It started with a trundl...
How walking transformed a trundl member’s outlook on health, exercise & mental wellbeing
I am intrinsically lazy. Honestly, trust me, I am. So obviously I am the right person to write a blog about walking. Now, in case you are still doubting my laziness, let me tell you a little about myself. I live near Brighton and would regularly go into the city centre for shopping. I would park in Car Park A and do any shopping I needed in that part of town and then get back into my car and drive to Car Park B to go to the shops in that area. The distance between these two car parks is 0.3 miles. What separated them was a slight hill, which I would avoid walking up at all times.
So now that I have convinced you of my previous abhorrence to any form of exercise I shall continue. In August 2017, about two weeks shy of turning 51, I had a blood test to see if I was perimenopausal (I was) but I was also morbidly obese and, for the first time, pre-diabetic. This turned out to be the kick up the (well upholstered) posterior that was required to get me off my couch. My next door neighbour is a fitness instructor so I enlisted her help. And do you know what we started with? A walk. Twice a week we would walk down to the little park round the corner from us and trundle round the miniature football pitch. Now I will make no secret of the fact that she then started adding in additional exercises and that we have built on this further over the years, but walking is a huge part of my overall exercise regime and is certainly the most enjoyable part.
What was really key for me was to just go at my own pace. When you’ve spent years avoiding any form of exercise it can be scary to even try. So walking allows you to just do what you feel comfortable with. I live at the top of a fairly steep hill, far steeper than the one that separates the car parks, and it was my nemesis. So initially I would avoid it and just stick to driving to a local park or the seafront and walking there. I began to get a little more confident and, as I started to improve my fitness, I would add in a small hill. But what I also began to notice was that it wasn’t just my physical appearance that was changing, but my mental health. Getting out into the fresh air was doing me so much good mentally. As I walked, I had time to think and to address some of the issues that had led to my obesity. Instead of always thinking “you can’t do that” I began to say, ‘I’ll try’. So instead of seeing the hill as my nemesis I saw it as a challenge I knew I could overcome. When the weather was good, I would strap on my trusty rucksack and walk down the hill to the supermarket and then back up the hill. Initially I would have to stop and catch my breath, but it gradually got easier and I felt such a sense of achievement the first time I walked all the way back without having to stop. It’s a round trip of about three miles but I would make it a few times a week. It also meant I wasn’t using my car for such a short trip so win/win.
I want to stress that my aim here isn’t to give people advice on losing weight, because I firmly believe anyone who wishes to address their weight has to find what works for them. But the sense of achievement going for a trundle has given me cannot be underestimated. The impact on my physical health has been incredible, I reversed my pre-diabetic status within a year and, to date, have lost just under eight stone.
But the impact on my mental health has been just as important, particularly during the Covid-19 lockdowns. To my shame, despite having lived here for about 20 years, it took the first lockdown for me to discover that there is an access point to the South Downs National Park further along my road. So, within 10 minutes of leaving my front door I can be out there exploring the glorious Sussex countryside, more of which next time. Until then, Happy Trundling!