to increase that. I’d park as far away from the grocery store as I could. After loading groceries in the car, I would walk the shopping cart back into the store and then return to the car.
If ground coffee were the same price or on sale at another store in the mall complex, I would walk there too. Before I knew it, I was able to push my weekly grocery shopping distance to 2.5mi/4km.
That doesn’t sound like much, but over a year that is an extra 130mi/209km of walking for exercise that I would capture, just grocery shopping.
Commuting via Public Transport
I was like everyone else. When waiting for a bus or train, I’d zone out until my mode of transportation arrived.
I started to look at this downtime as an opportunity. Rather than stand around and wait, what would happen if I walked one, two or more stops on either end of my commute?
Repurposing that time would add 3mi/4.9km a day, which would be approximately 780mi/1,255km a year!
Walking the Dogs
Not everyone has a dog, or two, so if you don’t, consider the very healthy habit of taking a brisk walk in the morning, at lunch and before bed.
I use to walk my two dogs together and get about 3mi/4.8km a day.
Often times, I’d have issues when one of the dogs sees a squirrel, the other dog grabs his leash in her mouth to reign him in for me.
I thought it was more efficient to walk them together. Then it dawned on me; If I walked the dogs separately, I’d save time dealing with the entangled leashes.
Now I have a peaceful brisk walk with each dog, and I get 6mi/9.6km a day. That adds up to 2,190mi/3,524km a year.
In Summary, walk every chance you get, and you will see results!
By looking at everything I did in my daily routine from the mundane to the necessary, I was able to extract more walking out of everything.
In the first six months of doing this (plus hacking my diet), I lost 30lb/13.6kg and walked 1,000mi/1,609km.
Four and half years after reinventing my lifestyle, I’ve maintained 35lb of weight loss and walked 12,716mi/20464km, over 51% of the way around the earth.
I achieved all of this by changing the HOW but not the WHAT of my lifestyle.
Hiking “The Chief” was 14 months after I had started harvesting walking from everything I did. Much to my surprise that day, I was able to tap into a reservoir of strength, and stamina built through the simple habit of walking.
I was delighted at being able to not only make it up to the summit but also down, which was also tough. I fully expected to be paralyzed with muscle fatigue for days following this accomplishment. To the contrary, I experienced no adverse effects.
My Fitbit One digital pedometer, which records flights of stairs climbed, was smoking and at the summit after recording 166 flights in that one session!
You Are What You Do!
Reveling in my accomplishment at the summit of The Chief, I was taking it in the Vista when a gentleman walked into my field of view. I greeted him and bragged how I was amazed to have survived the hike up. He wasn’t impressed but congratulated me anyway. I asked him if this was his first time ascending The Chief.
He responded by putting me in my rightful place! Pointing to his house in the town of Squamish below us, he told me he was 67 years old and climbs The Chief every Saturday and Sunday for a little fresh air and a stroll!
How to seize your Superior Wellness
The Welln.es Learning Community (WLC) includes all the best, practical step-by-step strategies that I have tried and tested since 2013, so you don’t have to.
The WLC courses are not vague outlines but rather specific step-by-step, day-by-day plans that anyone can do and integrate with their current lifestyle.
The content is infused with colorful illustrative stories and a playfulness intended to make the experience of reinventing your lifestyle fun.
Here are some of the courses that you could start with today;
Quick Wins is the cheat code you need to get motivated. Quick and easy tips that will give you results, fast! This is a short course to kick-start your Welln.es journey.
If you are a soda drinker, then you have to check out the “Quit Drinking Soda” course a step-by-step guide to quit drinking soda on your terms and tailored to your tastes.
Quit Drinking Soda
A step-by-step guide to quit drinking soda on your terms, tailored to your tastes.
And if you eat, which hopefully you do regularly, The “Crush Your Appetite now” course shows you how to take back control of your appetite, without suffering.
Crush Your Appetite Now!
This course will guide and support you, step-by-step, in taking back control of your appetite, without suffering. Learn this life-long skill now.
And if you want to have some fun, then check out the “2-2-2 Challenge” which will make improving your health and wellness fun. Do it on your own, with friends or other wellness students that can cheer you on in the forums.
The 2-2-2 Challenge
Why not make improving your health and wellness fun with Challenges! Start with 2-2-2 Challenge and do it with Welln.es students or invite your friends.
There are lots of great course choices in the Welln.es Learning Community and we are adding new ones all the time. Check back regularly.
“It’s the little things that count, hundreds of them.” – Cliff Shaw
There is no quick fix strategy that will help you permanently regain your health and wellness.
It is only through many small mindful actions every day that you will reinvent your lifestyle and live better.
The Welln.es Learning Community will help you achieve permanent change, starting today!