Struggling to Maintain My Walking Practice by Kevin Swantek

It has been quite a while since my last post. Since that time, I've fallen out of practice with my walking. The result of this has directly impacted both my mental and physical health.

Because I haven't been walking, I've seen my motivation for regular workouts decline; My general happiness in life has declined; and I've found my stress levels rising. Some of this could be attributed to the changing weather, and the holiday season, but I know for my self that when I keep daily walking routine, many of these things affect me to a much less degree.

Living in Seattle, it's easy to make excuses to myself that the days are short, wet, and gray. But, ultimately that has never stopped me from walking in the past. Such as all things in life, there is an ebb and flow. I'd like to say that this has just been an ebb, but I also recognize that there is a spiraling nature to this behavior, where making the decision to not walk each day leads to not being motivated to workout, that leads to self shaming, that leads to not feeling like walking, and it all just keeps spiraling down.

One thing I've come to recognize over this last month, is that when I'm visiting family in my home town, I love to walk through town. It is strangely invigorating, and leaves me feeling recharged. When I drive back into Seattle I slowly feel that charge being zapped. On some level this may be and indicator that I need a change of scenery, but even more than that it makes me start asking questions about the nature of my walking practice.

When I was in high school I attended Karate classes 3 days week, for very close 6 six years. I take for granted that when I started I was slow, uncoordinated, and very good. Even though I only attended classes 3 times a week, I practiced daily. I made time to stretch in the morning and evenings, and practiced all my katas diligently. I don't remember at what point I started to excel in class, but I owe that to the amount of time put into it.  I made martial arts a daily practice then. When I started getting into filmmaking, and then eventually moving to Seattle for college, I stopped making time for martial arts in my life, and I slowly reverted back to my slower, less flexible self, and unhappier self. All the benefits I had received from karate quickly drifted away.

It wasn't until a few  years into living in Seattle that I found walking, and subconsciously began developing it as a daily practice. It took even longer to consciously recognize that I made daily walking a priority in my life. It started simply as walking to and from work during the week, and walking to local coffee shops on the weekends, but then developed into walking as a means to get other places. If I was meeting friends, I would figure out how far away places were, and then take the extra time to walk to meet them. I slowly began to take for granted that I walked because it made me happy, and didn't necessarily see that it also made me less stressed, a feel more connected with my friends, and my city.

These last few months have really showed me how much benefit I get from walking, by showing me how I bad feel when I'm not making it a daily part of my life.

Starting today I'm making a promise to myself  to restart my daily walking practice, and make a concerted effort to stop taking for granted the benefits I receive from walking.