Walking Women: Debbie Wood!

Today's Walking Women Interview is with Debbie Wood of Broadview Heights, Ohio.

Q. Debbie, what inspired you to start walking?

A. For me, the inspiration was just to feel better. There’s something about being out in nature, whether it be sunny or pouring rain that just melts your troubles away, even if it’s only for a while.
Having the realization hit me--that I could feel better just by walking--was what inspired me to expand my knowledge and hiking ability and figure out just what it could do for me.

Q. How long have you been walking?

A. I would say that my walking/hiking really started when I joined the Cleveland Hiking Club in October of 2010. Being a part of an organized club is an inspiration in and of itself because there are events, challenges, and plenty to keep the mind and body occupied. I had been walking in the parks and on sidewalks since I was a little girl, but in my early 50’s I had gone through a pretty heartbreaking divorce. That was when hiking found me, and I truly believe it was a divine intervention that saved me.

Q. What changes (body, mind, spirit) have resulted from walking?

A. This is probably my favorite question of them all. I LOVE sharing with women all of the improvements that happen when you begin to walk/hike. It’s actually a bit of a minor miracle, and for me, it was on steroids.
I don’t think it really matters when you get into hiking, what matters is when hiking gets into you. There is a change that takes place that’s pretty hard to explain, but I’ll give it my best shot.
For starters, I began to see all aspects of my life through different eyes. I was less stressed and as a whole, just felt better.   
When you hike the hard hikes, (like for example I did a fourteener in Colorado, which means that you climb to 14,000 feet in elevation) you realize that all those people who ever told you that you couldn’t do ANYTHING in your life were wrong! You stand on top of that mountain and you are all of a sudden 10 feet tall. You know you’ve accomplished something that a very small percentage of the population will ever do and something inside of you changes. You grow in a way that you can never go back from.

Debbie summiting Mount Cameron, in Colorado.

Debbie summiting Mount Cameron, in Colorado.

Q. What happens if you don't walk?

A. Major crash is the only way I can describe it. My sleep quality tanks, I begin to feel fat, my energy goes right down the drain and my overall well-being suffers tremendously, most of all my attitude and mental state.

Q. What does walking mean to you?

A. Walking to me means pretty much everything. I really don’t know where I would be right now if I wasn’t able to get out and hike! I am eternally grateful that I have two strong legs to carry me through the most difficult hikes, two good eyes and ears to see and hear the beauty of the forest, and most of all a sound mind to enjoy it all and let it have its way with me.

Q. What are your biggest walking challenges/obstacles?

A. I’m going to have to say the only challenge I have is that because of the fact that I work full time, I don’t have the amount of time to devote to hiking/walking as I would like. For me, the biggest challenge is to sit in an office and look out the windows at a beautiful, sunny day and listen to the trails calling my name. (I can seriously almost hear it!)

Q. What's your favorite place to walk?

A. Oh I have so many, but I think that given the fact that my roots are in Northeast Ohio, I would have to say that anywhere in the Emerald Necklace or the Cuyahoga Valley National Park are my favorites.

The Emerald Necklace is an amazing series of parks (eighteen trailheads in all) that cover over 21,000 acres. You can walk, ride your bike or your horse or just find a really cool picnic area and spend the day relaxing. There are also nature education centers, golf courses, and many spots to cast a line and catch some fresh fish. The Cleveland Zoo is also a part of the system, which is one of the only spots that I knew inside and out as a child.

High river crossing in Burr Oak, Ohio.

High river crossing in Burr Oak, Ohio.

I’ve hiked pretty much from coast to coast in the U.S. and I still feel that we, in Northeast Ohio, have the most beautiful parks in the country. People actually come from all over the world to visit, so there has to be something to it. So come visit and look me up. I’d be glad to be your tour guide.

Q. What advice would you give to women who know they should be walking but aren’t yet?

A. In the words of the great tennis shoe… Just Do It!  In my soon to be released book, The First Mile is the Hardest, I deliver this message loud and clear. The hardest part is getting up off your easy chair and just beginning! Once you start it becomes addictive and you will notice all the sudden changes that happen to you mentally and physically and you will seriously wonder what took you so long.

But most of all, it's just plain fun!!!

Debbie, it is plain fun! I couldn't agree with you more. Thanks for sharing your walking story!

Debbie Wood is a legal secretary by profession but her real love is writing and internet marketing. She also loves everything hiking and nature. Being outdoors is clearly her passion and she is eager to climb more mountains. Two of Debbie’s biggest hiking accomplishments are receiving her hiking club's 10,000 mile patch (in seven years) and hiking all of the fifty-nine cities in Cuyahoga County (in five years).

Debbie is a proud grandmother of three: Anthony, Luca, and Layla, and she's looking forward to more as her kids have only just begun their lives as parents.  She's also very eager to be hiking with her grandbabies! 

Debbie is the author of the soon to be published book, The First Mile is the Hardest, Seven Hiking Lessons That Will Change Your Life, which is due to be released this holiday season. You can learn more about her book, her hikes, and her love of life on her Facebook page: Addicted2Hiking.