The Long Walk’ back to healthier habits

The title of this column is borrowed from that of a Stephen King dystopian novel, one of an alternate America where there’s an annual race called “The Long Walk.” The winner of that physically and mentally-grueling race would get anything they wanted for the rest of their lives. The losers not only lost the race, but also their lives.

Whereas King’s novel (written under the pseudonym Richard Bachman) sounds scary and sinister, I’m engaging in a long walk of my own. This one has healthy intentions. There’s nothing macabre about it.

Why all the walking?

A January visit to the hospital and a subsequent checkup by my doctor revealed to me something startling: the health problems that put me into the hospital could return unless I lose weight.

After hearing this, I realized that after almost 15 years of being overweight, it was time to stop tempting fate and return to being healthy. Checkups in recent years have revealed that my heart and arteries are in great condition, and I recently learned that I have neither high blood pressure nor diabetes (although I probably sometimes cause high blood pressure for my editor and other people).

One cousin of mine lost a lot of weight about 10 years ago after having heart bypass surgery. I’d rather not wait until that magnitude of health crisis to start taking care of myself.

Besides cutting back on what I eat, drinking a lot of water, avoiding excessive fats and sugars, I also am doing a lot of walking.

A few weeks before my health scare, I picked up maps of the Volkssport Walk 2013 that had just been in town. One map was for a 5K walk (about three miles), and the other was for 10K (about six).

Why not try those routes? I thought.

When I first began this trek, walking a mile seemed tiring. My back and left hip both felt like they were on fire. They both felt that way after a few hours of helping to get the newspaper packed up on Wednesdays.

Now, nearly three months later and 20 pounds lighter, the pain is minimal; walking four miles is easy. The back and hip pain, both for walking and for newspaper packing, are almost non-existent.

For the rest of this column, read this week’s print and online editions of the Fredericksburg Standard-Radio Post. If you are a print subscriber, your full online subscription is free. All you need to do is call 830-997-2155 to get a password. If you are not a subscriber, call 997-2155 or click on the ‘Subscribe’ button on the left side of the home page and sign up today!

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