You might not realise this from my writing, but I’m an extreme introvert. I am happiest when I have at least 4-6 personal hours of space, if not more in a day (not including sleep time) where I am doing my own thing. I’m far more productive when I am left to my own devices to work most days.
As my health was starting to increase, I was hoping to walk further and enjoy becoming a bit more social. Thankfully, I found someone who was within walking distance who was not only one of the coolest humans I’ve ever been fortunate enough to meet, but she owns her own comic book shop (also within walking distance of my apartment in Staten Island, NY). Check out the shop on Facebook and on Instagram and online! — SUPREME GEEK AWESOMENESS ALERT!!
Okay, back to my TBT story:
Just keep walking.
I wore crocs for over eight years. I have NEVER liked the feel of shoes on my feet. I used to live on the outskirts of a small town that had a single flashing yield light as the only “slow down” warning in the entire place.
The road I grew up on was gravel, and I could run on that with no worries in bare feet up and down and through brush and into a farmer’s field and through the quarry and down the overgrown train tracks… I miss the days where I could walk all over and not get winded or worried or worn out.
I want to impart something that has been glossed over so far – but I think is important to mention during all of this. I will be laughed at.
I am okay with that too. I got a set of Birks, and tried to break them in and ended up with hideously horribly painful blisters. Well, blisterception to be exact, as I only had a pair of crocs and those to wear. But I needed to go out and walk. So I did what I could, in order to do what I needed to. I put my socks on (of course they were mismatched… do you think I’m insane? I can’t wear matching socks! *gasps dramatically*), and then my sandals, and I went out for a walk.
Every step I took, I was planning my defense. “Yes, I know it’s a fashion ‘crime’, but I have blisters!” or “Who died and made you Fashion Police?” and on and on and I was so worried about how everyone would react to the fact that I had socks on in my sandals, that I neglected to just realise that no one cared, and no one commented. Sure, people walked past me, and sure, they saw the socks in the sandals. But the reality was, I had created this entire platform of defense based off of something that in over three weeks didn’t occur even once.
Meanwhile, I had come to the conclusion that I had to do one thing and one thing only: just keep walking. It wasn’t about being popular, or how I was dressed. It’s not about how others may perceive me or what they assume about me.
This whole time, one phrase has replaced the others in my head. Things are better now, and rightfully so, so that has taken the quieter back row chanting area. “Ten more steps.” Just ten.
If I need to take a break, I give myself permission to do that in ten more steps. Easy. One. Two. Bah, it’s only another few… Three. Four. Don’t quit now! Five. See? Over half way there! Six. Seven. Breathe in and out. Eight. Nine. Come on; you can do it, Sera. Ten.
Once I get to ten, I reassess. If I need to stop, I allow it. If I can make ten more, than woohoo for me, I just did twenty steps that I didn’t think I could do. Small victory, but let me explain the depth of that.
If you’re sitting on your couch, bed, chair, etc. and haven’t moved today, or hardly at all, please do it now. Don’t do it for me. Do it because you want to start this process of taking control of your life.
I know what it’s like to not move. Days would go by that I would barely move other than to use the washroom once or twice – not eating has that affect on a digestive process, and there was little to do for vanquishing fluids that didn’t exist.
Those ten steps, whether taken before, during, or after you read this are the start of your journey. Where does your adventure lead you? Sometimes the future is too much to plan for; whatever our current burden is, situation, problem… just make it ten steps. If that’s too much, start with one. Work your way up.
When I first got here to Staten Island, my level of fitness was… well to say I even had a level of fitness is wrong. If I had to place it on a numerical scale, I’d guess it was somewhere around a negative 81 or potentially lower than that even. Let’s just say I was at “Anti-Fitness Level”.
I’m going to admit to you something that is incredibly personal and quite honestly, very shameful for me, but I want to explain this, because it will put into perspective WHY I am working so hard now, and WHY I am so dedicated to ensuring that what I’m about to explain never becomes reality again. To give you a bit of hope as well.
**I had created some crazy levels of unhealthiness for myself in the years leading up to the last few months of 2014. September and October’s alone were so damaging, two years later, I’m still feeling the effects of those isolation months, so by the end of November, I was barely able to walk at all. December was even worse. January of 2015 was one of the worst physical months of my entire life, not withstanding medical situations outside of my control.
Leaving my room at a Hostel I was living at (I was homeless again, and was living there from November to April), walking down the hallway, up twelve stairs, and less than a dozen more to the first available spot to stop was cause for me to be out of breath. Seriously out of breath. My last day in that room, I counted that walk for the last time. Forty steps was all I could manage before I needed a break. Forty. I couldn’t even manage ten more steps in November, let alone April. You think I’m being dramatic, don’t you?
I would have to stop at that chair (forty paces) for a good two to five minutes sometimes to just get myself breathing semi-normally again. Less than 10 paces further would have put me at the comfiest couch I’ve ever sat on, instead of that hard, old, straight back wooden chair of sadness. I couldn’t even move for comfort.
I was able to stand for about five minutes at a time before the “sit sit sit sit, you’re gonna collapse!” sensation would kick in. It sucked for me trying to prepare meals, because so much of it was spent doing things like standing to chop healthy vegetables and mix things and… well, when you can only stand for a max of five minutes, that’s including going to and from a chair, you make exceptions to how you prepare meals, and you don’t buy groceries based on health, but rather convenience. On average now, I can stand for an hour and a half straight without even giving it a second thought.
I’m nowhere near healthy, but I’m well on my way. I may have done permanent damage to myself though in those “hibernation” months. Only time will tell. Hopefully soon enough, I’ll be getting a health check-up as well, and that can alleviate some of the worry and continued stress about lingering effects of what I did when I didn’t move. My sincerest hope is that I haven’t done irreparable damage or harm. If I have, I hope it’s something I can live with.
So what do those ten steps mean to me now?
It forces me to just keep walking.
That’s the trick. Convincing myself that death is not going to happen within the next ten steps, but they can be ten steps that save my life.
This ‘moving thing’ sucks. Oh wow, does it ever. I just want to sit and watch netflix and cuddle the cats and not think about doing anything beneficial in a day. After such a long hibernation, the level of suckage is immense. In those initial days of movement, when you’re just learning how to find your feet again and walk, the only thing that gives you any comfort is knowing that you have an end goal. Call it the reward of finishing if it helps. It did for me.
My first few days (and weeks) of walks were horrendously stippled with pauses and stops. Don’t get me wrong; I still stop for water breaks, but they are much further apart now. There is a hill from the Staten Island Ferry up to our street that is my current nemesis. I am bent on its defeat. I am laughing at myself for the fact that I’m saying “I had to walk uphill home from the store…” to everyone, even though it’s the truth.
As with all good versus evil story lines, there must be a victor. I will be the one who bests that hill. Each day is a little bit better.
I refuse to let the echoes of my yesterday dictate the course of action for my tomorrow. What does that mean? Simply that just because I got away with inaction before, doesn’t mean that I can afford to do that in the future.
Change isn’t easy, but I can tell you it is so much more beneficial in the long run to start now. Just making the decision that you want to change your life is monumental, because you’ve realised that there is a negative pattern you (finally) want to break.
I found there is a level of curiosity that I have surrounding this healthy lifestyle change as well. What will tomorrow bring? How far can I walk today? When will I see any, let alone significant changes to my thinking, sleeping, breathing, distance walked, moods………….?
I like the unknown element to things, as it means there is something new and exciting awaiting me around the next corner. It delights me to see how far I’ve already come, and when I’m over halfway home, that excitement changes to a rush of giddiness. Maybe it’s because I’ll be able to sit again soon, or the fact that I have done so well; maybe it’s a combination of the two ideas. They don’t have to be opposed. I can be happy to be near a fan and proud of myself at the same time.
Ten simple steps that I wasn’t even able to muster before. I remind myself of those ten steps every time I am out for a walk. Do them for the hibernating girl. Do them for the lazypixie. Do them to spite the depression. Ten more steps is ten steps further away from that horrible mindset. Ten more steps, and you can smile, knowing you did, just ten more steps. And then do ten more.
Basically, if you’re looking for inspiration, or someone to tell you to get off your ass, then here’s your sign. Please, sweet dear reader, get up. Take ten steps. Not for me. Do it for your tomorrow.