on walking with others

so it is almost two months since I completed the Million Step Challenge, by the end of September I had amazingly walked over 650 miles.  The benefits of walking are with me every single day.

I am passionate about the difference it can make to life, getting active, feeling in touch with my body and with the world, not even the onset of winter in the Peaks has dissuaded me.  I continue to walk, not every single morning, sometimes it is just too dark and damp, but it is a rare day I am not out and about.

One joy is that I am able to share my experience and my passion with others.  The group I set up on Facebook continues to attract new members, each sharing and supporting with their walking stories.  Last week I took this a step further and began the Walking Well group for parents at a local primary school.  Funded by the local council I am able to run a twice weekly walking group which has quickly captured members who are already benefiting from regular exercise and social contact.

Seeing the delight on the faces of people who had never walked anywhere as they increase the step count is amazing.  Listening to tales of solo walking, of using stairs instead of lifts, of the joy of being outside.  This is powerful stuff.  So simple, one step in front of another, on the streets where you live.  This works.

So, world I am coming to get you.  I have a model that is working, evidence to prove the point and am available to go where ever it is needed.  Watch this space. I will get the world walking, one step at a time!!

on moving towards new beginnings

the saying goes that a rolling stone gathers no moss, I am sure there is truth in that.  I also know that a rolling snowball attracts more snow as it moves.  I, on the other hand, had not moved at all for years and yet now I am on track things are moving all around me.

As I began my journey to fitness early this year I had no clue where the road would take me.  At best I thought I might lose a bit of weight, feel a bit healthier and perhaps get more mobility.  All that happened and more.  I am now, some six months on, fitter, lighter and happier.  All is well.

So, here I am, still in my kitchen, sitting at the table writing my blog.  I have just come in from a two and a half mile walk, mostly in the rain, and I am realising that one of the most positive things I get from walking is thinking time.

In my busy life there is always something that needs my attention.  I go from place to place, from space to space getting on with stuff, a hundred different things to remember, a dozen jobs needing doing.  In the background there is noise, the radio, tv, people chatting, my ears are full of sounds that assault my thoughts.

This morning walking in the cold, damp Peak District air, I saw almost no one else. A couple of dog walkers on the other side of the street and me, walking in the world, alone with my thoughts.  It is mighty powerful stuff.

Today my thoughts are on my plans to help and encourage others to walk well, as I have done.  On how I can reach out and motivate those who believe that they cannot exercise at all. I am mostly thinking of how my life used to be.  The days I couldn’t walk for pain in all my joints, when I sat on the sofa with chocolate, kidding myself I was happy with me.

Well, I am happier now for sure.  It would appear that I am not a rock gathering no moss as I move, I am much more the snowball, attracting like minded people as I roll on down life’s hills and dales. Things are coming together, but I am under no illusions.  I am still me, I still worry about stuff, still get cross about injustice and unfairness in the world and I need time to think about all of this.

Walking gives me this time.  To just be.  Putting one foot in front of another towards the rest of my life.

on not walking

the million steps are behind me, I think the latest total was over 250,000 more than that required.  Yet I can see no reason to stop walking.  A daily total of between five and seven miles makes me happy.  The air is fresher now each morning, a cold frost at times, but as ever the start to the day makes everything that much better.

So, when on Monday, last week I noticed a strange sensation at the back of my knee I tried to ignore it.  Not a pain, more of a tightness, it was annoying at best.  By Wednesday I am in the gym, yes I actually do that too now, and talking to my instructor about the strange pain when he suggested some exercises I can try.

Feeling very smug on being able to sit on the floor I gamely try to stretch the leg and hope all will be well.  It seems it is.  So, back on the treadmill I go.  I walk fast, just short of a jog until, with a sickening rip my leg goes into spasm.  I slow the belt down and continue to walk. This was a mistake.

Later I leave the gym to walk home through the park.  It is a sunny day and there are lots of people about.  I get no more than 50 yards from the gym and my leg gives way.  I cannot move.  I stand, wondering what to do next.  Luckily my hubby answers his phone, and is on his way to collect me.

So, that was the end of my walking for the week.  It has been a strange few days.  My mornings have been spent in the kitchen not on the street, my days have involved using my car to get from A to B and I do not like it.  Not at all.

Patience has never been a strength of mine.  I understand that I need to rest my leg, but I so want to be out and about.  I think I am afraid of what will happen if I stop walking.  I fear I will return to the old ways, the days of biscuits and cake, of not walking, of gaining weight.  This cannot happen, I have given all my large clothes away!!

Luckily by today my leg is feeling much better.  I decide tomorrow is the day I get back out and about.  I am not going to go far, I may revisit my first ever walk around the field in front of the house, and see how I get on.  But to be sure tomorrow I will walk.

It has given me time to reflect on how habits are made.  Once my habit was to sit and surf the net, playing on social media and eating.  Now, my habit is walking in the real world, eating healthily and feeling alive.

There is no better way to start my day, this I know, than being out in the air, looking at the world from within the frame, in the moment, and tomorrow I will be back.

a million steps later – challenge done

at three minutes past three on the 8th September, just a week ago today, on the High Peak Trail, the woman who never walked anywhere took her millionth step!! In just over nine weeks I walked 500 miles.
I have walked in the town, the woods, the hills, the dales. I have walked in cities and alongside canals. I have walked along the coast and on the beach.  It has been nothing short of amazing. As I walked I became fitter, as I became fitter I walked more.

So, I wonder what next?  First I enjoyed basking in the glory of completing such an epic challenge in such a short time.  My sponsorship for Diabetes UK has increased too, with a neighbour donating money having seen me on my daily walks for the past nine weeks.  I think before I start planning what to do next it is worth taking a moment to reflect on what has happened.

Back in April I was unwell, overweight and unhappy. I found movement painful and spent a lot of time pushing myself through the pain to take part in the most basic everyday things.  One day I really had, had enough.  I decided to try and eat less and move more.  If you have been with me through the blog you will know all this already, but what I didn’t know was how this simple plan, move more eat less would change everything.

Today I am three and a half stone lighter than I was in April.  I have energy and a lust for life I previously only dreamt about.  My car sits outside my house most days, only being used for trips out of town.  I have started a Facebook Group called Women Walking, and have dozens of members encouraging each other to take that first step.  It is simply amazing.

The next challenge is to keep up the fitness.  I have joined a gym!!  Honestly that is amazing in itself, and have learned how much fun moving to music is.  I have started swimming again and exercising in the pool is also great fun.  I still walk every morning mostly with my good friend who is now also walking every day.  All in all the Diabetes UK Million Step Challenge has effected every part of my life.  It has given me my body back, it has given me confidence and it has helped me to inspire lots of other friends to walk for health.  Truly if I can do this anyone can.  I really was the woman who never walked anywhere who now walks everywhere.

I can’t thank the guys at Diabetes UK enough, their support and encouragement meant everything.  I don’t want to kid people that this was easy.  I had dark days, I walked in the rain and the wind, I walked with blisters on my feet and when I was feeling so tired I just wanted to stay in bed.  The reason I carried on was knowing that people were sponsoring me and I had the responsibility to carry on.

The good days outweighed the bad.  I have so many memories. Reaching the top of the Great Orme in hot sunshine was amazing. Starting to run instead of walking and managing to breathe as I ran along was fantastic.

This has been the challenge of my life, and it is no exaggeration to say it has changed me for the good forever.



811,000 reasons to be cheerful

wow!!  sometime this week the woman who never walked anywhere passed the 800,000 step mark.  I cannot quite believe it.  Indeed if you count my practice walking in June I am already well over a million steps.

Some steps have been tentative, some strong.  I have walked in the rain, in the hail, in the sunshine and in the cloud.  I have walked early in the morning and late into the evening.  I have walked in fields and in cities.  Every step moving me nearer to fitness and to improved health.  The benefits are endless.

Firstly I have lots considerable weight, I am about three and a bit stone lighter than I was in May.  I have new clothes and have been able to pass on my good but now too big tops and bottoms to friends.  I am no longer breathless.  I can do up my shoes and I can walk up hills.  I can run.  I can get down on the floor with my darling girl and play trains. I no longer feel ashamed of my body.

Walking??  Who knew??  True I have also been careful with what I am eating, but the daily and consistent exercise is the thing that matters.  The folks at Diabetes UK are genius, creating such a long term challenge.

I know I will be passing the million steps for real sometime soon, so I am planning my next adventure.  This is not going to stop anytime soon.

If you are reading this and thinking you couldn’t do it, yes you could.  It is as simple as putting one foot in front of another.  It isn’t a race, go at your own pace, any movement is better than none.

Go on, I dare you, give it a go.


million steps – day forty three

luckily everything was better today.  I was feeling much better and the weather was fine.  A complete transformation from yesterday when the cold wind and rain made walking difficult.  Today the sun was shining as I planned how to fit walking with all the things I needed to do this morning.

It didn’t help that I awoke later than usual, so I decided to take my car to the supermarket and then leave it in the car park while I walked.  That way I could do the shopping before going home.  This meant a walk along a busy road, not something I usually enjoy, but I soon reached the quieter streets where there is very little traffic noise.

The sun was casting my shadow in front of me as I walked and I was enjoying the warmth on my back.  Suddenly another shadow appeared next to mine.  I slowed down to let the person pass but instead they fell into step with me.  ‘I thought that was you, Mother’  said my lovely son.  He explained that he couldn’t be sure it was me as I have changed shape so much, but he knew he had me right when he saw me checking my pedometer.  It was a lovely surprise to see him.  I have three sons and he is the one I see the least of.  We walked together along the street chatting.  I wondered where he was going but he said he was going where I was going, so I spent a happy half hour with my boy as the steps disappeared beneath our feet.

Being a Mum has always been an adventure.  From the baby days, through toddle tantrums to teenage angst, all four of my children have had their moments.  I think sometimes it is only when they are adult do we Mums realise what an adventure it really was.  The days when I knew exactly where they were and who they were with have long gone. It is lovely now they are all grown up we spend snatched moments together.  I am so proud of them all, and it seems they are equally proud of me.

This lucky woman added almost 12,000 steps to her total today, most of it in sunshine.

million steps – days thirty nine to forty two

This has been a rubbish week for me health wise.  It started on Monday night, after our lovely day thirty nine, with me getting a really bad stomach ache, which hasn’t really gone away since.  I have been checked out, all is well, I just feel a bit poorly.  So with no walking at all one day and very little yesterday, this morning I had to have a go.

The weather was against me.  Cold wind and driving rain, not your average August morning, made for tricky walking. Together with a sore tummy it was doing me no good at all.  I pressed on, once out I felt ok, but tired really quickly. For once I took the swift route home and I didn’t walk around the field.  I dried off and got changed and was already feeling better.  Quite proud I made it out to walk at all really, I have to remember that this isn’t a race, and the million steps are going to be walked, one way or another I will succeed.

Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day, both weather and health will have improved.  Tonight my sorry total is just under 10,000 steps but it is the best I can do.

million steps – day thirty nine – family fun

Today started with a drizzling walk with my best friend.  As we moved through the town, getting ever more damp, we chatted about all the things that need to be talked about.  Family, work, life, there is something wonderful about such a friendship.

We walked into the park and made our away towards the lake.  The playground was empty, as was the adult gym equipment.  Dare we?  We did!!  It was such fun, swinging and stretching on the different pieces of kit, there was a freedom of movement and we just had fun.  I am sure anyone watching would have laughed at us as we got to grips with it all, but we didn’t care.  It was fab.

Later we have a very special date with our gorgeous Granddaughter, who will have her second birthday this week. Nothing prepared me for the sheer joy of being a Nanna, and the day she was born I found myself accepting this role with ease it was the beginning of such a lovely time.  She is a special little girl who can make me happy on the darkest day.  It was lovely to spend the day with her and her Mum and Dad, and her Grandma.  So many people who love her.  In the last two years of laughter and love, we have all watched her grow from a babe in arms to the clever funny little girl we have today.

We set off in convoy to a beautiful house, gardens and children’s farmyard.  The animals, from day old chicks to enormous Shire horses were all in view.  We wandered around together enjoying the experience, and I was put in mind of the days out I had when her Daddy was little, the places we went and the fun we had.

It was absolutely fantastic for me not to have to worry about not keeping up with everyone, or if I would need to sit down.  For once I felt totally at ease, wandering through the gardens, the farmyard and the maze.  My ‘new’ legs are working well.  The rain held off and we were warm and dry in the hazy afternoon sunshine.

Together with my morning walk, and a trip to town later I managed over 22,000 steps today, each one full of fun.



million Steps – day 36 – ups and downs


Today finds me once again in the Welsh hills and it is a warm and sunny morning.  Walking along the sea front I am regretting wearing my leggings, it is far too warm.  I love the sea, but today there is no wind and for once the three mile walk is too hot to be comfortable.

Back at base and hubby is up and about.  We chat about how to spend the rest of the day.  Perhaps another walk?  There are some new circular routes I want to try, but hubby is not convinced.  I suggest the Great Orme, and he says this is a great idea.

For those not familiar with the North Wales landscape the Great and Little Ormes  are hills that sit opposite each other either side of the bay at Llandudno.  The Great Orme being the biggest has a railway and cable cars to take you to the summit.  We decided to try and walk up there.

We walk up a passageway and at the top there is a choice of which way to walk.  We plump for the Invalids Walk, surely that won’t be too difficult.  It isn’t at all but we seem to be walking away from the summit.  We find a path heading up but after a short while we abandon it, the steep drops and uneven ground are not for me.

Heading back we pick up the road and head uphill.  To say the road is steep is not doing it justice.  It is very, very steep.  It is still warm and sunny and soon we are very hot indeed.  We pause for breath and talk about giving up, walking back down to the sea front and getting an ice cream perhaps.  Hubby and I are more determined than that and begin to climb again.  Steeper and steeper, this is not an easy walk, and yet when we pause to look behind up the view is amazing.  Encouraged we continue.  Eventually the road flattens out and we follow grassy paths up towards the top.  By now we are feeling a little bit full of ourselves and are looking on those driving to the top with disdain.

Another couple of stops, this time for photos, not to get our breath back, and we are at the summit.  The views from here are stunning, we can see for miles and miles.  We stop to purchase our ice cream and sit enjoying the view.  How quickly we have forgotten the strain of those first hills, how good do we feel? this is a real achievement.  I am reminded of how life used to be.  When I wouldn’t dare walk far at all as the pains in my joints could at times seize up completely.  Now here I am walking up the Great Orme!!

Ice cream and self-congratulations finished we set off around the summit and begin to climb down. The view on the other side is of a vast expanse of the Irish Sea, and below us we can see the remains of an ancient village on the side of the hill.  I begin to wonder about the families that lived here, it must have been a hard life.

As we wend our way down the grassy paths, we are in great spirits.  Tired, obviously, but buoyed by our determination not to give up and our success on reaching the top.  I find downhill hard on my knees but with my hubby to hold my hand anything is possible.

It makes me think of the life we have built together, how we have faced really tricky times, times when it would have been so easy to give up, and yet we didn’t.  Together we made it through.  In fact life has been just like our walk today.  Times when progress was slow, when we needed to stop and breathe, to make decisions, do we carry on or change our route? Times when I was too tired and sore to move, and times when the sun has been on our backs and life is good.

It seems to me that we are not only defined by what we achieve, but we also defined by what we try to achieve, and what we learn along the way.

Eventually we are back in town and we decide to treat ourselves to fish and chips. As we sit in the late afternoon sunshine, we decide that this has been a wonderful day.  I am once again thankful to Diabetes UK for giving me the motivation to move, and to my hubby for always walking by my side throughout all our ups and downs.

Today I added over 21,000 steps to my total, the million is firmly in sight. Tomorrow I may rest awhile.

Million steps – day thirty four

A lovely long walk this morning, through the town and out onto country lanes, it makes a difference walking with a friend.  As we walk we are chatting and stopping every now and again to look at the views.

I am so lucky to live somewhere where the countryside is so accessible.  From my front door within a mile I am in the middle of fields and hedgerows.  We see rabbits scampering across the field and in the distance are sheep and cattle.

Today the weather was kind, warm and bright sunshine lifted the spirits and the mood.  It is easier to walk with the sun on your back, although it did get a little warm.  I left my friend near her home and carried on for a mile or so homeward bound.

This early morning world really suits me, I arrive home ready for breakfast and have more energy than ever.  Today mundane jobs in the house are calling and I spend longer than I would have liked on housework.  It is always good to remember that, perhaps, three months ago I couldn’t do much at all.  Now cleaning and sorting is all in a days work. I couldn’t be more grateful.

Another reason to be grateful today is that I have another sponsor on my fundraising page.  This brings the total to more than double the total I set for myself.  It is wonderful and all thanks to Diabetes UK.