When I first moved to Juneau as a Jesuit Volunteer in 1978, my housemates and I would go for hikes on the trails around the area. There are so many trails here that there is a book entitled: "90 Short Walks Around Juneau". That's a lot of choices for places to hike.
We would go on hikes up Mt. Roberts or Spaulding Meadows or Last Chance Basin and I would be several yards behind my fellow hikers. They would stop and wait for me periodically, until it got embarrassing.
The problem was that I have short legs, and have never been in great shape (although when I moved to Juneau as a 22 year old, I had been running every day for a year and weighed 98 pounds - this, however, didn't make my legs any longer).
So I began to stay home because I thought I was slowing everyone down. I would bake cookies and cinnamon rolls for them to enjoy on their return. I got out of the habit of walking on the trails which were all around us.
For years, my kids would say: "Why don't you want to go for a hike? You never go for walks on the trails!" and I would reply that I didn't like hiking. And I didn't because, in my mind, it involved climbing hills (not to mention that I am afraid of bears).
Then, a couple of months ago, I went to the doctor, who informed me that I am overweight (not just overweight, but that if I lost 30 pounds, I would still be obese). Her prescription was a strict diet (I mean, "Lifestyle Change"), nutritional supplements and an exercise program.
I burst into tears in her office because I was imagining a yawning abyss with no chocolate in it.
When I calmed down, she explained that I could start slow, just being aware of what I was eating and how much I was moving. She was pretty firm about walking at least a half hour a day, however.
I thought: "Well, I can walk for a half an hour a day". So, while I was resistant about the eating part, I embraced the nutritional supplements and half hour walk. Even without strictly following the diet (I mean "Lifestyle Change"), I lost five pounds in two weeks. I've slowly continued to lose weight.
I still have more chins than the Hong Kong phone directory, but my clothes are a bit looser and I feel a bit stronger. I have also learned that I like walking on the local trails. Not the ones that are uphill, but the ones that are pretty flat, like the Treadwell Historical Trail, the Auke Lake Trail, the Brotherhood Bridge Trail and the Gold Creek Flume.
Miguel and I went for a walk on the Flume yesterday, and we had such a nice time! The pictures in this post are from that lovely walk with my son. (When he saw me taking pictures of the trail and of the flowers in a beautiful gardens on the way to the trail head, he asked me if I was going to put them on my blog. "Yup!", I said. He rolled his eyes, but held my camera case for me.)
The lesson from all this is that walking in the woods is good for the body and good for the soul. And, in my case, because my nineteen year old son (who is moving across the country soon for his second year of college) asked me to go for a walk with him, it was good for my heart.
I linked this post to At The Picket Fence Inspiration Friday