3 Critical Questions to Ask About Your Workout

One of my goals in founding the One Million Women Walking movement was to develop an actionable tool to help you create health and wellness in your own life in your own way. I knew that I wanted to provide a method that was simple, doable, scientifically proven and highly effective. Why? Well you see . . .

So many women I’ve spoken with said they simply didn’t have the time to add anything complicated or time consuming to their lives—no matter how beneficial it might be. Great feedback! So I kept the 1MWW 3-Step Practice simple, understandable, and immediate by creating a health and wellness plan that you can start right now to benefit your health right now, regardless of your lifestyle or life-stage or how crazy busy your life might be.

We all need little victories and 1MWW is all about daily little victories. Because little daily victories add up to big life-changing results.

The mission of 1MWW is to inspire and empower women to transform their lives by simply walking. Daily walking saved my life (that was my big inspiration) and as I was going through the process of founding 1MWW, building the website, starting social media, I began comparing the ease and effectiveness of walking with other workouts. That led me to some core questions, which I want to share with you now: 3 Critical Questions to Ask About Your Workout.

  1. Does this fit for me? Does my workout fit my lifestyle and Lifestage or does it add one more thing to my To Do list that I ultimately end up resenting and feeling frustrated about?

  2. Does this make me feel better about myself? Does my workout really lift me up in a way that makes me grateful to be doing it?

  3. Does this truly support and expand my whole Self—my body, my mind, and my spirit? Does this workout give me a sense of being more whole, more in tune, more ME?

These might look like simple questions but there’s a profound truth behind them. The truth being that despite your best intentions or your doctor’s warnings or your own fears about your health, you won’t be able to fall in love with a workout that adds to your To Do List, makes you feel worse about yourself, or leaves you feeling fragmented and confused.

I want you to fall in love with your workout and with the YOU that does that workout. I believe you deserve a way to care for yourSelf (body, mind, and spirit) deeply and meaningfully every day. A Self-care practice that fits into your life starting right now, makes you feel really good about yourSelf, and gives you a sense of being on the wonderful, fulfilling journey of becoming the YOU you want to be.

So if you’re not satisfied with your current workout or exercise practice, ask these 3 Critical Questions and listen for your answers. You’ll discover if your self-care is lacking, is frustrating, is shaming or is perfect. My wish your you is that you find the perfect workout and that it elevates your whole Self and that you fall deeply and profoundly in love with it. And that it loves you back, big time!

Tidings of Comfort and Joy!

The Holidays can be an incredibly beautiful, wonderful, joyful time and they can be an incredibly stressful, awful, heart-breaking time. Dickens comes to mind, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

For many of us, the Holidays are a mix of good and bad, happy and sad, stressful and peaceful. So to even things out, I’ve created a series of Facebook videos, Tidings of Comfort and Joy, which have quick tips on how to lower your stress, take care of yourSelf (body, mind, and spirit) and take care of your endless To Do List.

Research reveals that a whopping 69% of us are stressed at the holidays about not having enough time. And 69% of us are stressed about not having enough money while 51% of us are stressed about giving and getting gifts. So much stress!

It seemed to me that a few holiday stress hacks might come in handy. Jump over to the 1MWW Facebook page to check out my Tidings of Comfort and Joy, peek at some of my daily walks and while you’re there, join us on Facebook—we do have fun.

We all need some tidings of comfort and joy around the Holidays and I’m happy to jump in with my humble offerings. Happy Holidays!

PS. Here’s the first Tidings of Comfort and Joy video for you—enjoy!

What I Hate

HATE is a strong word. An uncomfortable word, a word many of us have big feelings around. We’re not supposed to hate are we? The negative energy of hate can be phenomenally damaging if we become addicted to it and let it guide our thinking and behavior.

But that’s not the kind of hate I’m talking about here. I’m talking about a HATE that gets me fired up, that focuses my deep purpose, that reminds me why I do what I do and keeps me at it with passion and clarity. A strangely sacred, powerful hate . . .

HERE’S WHAT I HATE:

I hate when you hate yourself. And I especially hate the forces that took you to that awful, despairing, damaging place.

I hate your self-hatred and I hate what took you there and I’m sick of what took you there. I’m absolutely sick of it. I’m sick of you feeling bad about yourself, your choices, what you did and didn’t do. I’m sick of you not KNOWING your own value and worth and intelligence and applying them to your health and well-being. I’m sick of you looking in the mirror and shaming yourself for what you’re not. I’m sick of you looking to the next fad diet or supplement or “it” workout to fix you when in truth you aren’t broken. Dammit. What’s broken (and ugly and damaging) are the health “solutions” that start by telling you how you’re wrong and broken and what you’re supposed to look like and feel like when you’re right (aka buying their product/service.) This is hypocritical fear-mongering and manipulation at best.

I believe our health and the ways we're supposed to get healthy are defined by a lot of shoulda/woulda/coulda expectations that are deliberately disempowering vs empowering. That the message, the subtext of much of what we consume around health is at the core shaming vs healthy. Negative vs positive. And creates dependence vs independence. All of this from an industry that is supposedly dedicated to your health and well-being. How can health and well-being start with shaming and self-loathing? How can you love yourself when you’re given a starting point of focusing on everything that’s wrong with you? It doesn’t make sense and I hate it.

I have a completely different belief about you, your health, yourSelf and your life! I believe you hold the power to create true health for yourSelf (body/mind/spirit) in ways that are authentic to you and your life.

That power comes from knowing yourself, caring for yourself, valuing yourself by discovering your unique formula. You have a unique very personal individual "formula" that's right for your body, mind, and spirit. That formula--a combination of what you think, what you do for exercise, what you consume for fuel and fun, how much or how little sleep you get to renew and heal-- is for you to discover for yourself!

Health, wellness and self-love simply don’t come in a “one-size-fits-all” package. Just because keto/green coffee bean extract/hot yoga Pilates barre/intermittent fasting works for your BFF does not mean it’s going to work for you.

The real problem is that if it doesn’t work for you, instead of thinking, “Huh, that didn’t work for me—that’s not my formula, I’ll try something else,” you think “Oh my god there is SOMETHING WRONG WITH ME! This is working for her so clearly I’m doing it wrong or I’m not trying hard enough or I’m not focused enough or committed enough or I’m not enough.”

The self-shaming, self-blaming, self-loathing talk starts up and pretty soon you hate yourself. Keto/green coffee bean extract/hot yoga Pilates barre/intermittent fasting just took your power away from you and I hate that.

Fortunately your power is innate, it’s your birthright, and even though it was taken from you, you can reclaim it. This power is yours right now today.

If you’re in a pattern of self-hatred, you can’t just STOP and automatically START loving yourself. That’s a transformational journey that will take time, support, compassion, humor, and growth. It’s a journey of change and change is challenging. Change is rigorous work but it’s doable work!

To begin and ultimately succeed in the transformational journey of changing from where you are right now to loving yourself you need to:

  • Know why you want to change.

  • Ignore the gimmicks, the instant gratification, the body ideals, the “experts”, the latest diet/pill/fad.

  • Get back to basics: move more, walk, eat “live” food, drink water. All steps you can take today without any extra/outside influence.

  • Allow the basics to create your solid foundation of health and self-care.

  • Have a community with strong connections that support you in changing.

  • Give your changes time to take hold and take effect.

  • Ask for help and ask questions—don’t go it alone!

  • Celebrate your successes and forgive your fails.

  • Turn your fails into successes by learning from them.

These are the steps of the transformational journey. The steps that lead you from self-hatred to self-acceptance to self-care to self-love. The steps that will change you and your life for the better. And I hate anything less for you or anything that attempts to lessen you.

You are the only YOU we’ve got on this small spinning planet. We need you at your best—your brightest and fullest and most powerful—to bring your unique gifts into this world. No one else but you can do YOU so please take care of you. Truly love YOU on a daily basis with your unique formula—your secret elixir that’s yours and yours alone. There’s real power in knowing and living your formula on a daily basis. The one ingredient you’ll never find is self-hatred. It’s just not in the mix.

(Wondering about the photo on this post? I thought you’d never ask. That’s my soapbox. I throw it down and jump up when I’m good and passionate and ready to let fly with some truth, like I did just now. If you’d like even more truth, get your copy of my free e-book, The Truth About Women Walking to get started on your transformational journey today.)

Giving Thanks

Many of you know how walking saved and also transformed my life. That experience inspired me to found the One Million Women Walking movement. Looking back at those dark years and how walking kept me going forward, literally one step, one walk, one mile at a time, I find myself grateful. Not—oh gee that was just so wonderful I want to do it all again. NOT like that. Not even a little bit. More along the lines of thankful:

  • for all I learned,

  • for the woman I became because of the seemingly endless challenges,

  • for those challenges having led me to here,

  • for One Million Women Walking,

  • and most importantly, for you.

For this I am grateful. For this I give thanks.

We never know where our path will lead, not really. Even something as mundane as the weekly grocery run can turn into an adventure with one flat tire, one stray dog, one elderly woman locked out of her car in the rain. One thing I’ve learned on this walk of life, and continue to learn every day, is to be present, take nothing for granted, and be grateful for everything—large and small!

Be grateful for your senses, for your beating heart and working lungs. Be grateful for your feet, your hands, your laughter. Be grateful for all the things, people, circumstances you take for granted and for all of your own gifts you take for granted—your passions, your talents, your skills, your interests. Never take yourself for granted.

These are just a few of the lessons I’ve been taught over the years of my journey. I’ll continue to learn them in all their magical, wonderful, confusing, frustrating, maddening, infuriating iterations and disguises. Turns out lessons are as stubborn as students. Who knew?

On this day before Thanksgiving, I give thanks for all I’ve learned, all I’ll learn again, all I’ve yet to learn. And I give thanks for you, for walking, for my walking practice, for the One Million Women Walking movement.

What are you thankful for? What lessons are you currently learning? Take them for a walk and make friends with them—that usually works for me.

I wish you and yours the most thankful of Thanksgivings. And after the main course, before the dessert, go for a walk together—around the yard, around the block, around the town. You’ll be so glad you did because you know what? It’ll be an adventure . . .

Walking Creates Health: Part IV

In the previous 3 parts of the Walking Creates Health series, we’ve looked at how walking is the ultimate multi-tasking miracle for women. Walking creates health for our bodies and our minds in myriad wonderful ways. In this final installment, we’ll be uncovering how walking creates health for our souls.

To recap, for the sake of this blog series, when I refer to walking I’m referring to the 1MWW Practice:

  • Taking mini-walks throughout the day.

  • Going for a brisk 25-minute daily walk.

Before diving into today’s topic, I’m going to offer up my personal definition of the soul. In my life, I experience the soul as an immaterial essence, which is spiritual in nature. Another way to say this is I feel the soul is the energy that causes life—a spark from the divine if you will. The soul has governance over the mystical aspects of our life that are just outside of our language to completely explain. However, wonderful advances in technology and quantum physics are bringing us closer and closer to a full understanding of this animating energy without taking away the mystery, the magic, the wonder.

Here’s how walking creates health for our souls! Walking increases creativity up to 60%. That’s stunning and wonderful and is the reason why I encourage all creatives and business owners to walk every day. Creativity comes from inspiration, which is defined as, “A divine influence or action; and the action or power of moving the intellect or emotions.” We’ve all experienced inspired moments, walking has the ability to bring us those moments on a regular basis.

Walking also brings peace of mind, especially walking in nature. Walking outside is also linked to greater awareness of our Selves (body/mind/spirit) and the world we inhabit. We feel a greater sense of connection when we walk and engage our five senses.

Walking also enhances our intuition—our inner knowing—the “still, small voice within”. And walking is a known action for problem solving. The Latin phrase “solvitur ambulando” means “it is solved by walking”.

When we walk we create health for our bodies and minds, we activate our creativity, solve problems, experience peace of mind and enhanced awareness. Is it any wonder then, that in this relaxed yet vitalized state, our life visions, our dreams of who and what we can become reveal themselves. This is one of the elements of walking I most enjoy—a sense of stepping into the possibility of mySelf and my life.

This article would not be complete without mentioning two spiritual walking traditions: walking the labyrinth and taking a pilgrimage.

A labyrinth (not a maze!) is a patterned path, frequently circular in form used as a walking meditation in spiritual practices. The labyrinth represents a journey into our own center, our own Self and knowing, and back out into the world.

Labyrinths are used in all faiths as a moving meditation. It is believed that as you walk the sacred geometry, the different pathways actually help to calm the mind, open the heart, and rejuvenate the Self.

Ancient labyrinths exist worldwide and have been used in the spiritual practices of such diverse peoples as the ancient Greeks, Hindus, the Hopi Indians, and more. One of the most famous labyrinths is in the cathedral of Chartes, in France. Labyrinths occur in many parts of the world and in almost all religious traditions; they are experiencing a wonderful rebirth as we seek connection with something deeper, more profound, and more sacred in our lives. One of my dearest friends, who lives in Minnesota, creates a snow labyrinth every year in December to mark the holidays, the Solstice, and the inner journey. I love walking that labyrinth!

The pilgrimage is another form of spiritual walking. When you hear the word, pilgrimage, I imagine the following come to mind: Mecca, and the Camino de Santiago. These are the most well known but there are many more throughout the world, like Glastonbury Tor to Stonehenge in the U.K. and the Kumano Kodo in Japan. As I write this post I feel the strong urge to put several of these on my Walking Bucket List!

There is a simple yet profound connection in putting our feet on this planet and propelling ourselves forward. Every walk we take has elements of these ancient traditions and today we have the technology and science to more fully grasp how profound an act it is to go for a walk. What an exciting time we live in when we can acknowledge and validate the value of the intuitive traditions of our past with the technology and awareness of our time. Quantum physics is where I leave off but know this: every walk you take is creating health for your body, your mind, and your soul. What magic there is in this knowing and this practice.

The alchemy of walking is irrefutable, something we humans have known since we first stood upright and walked into our future. Keep walking, walking women. It’s a great privilege to walk with you.

P.S. Please post your comments on this article and the others in this series in the comment area below. I’d love to hear from you. Also, join the 1MWW movement to create health for your Self (body/mind/spirit) every day. To join go here: 1MWW. I can’t wait to walk with you!

Walking Creates Health: Part III

In Part I of this series, I shared my belief about what health is: “A series of thoughts, choices, and actions throughout each day across all the days of our life. Health is a living, breathing state of being.” I also shared that I see the self as a whole—a Self with a capital S—meaning the magical combination of body/mind/spirit vs the view that the self is unconnected or unrelated parts or “just our body”.

In Part II we reviewed how walking creates health for our physical self—our body. Those benefits are remarkable. Today we’re going to take a look at how walking creates health for our minds—a topic I’m quite passionate about sharing with women.

Here at 1MWW there are two components to our walking Practice:

  1. Taking mini-walks throughout the day.

  2. Going for a brisk 25-minute daily walk.

Those two components are what I refer to as walking in the context of this blog series.

So how do mini-walks and a brisk daily walk create health for our minds? Well for starters, walking improves self-perception, self-esteem, mood and (this is huge ladies) our sleep quality. Walking also lowers stress and anxiety. One point I want to really emphasize in this catalogue of benefits is that a regular walking habit reduces our risk of becoming depressed by up to 30% AND helps those who are depressed to recover. This is really important ladies because we are twice as likely to be diagnoses with depression than men.

Another important way in which walking creates health for our minds is that as we age, a regular walking habit can improve cognitive function, memory, attention and processing speed, and reduce the risk of dementia by 40%.

And here’s a bit of body/mind connectivity for you: As you begin to feel more fit, more energized, stronger and more vital from walking, your body image and confidence increase. That’s a fantastic benefit for us ladies!

I believe that our mind is not just the muscle we call our brain but an intelligence that runs throughout our entire body. An intelligence we can harness and fuel through simply walking. And I believe that once we begin walking, and walking becomes a habit, that habit will happily create more health for our healthy minds thus becoming a delightful and life-giving upward spiral of ever-increasing health and happiness. From simply walking.

Next week we’ll conclude this series with a look at how walking creates health for our spirit. Yes, walking is good for the soul! See you then!

PS. If you haven’t already done so, please download my free e-book, The Truth About Women Walking. I wrote it just for you to empower you with the life-saving, life-changing transformation walking can bring to yourSelf and your life. Also, please join 1MWW on Facebook—we’re a group of Walking Women who walk our walk and talk our walk every day!

Walking Creates Health: Part II

In Part I of this series, I introduced this definition of health, “The state of being free from illness or injury.” When it comes to how and why walking creates that state, many women are familiar with the physical health benefits realized by our bodies.

I’m a huge fan of these benefits because walking truly is the magic pill we’ve all been looking for in terms of how to have a healthy body. Here at 1MWW there are two walking components to our walking Practice:

  1. Taking mini-walks throughout the day to avoid the damage done by excessive sitting.

  2. Going for a brisk 25-minute daily walk.

Mini-walks (optimally a 5-minute walk after every 30 minutes spent sitting) create a solid foundation for your health by offsetting the damage done to your body from sitting. (Learn more about that here.) A brisk 25-minute daily walk is a walk that’s fast enough in pace that you can’t sing but you can still talk. I recommend a lunch time walk, especially for 9-5 working women.

When put together these two simple steps bring you the following benefits:

  • Reducing your risk of heart disease up to 40%. Heart disease is the #1 killer of women in the U.S. This alone is a great reason to get your walk on!

  • Improving your metabolism, which allows you to manage your weight.

  • Burning an extra 1,000-3,000 calories per week.

  • Lowering your LDL (bad cholesterol) while increasing HDL (good cholesterol).

  • Increasing your bone density.

  • Maintaining healthy joints.

  • Toning your legs and core. (Core muscles include your abdominals and your pelvic floor muscles.)

  • Lowering your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, asthma, and certain cancers.

  • Reducing back/shoulder/neck/hip and joint pain.

That’s a substantial list of benefits that add up to a greatly improved quality of life. And I have to say, that’s the tip of the iceberg. Walking treats or prevents over 40 diseases. If the pharmaceutical industry was able to package up all of the benefits derived from walking and put them into a single pill, that pill would be priceless! But you can have them all for free. That’s the beauty of walking.

Next week we’ll dive into the mental benefits derived from walking. Walking truly is a miracle “drug”—that’s why it’s the #1 prescribed doctor prescribed exercise. In the meantime, move more and take a brisk 25-minute daily walk. You’ve got some great reasons already!

P.S. If you haven’t already, grab your copy of my free e-book, The Truth About Women Walking. I wrote it to share the transformational power of walking with you. I believe every woman on the planet needs to know the truth--it’s that important. Why? Because walking can save your life, your mom's life, your daughter's life, your sister's life, your BFF's life. That’s important to me, to you, to all of us. Download your copy, get empowered and blown away, then share The Truth About Women Walking with every single woman you know.

Walking Creates Health: Part I

Health is defined as, “The state of being free from illness or injury.” Free from illness or injury sounds pretty good. Sounds like how most of us would prefer to be--every day. But health is not a static, fixed point we arrive at--health is a series of thoughts, choices, and actions throughout each day across all the days of our life. So health is a living, breathing state of being, fluctuating depending on all the variables we throw at it--some of which are doozies.

I don’t know a single person who is rigorous enough in their thoughts, choices, and actions to be “free from illness or injury” one hundred percent of the time. But I know some people who are right up there in the eighty to ninety percent zone, which is a great place to live. Most of those individuals practice health daily by eating whole, live foods, drinking plenty of water, getting outside, exercising, and getting the sleep they need. These health choices aren’t some enforced protocol to make them “free from illness or injury”; these health choices are the habits of their lives so there’s no stress, no forcing, no shaming/blaming/ugly self talk around any of it. They just live a healthy life and are, therefore, healthy.

That being said, for many people those health practices would feel forced, would feel like a tortuous way to live, would feel like punishment. Would be hard practices to adapt and turn into habits.

That’s why I’m a fan of starting with a really basic, yet profoundly effective activity that’s pretty easy to incorporate into just about everyone’s daily life: walking. Why? Because walking creates health.

Walking literally saved my life during the darkest years I’ve ever experienced and it became the foundation for my health practice. I’m a devoted daily walker.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be exploring how and why walking creates health. We’ll do a deep dive into the benefits we realize for our whole Self (body/mind/spirit) when we choose two simple actions:

  • Taking mini-walks throughout the day.

  • Going for a brisk 25-minute daily walk.

These two simple actions have such profound results its like magic! I look forward to sharing the magic with you here.

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Cool Tips to Make Your Autumn Walks the Best Walks Ever!

I will confess freely and openly: I LOVE WALKING IN THE FALL! It’s my favorite time of year to get my walk on. The more hours I can be outside walking, the happier I am. I think I store up the Vitamin D, the golden light, the smells and sounds to replay and re-experience during winter’s long dark hours. Although winter walking is really fantastic too if you know how to layer, which brings me to my cool tips for you, the first of which is layering.

I’m a fan of being comfortable when I’m walking and the key is layering. I keep it simple and make sure I have a warmish layer (fleece or a light wool sweater) to which I can add a windbreaker--with a hood. I carry light gloves and an ear band or hat in case the temps drop or the wind really picks up. I’m more of a fan of hiking pants than jeans or leggings/tights, the main reason for that being versatility and pockets. And on my feet? Lightweight hiking boots with good support and socks that fit and wick.

This combination of layers is lightweight, easy to grab and go, and keeps me comfortable for a power walk or a full day of outdoor exploration. Layering is the key.

My next tip has to do with the two essentials for autumn walking: water and your camera! We too often neglect hydration when the summer heat is gone. That’s a huge mistake! Take water with you and drink it often. If I’m going for a power walk I’ll hydrate before I start and make sure I drink a full glass when I return. If I’m out for the day, I carry at least two liters with me.

And your camera is critical this time of year. The golden light--the incredible color of trees, the slow revealing of the contours of the land as the leaves fall away--capture all of this because this fleeting season is truly one of the most beautiful! The camera on your phone is more than adequate to record your walk so that you’ll have a visual memory later on. Do this--you’ll be so glad you did!

My last tip is to walk at different times of day and in different places. Get a group of pals together for a sunrise walk in your local park or snag your significant other for a weekend away. The light at sunrise and late afternoon to sunset is heart-stoppingly gorgeous and worthy of some effort. And a lunchtime walk under fall’s blue sky is a walk to remember and be grateful for.

There is a sense of aliveness that comes with being outside during this transition season. A glow about the day that you bring back inside with you and keep going with a fire and a sense of satisfaction. Revel in these golden days by layering up or down for comfort, hydrating, walking wherever and whenever, and capturing the moments that speak to you. They’ll speak to you for years to come.

Happy walking!

National Walk to School Day

Today is National Walk to School Day. Communities all across the U.S. will celebrate the benefits of walking to school today. Many of those communities will use today’s celebration and awareness to create safe walking and biking routes for their children and youth. It’s a good day!

Growing up on Signal Mountain, outside of Chattanooga, Tennessee, we walked to school when the weather was good. The school bus stop was at the street corner just by my house but on nice days, walking to school was a neighborhood thing. We were an ever expanding group of kids walking the the blocks to our local elementary school. I remember scuffling along through leaves with friends, watching for the crossing guards at roadways, and the elbowing to get to the water fountain before the first bell rang.

Walking home from school was something I looked forward to. The same group of neighborhood kids would gather up and walk home together. Many were joined by their very enthusiastic dogs as they got close to home. We were a big pack of kids and dogs, heading homeward, dropping off by ones and twos at our homes or the homes of our friends. I recall that I felt free, I felt at peace, I daydreamed and walked and the stress of the school day disappeared.

Granted that was a long, long, time ago and times have changed. But the sensation of bookmarking my school day with a welcomed walk has stayed with me.

I’m obviously a fan of National Walk to School Day for many reasons but they all boil down to one: health. The health of our kids, which is enhanced by walking to school. The health of our neighborhoods and communities, which is enhanced by having safe walking routes for our kids. The health of our connections to one another—the shared activity of walking to school means that we’re aware of our neighbors, aware of what’s going on in our neighborhoods, aware of and caring of, one another.

National Walk to School Day is a good thing. Let me know on the 1MWW FB page if your community is participating—I’d love to hear from you and learn how your community is getting its walk on.