Kathie: It’s been a few weeks since I wrote about my struggles with the “E” word and my renewed commitment to increase my activity levels.

I decided to start with small, achievable goals. Every time I go to the store, I park as far away from the doors as I can. It doesn’t sound like much, but all those steps add up, and I get the added bonus of breathing the fresh air, seeing the sky, noticing how the trees are budding out, the flowers are starting to bloom, and the birds are building nests. It’s true – I can see all of this just from the local shopping center car parks. Although I wouldn’t claim to do any power-walking, my walks now are a far cry from my usual lazy strolls. I try to be mindful about what I’m doing and why. I try to focus on the action of moving, and of engaging my whole body with that action, not just my legs and feet. An amazing thing is that I actually enjoy the process. For one thing, it’s much easier to find a parking spot that’s at the far end of the car park than it is to find one up close. No more frustration about losing out on that premium space! It also gives me a pleasant three or five minute walk, which I feel ridiculously proud of myself for doing.

The other objective I set myself was to attend at least two yoga classes each week. I’ve joined two yoga “studios” to help me with this goal. There’s nothing fancy about these classes; they’re both very, very low key. The sessions are held in local community centers (read – inexpensive), and both provide a great opportunity for stretching and strengthening the core muscles. I’ve been to two classes each week, and I’d like to increase that to at least three on some weeks.

As I’m writing this, I’m realizing that the changes I’ve made sound really minimal. That was partly intentional because I wanted to set achievable goals, but now that I’m sort of in the habit of walking a bit more and practicing yoga more often, I feel ready for the next stage. I don’t go to the store every day and I don’t go to a yoga class every day, so in the future on those days I’m going to commit to walking around the block at least once. My hope is that after a couple of weeks, this will feel too easy and I’ll be ready for more.

What I’m also realizing is that what I feel happiest about with my new activity level is not so much the physical benefits that I feel with all those deep yoga stretches and few hundred paces, but rather the fact that I’ve made a commitment and that I’m sticking with it. I know it hasn’t been very long, but every day counts. And every time I walk to the store or take a yoga class, I feel more empowered and in control of my physical health. The more I do the work, the more I can happily see myself without guilt or gym-anxiety as a person who doesn’t exercise, but as a person who is active.

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