Walk this way

Over the last six months I’ve lost about 20 pounds, despite not having any intention of losing weight. I was perfectly happy at my previous weight. Sure my pants were a little snug and my face was a little jiggly and I ran out of breathe at the thought of walking…okay maybe not perfectly happy, but I wasn’t inspired to do anything about it. I was probably at my heaviest during my tenure as a reporter. I lived in my car or at my desk, never walked anywhere and lived on fast food. The only thing that kept me from becoming grossly obese was the constant stress that burned off much of the calories.

Things changed when I moved to Ann Arbor.

I moved into a sixth floor walk up and without an elevator as an options my walk was on. Parking in Ann Arbor is like parking in New York, an urban legend. To avoid paying ungodly parking fees or fines, I leave my car in the house lot and walk around downtown. It started with just a block away to hit Subway. After a while I started walking the fix or six blocks to Starbucks and Borders. By the third month I was walking several miles to hit the library and guitar stores.

I was also walking at school. My inherent impatience at waiting for parking spaces overrided my inherent laziness, so I parked in the only open lot about half a mile away from my building. I do that walk four times a week. Again, I started small with just the walk to and from my car. But then I started walking to other places on campus which is all uphill. Eastern’s campus is the nexus of some strange parallel universe where, no matter which end of campus you are on, you’re walking up hill.

Around this same time I stopped eating late at night. This had nothing to do with wanting to lose weight, it had to do with feeling like my heart would explode with every breath while I slept because of heartburn. Also, because I am living on a poverty level stipend, I couldn’t afford to eat fast food for every meal so I started buying groceries.

The weight loss was not obvious until the last few weeks. My face was the first place I noticed it. When I would shave I noticed my face looked thinner. I had bought a new razor and at first thought maybe I bought some sort of fat trimmer but then my pants started to fit better. The waist band wasn’t being flipped over my belt by my stomach anymore. And then I started wearing a belt to hold them up.

The most dramatic affect though has been on my heart. My mom started noticing that I wasn’t wheezing when I would talk to her on the phone while walking. I didn’t noticed myself though until I had to help move my grandmother. Just a year ago, when we moved her last, I had to take frequent breaks and keep my inhaler handy because I was in such poor shape. I didn’t need to rest at all this time and didn’t notice until the end that I didn’t have my inhaler with me. The next day it was even more obvious when I spent three hours shoveling our entire driveway by myself without breaking a sweat or blood vessel. A year ago I couldn’t have walked to the end of the driveway and back without wheezing, let along while pushing heavy snow.

It’s all very amazing. Maybe I should write a book with Dr. Phil.