It was a Saturday morning and I went out for a walk as I have done and often do to wake up, enjoy the cool morning air, think about the day ahead, and reflect on all that I am thankful for in my life. This particular morning was the morning of my 39th birthday so it was an especially good morning. As I was walking I remember thinking, okay, I’m turning 39 which means next year I will be the big 4---0! Growing up I noticed many people considered turning 40 as the end of their youth or it meant they were officially “old”. Excitedly I was embracing turning 40 with the goal of reflecting on all I was able to experience in my life and most importantly all I still wanted to accomplish!
In my mid-30’s I had always celebrated turning a year older. Viewing myself as a youthful person and having been health conscious and physically active most of life I looked forward to living out my life healthy and optomistically free from some type of chronic lifestyle disease. My mom used to joke that I started walking at 9 months and had been running ever since. As a youngster and even a teenager being active was fun for me and I enjoyed dance, various sports, and playing outside with my family and friends. Through college and even now as a working (health) professional I have found inspiration and peace with long walks in the woods, in the city or through communities near where I have lived. I love the adventure of walking and exploring recreation areas, communities or cities that I have never been. A little bit of the kid remains in me I guess because adventuring and exploring new places like I did in my youth has kept me motivated and active into my adult years.
Besides regular workouts at the gym or long runs outside long walks have allowed me to take a break from everything going on at the time and have always made me feel better about myself. Activities such as walking, running, dancing, and yoga are ones I enjoy often. When I think about those with a chronic disease such as heart disease or Type II Diabetes, I am grateful for the ability to move around easily. While walking that morning I decided that I wanted to celebrate my 39th birthday and each birthday following by embracing my good health. I felt I needed to further celebrate my age each year and how inspiring it would be to walk a mile for every year I am old - plus one for good luck. A long walk would give me time to reflect on the past year, think about my personal, professional and health goals for the upcoming year while at the same time giving me a goal to work toward over the next 50-60 years. Achieving my goal of a yearly birthday walk meant I would also need to remain active and train each day the rest of the year. Now I just needed to figure out how and where to walk all “my” miles. To walk 40 miles by the end of the weekend I needed to walk 20 miles each day - could I do it? Now I had a challenge, what an exciting birthday weekend I was going to celebrate.
With 40 miles as my goal my walk started and by the end of day one I had walked a total of 18 miles. The walk was pleasurable and relaxing and I felt good about myself. It was empowering knowing I had walked with a plausible health objective that would keep me moving for many years. In my professional experience and educational learnings I had understood that body movement slows the aging process, reduces stress, helps maintain a healthy body weight, and in my opinion overall puts people in a better mood. In order to finish my walk before going back to work Monday morning I had to walk 22 miles the next day and I had never walked that many miles in one day. Starting a tradition that I enjoy almost a decade later I accomplished my goal that first year and have celebrated turning a year older each year walking my Mile For Every Year.
Thank you for reading about my story. Can you share a little bit about yourself and your health goals? What will be your Mile For Every Year?