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GUEST POST: Every Journey Starts with a First Step by Vicky Duran

The one thing you learn is when you can step out of your comfort zone and be uncomfortable, you see what you’re made of and who you are.

Sue Bird

Walking heals anywhere including on a treadmill

I met Vicky Duran at a rehearsal for the Greater Twin Cities Youth Orchestra. I was narrating a new piece and her daughter, Charity, was playing violin. We hit it off immediately, sharing a love for her beautiful home state, Washington, as well as how the simple act of lacing up our shoes and taking a walk with intention can change our lives.

There’s something to be said about personal body image and the fear of losing it. 

Hi, my name is Vicky Duran and I’m 52 years old. I was a more athletic person than not in my younger days; basketball, racquetball, skiing, softball; you could find me in the middle of any of these games. I rode horses, wrangled kids, bucked bails of hay in my teenage years, and did a lot of swimming in college.

Then I married and started a family. I taught in the classroom for a few years before turning my sights to homeschooling and shuttling kids around to their various activities. Slowly age and inactivity took a toll on my body and how I saw myself.

There’s something to be said about personal body image and the fear of losing it. 

Daily exercise was not role modeled to me when I was a kid, so I didn’t have a strong tendency towards routine daily workouts. Late night snacks kept me awake as I graded homework and planned lessons.

It was harder and harder to see my softening image in the mirror, and the need to buy a larger pair of jeans or shirt was embarrassing. I wavered between, “Vicky, you are in your 50’s, accept it.” and “This is horrible, I need to start working out.” I found solace in a friend whom I discovered was having the same thoughts. She, in Wisconsin, and I in Minnesota, took comfort in knowing we weren’t alone in our feelings. 

But still I did nothing.

One morning, this past March I had enough. I was tired of dragging myself up the stairs of our house. I was tired of huffing and puffing around the Mall of America. 

I was tired. 

I got onto my long-neglected tread mill and began walking. That first day, I managed a mile with felt great success!

This time I knew I had to approach my weight loss journey differently then my past feeble attempts.

  • This is a lifestyle change. Each and every day for the rest of my life I have to commit to getting on that tread mill and grind out the time, miles and sweat.  The best way for me to work up the courage and desire to walk and sweat is to take that time to read and listen to my Holy Scriptures while I exercise.
  • I have to change my diet accordingly. I cut back (for life) on the sweets and dairy products. I’m already a vegetarian, but I could do better in my diet. The hardest for me and what I have had the least success is the late-night eating. I’ve changed from chips to fruit, but I haven’t been able to break myself of eating while I work at my desk.
  • I am role modeling exercise behavior to my children. My son, now twenty, is soft around the edges. He is a lifeguard and an EMT so must keep in shape. I made it point to never push my changes on to the rest of my family. Just this week he obtained a gym membership so he, too, can get into shape. My daughter is in martial arts and has recently expressed an interest in toning up. 

(Daily walking) is a lifestyle change.

A former student of mine attempted to qualify for the Boston Marathon last year and failed.  She made changes to her exercise regime, created more realistic goals and went for it again. Last week, she qualified. I am so proud of her! 

Now it’s time for me to step up my game. I have been working on the new me for ten months. I can push myself a little further, a little faster, a little longer now than the past several months. But more important, I accept myself even if I never get rid of that middle-age woman look, I accept who I am, what I look like and the aches and pains that come with exercise. 

I am so grateful for Alison and others who share their journeys on social media. Their stories of success and yes, setbacks, too, motivate me and encourage me even if I don’t make a goal one day, reevaluate, reset and go for it again. 

Because, in the long run, it is all good.

4 Responses

  1. Your story casts my mind back many years to being determined to improve fitness and lose weight. I took the first steps to running to the end of the street in my village in the UK, all of 80 yards. Those yards left me in distress, unable to breathe, the idea of another run incomprehensible. By the end of one month a mile was possible, after several years so were ultra marathons; subsequently completing my first thru hike, the John Muir Trail, the trail I on which I first met Alison. You have started absolutely the right way, Vicky. You need and you have a goal in mind. Take those legs outside when the weather permits and it will no longer be a grind, get a fan and the treadmill will become bearable. And what it does for ones well being – I have often set out for a run angry with the world, I have never returned from one being so (yes, even with Brexit!) . And calories in versus all those extra calories out will permit evening snacks. Good luck, it is your story that motivates us, and, as you folks say over there, “Way to go!”

    1. When I first started a year ago, 1 mile in a half hour at 2 or 2.5 mph was a success. This morning I jogged 1.1 miles in 15 minutes at 4.5 mph.
      I have a goal to do 2 miles on the treadmill, 10 miles on my bike and 2km swimming in the pool in one day.

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