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wasn't that I was sick or anything. But I didn't have the energy I used to, and
I was starting to worry about my future health."
That worry is
what led Shellie, 39, to take a good, long look at her daily habits. "Staying
in shape takes time," she said, "and time is what I just don't have as a single
mom with a full-time job."
An office manager with an 8-year-old
daughter and a 5-year-old son, Shellie was at an unhealthy weight. And her blood
pressure and cholesterol numbers were starting to creep up. That concerned her,
because her mother
has type 2 diabetes and her father died of a heart attack when he was just 48.
"I realized that I had put myself on the back
burner for too long and it was time for me to make time for myself, even if it
was just a few minutes a day," she said. "I wrote myself a note and taped it to
my bathroom mirror. It said, 'I will take a 10-minute walk during my morning
coffee break every day this week.'"
The next week, another note
went up on the mirror. This one said, "I will take a 10-minute walk during my
morning break AND my afternoon break every day this week." Those two walks
added up to 20 minutes a day, 5 days a week, and she was delighted to find that
they did NOT take any extra time out of her day.
One of her
coworkers, Tara, started walking with Shellie during their breaks. "Tara wore a
pedometer that kept track of how many steps she took. She had this contest with
herself to see how many steps she could record during a regular work day. I
wanted one of those gadgets!" Shellie said.
She got herself a
pedometer and clipped it on every morning. At work she looked for every
opportunity to get up and walk around. "I'd walk over to someone's desk instead
of e-mailing or phoning them. Once in a while I'd walk up the stairs to the
second floor just for no reason. It was actually fun to check my pedometer and
see the numbers."
Tara, who walked to work every day, came up with
an idea: Shellie could drive to Tara's house, park her car, and join Tara in
the 10-minute walk to work. At the end of the day, they could return
together—or on their own if their schedules didn't work out.
meant leaving my house 15 minutes early and getting home 15 minutes later,"
said Shellie, "but that seemed like something I could fit in, so I tried it for
a week and it was great. I got more exercise, I built up steps on my pedometer,
and I had company."
She's kept up that schedule for 2 years now,
despite the fact that 6 months ago Tara left the company for another job across
town. "I still park my car at Tara's house," Shellie said. "It's become such a
habit. I honestly don't even think about it. In fact, when something comes up
and I miss any of my walks, I get a little cranky."
Shellie's blood pressure and cholesterol numbers are back down to normal.
"Plus, I'm 25 pounds lighter and have so much more energy now. I have no more
problems keeping up with my kids!"
This story is based on information gathered from many people facing this health issue.
For more information, see the topic Fitness: Getting and Staying Active.
September 26, 2013
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Heather Chambliss, PhD - Exercise Science
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