Go Slow and Change Your Life
If we go slow we can change our life. When we do anything that we’re not used to, physical, mental or emotional, we’re going to experience discomfort.
About 40 years ago I realized the lifestyle choices I was making weren’t compatible with the overall life I wanted to lead. I realized the things I really enjoyed were becoming harder and harder to do without experiencing more and more discomfort. I had obligations to my family that needed to be fulfilled. I was in business for myself and wasn’t able to walk away from the job(s) I had. But, I did have choices, we always have choices.
My life was very full and still is, as is the case with most of us. Since there are only 24 hours in a day, I couldn’t launch myself into an all consuming physical fitness program, there just wasn’t enough time. That meant two things. One: I had to start small, a little at a time. And two: I had to look places other than the physical realm to come up with all my answers.
Having little spare time was actually a blessing, I was forced to take it slow. As I got more physically fit, and felt so much better for it, I found there were lots of other areas in my life that were sucking up my time, my life energies and were of no real benefit. Watching reruns of reruns and partying were favorite pastimes of most of my friends and my then significant other. Removing reruns and constant partying from my life meant more time for making improvements in the other areas of my life. Giving the problem some thought, I realized those improvements were more important to me than the lifestyle homeostasis I was in. Changing priorities can sometimes change our life, it did mine.
As I became more aware of how the changes were beneficially affecting my life, I also became aware that I was the only one interested in making those changes. Eventually, the time came when it was necessary to make a decision, a very difficult decision.
My choices were: staying in the known, where I’d been, and where I would still be comfortable as part of the "tribe." The other choice was to continue toward the unknown, a destination that might be uncomfortable, stressful and prove to be worse than where I was at the time. One thing that made the transition easier was I found a new partner, one who wanted the same lifestyle I did.
Celinda had been looking for beneficial changes longer than I had. We both had pieces of knowledge the other didn’t and we were able to begin walking the road together, and helping each other in the process.
A lot of my old friends drifted away, they didn’t want or like the changes I was making. I believe I made the right decision. One old friend committed suicide quickly one day. Others did it over a long period, on a day to day basis.
Like the chaos theory implies, it took time for the upheavals and stressful times to turn into new discoveries and progress. No one can be sure the decisions they’re making are the right ones, especially when they involve breaking habits or changing long standing lifestyle patterns. Fad or crash diets, all or nothing physical fitness programs and snap decisions concerning major emotional changes, only work for a small percentage (less than 2%) of those who jump into them.
After the slow changes period, I was able to become more at ease with where I was going, and it was possible to accelerate the process. Since that time, I've been involved with lots of physical challenges. During the slow change years I was able to hone what worked and discard what didn't, all the while learning how to do it without long-term injury.
When I did the El Camino de Santiago with friends in 2005, I had twenty-five plus years of experience in knowing how far, how fast and how often I could push myself without getting injured. At one point I did get sick, with flu like symptoms, but only for one day. I had no control over sick people around me and at that point in the adventure, I hadn’t figured out that I did have control over my food choices, at least for the most part.
The biggest problems for most people on the Camino de Santiago were problems with their feet, which in turn caused problems with their knees, hips, back, shoulders and usually, sooner rather than later, their entire physical structure. That in turn caused problems with their emotional state. Many who'd envisioned doing the El Camino de Santiago as a religious pilgrimage ended up quitting in an unholy funk.
We’re lead to believe that our body, mind and soul are individual parts that can be easily separated, removed or chemically controlled without affecting any other part of the whole. If we listen to our inner wisdom, we know that isn't so.
When someone's feet hurt on the Camino and they treated the symptoms, with a pill, alcohol or other superficial means, and didn’t look for the causes, the problem came back and usually in geometric proportions.
My friends and I walked a faster pace than most. When we overtook others from behind, it was possible to see how those ahead were placing their feet, carrying their load and whether they were working with the human anatomy, or against it. The vast majority were into forcing and fighting instead of looking and listening, and it showed in how they felt at the end of the day.
Blisters were the norm with some being bad enough to force the person to give up their quest after only a few days. Others took handfuls of pills, poured on salves and ointments, consulted various doctors along the way and/or applied patches and bandages. Few took the time to sit and think about what it was that was causing their problem(s). We’re lead to believe that if we treat the symptom(s), the cause will take care of itself. In reality the reverse is actually true. Usually, treating symptoms is easier than finding the cause, and easy seems to be the road most prefer to travel. It's easier to blame it on the shoes than it is to figure out whether our foot strike is correct or not.
If we spend a few hours learning how to work in harmony with the magnificent structure we call our body, it will still take a lot of work and time to integrate that learning into habit. But, long-term benefits are worth the effort.
Old patterns are like deep ruts in a road, it’s hard to get out of them and even more difficult not to fall back in. Living in harmony with our body and the world around us is an everyday, every minute, lifelong job.
The one thing that would probably be the most beneficial to anyone who plans to do a walk like the Camino, the Continental Trail or any other adventure of that type, would be to find someone who knows what works and what doesn’t when walking long distances, and is able to pass the knowledge on to others.
Tags: Fitness , Wellness , Health , Blisters , Feet , Exercise
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