A gluttonous Christmas. A hedonistic holiday. The promise of peace through indulgence. Yet, the only things I gained were extra weight and discomfort. In the absence of alcohol, chocolate reigned supreme. That joy-full kick as the sugar turns to serotonin. The promise of happiness dissolves and administering another hit seems like the only option. I am an addict through and through.
But after Christmas, I was left feeling uncomfortable. I was feeling down and the question, is gluttony worth it? swirled around my head. No, probably not. This is why there is an obesity crisis because trying to break a habit is difficult. A friends father was telling me how he had cut out bread and fast food. Taken up walking and lost 5st (32 kg). By cutting back on shite food and walking 5 miles a day he dropped this weight. He was feeling fitter and healthier. Not bad going for someone in their sixties. It is never too late to make a lifestyle change. So with this in mind, I wondered if I could walk off my Christmas weight?
On new years day, I weighed 13st 2lbs (83.8kg). The weight I am comfortable at is 12st6lbs (80kg). So through a period of overindulgence for about a month, I managed to put on 8lbs. No wonder I felt rough. But that is all it took for months of a healthy diet to become worthless. One month of overindulgence. There is a feeling that comes from eating crap food. Of slowness and a lack of energy. Discomfort even. I wanted to get back to a feeling of wellness. Or as well as I could be. I decided that sugar was the main cause of this feeling. So I opted to cut sweets, biscuits and chocolate out of my diet. No fizzy drinks. Nothing with an abundance of sugar. I ate what I normally would eat; toast or porridge for breakfast, a lunch (usually the second half of a hello fresh meal I had the night before) and then dinner (either hello fresh or meat with roast potatoes and veg). I drank plenty of tea and water.
I’ve been relatively fit for a while. Since losing a lot of weight previously which I’ve written about here(https://fromthebarstooltothebeach.com/2019/07/13/my-sobriety-health-and-well-being-toolbox/). So walking 5 – 10 miles is quite normal. But when I first started out I had to build up to it. People think walking 10 miles isn’t far but when you are five miles away from your door and you realise you have to walk back it can be quite daunting. So test yourself, to begin with. Small distances. Then build up, until it becomes normal.
The reason I cut out sugar, is to create a calorie deficit. Walking 5 miles can burn up to 500 calories depending on different factors such as weight. Burning 500 calories less than you eat a day will lose about 1lb in weight a week. But in a healthy balanced way. Crash diets work… for a short time. Many diet programs are designed for repeat business. A change in lifestyle that promotes a healthy balance is my choice. But a lot of people will say “I haven’t got time to go walking!!” but then spend three hours sitting on their arse watching crap on TV. It’s about choices. A walk will do far more for reducing stress and promoting wellbeing than watching the TV (https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/features/how-walking-in-nature-can-help-wellbeing). Exercise is just a habit. Fighting through the inner voice that says “No stay here. I can go tomorrow!” Is part of the process. It is changing one bad habit for another healthy habit. The introduction of a walk into a weekly routine can make a big difference. But only with the right diet. Burning 300 calories by walking isn’t then an extra 300 calories that can be consumed. It isn’t credit.
I have to make time for walking. It keeps more than my weight in check. It keeps my mind in check. Whether listening to a podcast or walking with my own thoughts, it is my way of dealing with life. Even in the chaos of city life, I used to find a walking route through a park or near water. I had to. It is innate. It is something inside that demands that environment. I get overstimulated by chaos. Eventually, I get burned out. As a result, I look for ways to elevate my mood, usually bad food. But it is only a short term solution and the anxiety soon returns. Walking allows me to slow my life down and embrace the moment. The other day, the storm whipped up the waves and I sat and listened to them crashing down on the shore. Boredom for many. Therapy to me.
I spent years looking for happiness. I sought escape from myself through overindulgence and egoic pursuits but was often left wanting. I was frustrated by the promises of happiness only to return to my dis-ease. Running on the hedonic treadmill is a fruitless journey. Walking through the peace of nature is a reminder that most things are out of my control. The things I try and control often go wrong. Nature just happens. The waves just happen. Life just happens. If I remember to keep putting one foot in front of the other I will always move forwards, regardless of setbacks.
Walking doesn’t just shift the excess baggage around the midriff. It allows a moment of peace to shift the excess baggage around the shoulders also. To compartmentalise the problems of the world and enjoy the moment. As the old saying goes “Healthy body, healthy mind!” Walking cultivates both simultaneously.
By the end of the month, I had returned to my desired weight. I’d lost 6lbs (3kg). By cutting out shit food, having a healthy calorie deficit and walking a few times a week I lost all the Christmas weight. So walking the weight off is possible.
So try it. Who knows it might set you on a path you never had believed you could walk down.
Thanks for reading,