Pushing the limits of possibility
It seems that every time I read a good weight loss book I am filled with a certain amount of motivation to take on challenges that I might not have taken on otherwise.
A few years ago this was most definitely true after reading a weight loss book, "Make the Connection: Ten Steps to a better body - and a better life" written by Bob Greene and Oprah Winfrey.
It's hard to imagine that it's already been about 16 years ago since I've read that book, but even though a bit of time has passed since I have read that book, one life experience that resulted from the reading of that book remains very clearly with me to this day.
At that time, I remember having this incredible desire thereafter to take to the open road and start walking.
I asked my grandmother, who I lived with at the time, "How far do I have to go to walk a total of one mile?"
I asked her this because she often knows exactly how far any one place is from another in the county. She gained this knowledge after having spent significant time on the road in the area working as a home health nurse.
And as expected, my grandmother knew exactly how far I needed to go.
So I walked to the point that she told me was a half a mile out and then I walked the half a mile back.
Since that was an easy walk, I decided the next day to ask her how far I needed to go to walk a total of two miles.
I repeated the process, walking out as far as she told me to go, and then walking the same distance back.
"Well that was easy," I thought. "I can do more."
So the next day I asked about how far I needed to walk to walk a total of three miles. If I could do two miles easily, certainly I could walk three no problem.
A funny thing happened that day. Something got lost in the translation when I asked my question, or perhaps my grandmother was a little distracted because the answer I got wasn't quite what I was looking for.
Yet I knew my grandmother knew her distances, so not for a second did I question the information that she gave me.
Walking past the half-mile point and then the mile point on my walk I thought, "I only have another half mile to go before having to turn around. I can do this."
I kept walking and I kept walking. My expensive brand-name sneakers started to chaff, making them feel a lot less luxurious than I thought they should feel. Wow, this is starting to hurt, but it's only another half mile, certainly I can do this.
Blisters started to form, blood starting to appear on my white socks.
It's only a little ways to go I told myself. If I can walk two miles, I can certainly walk three. I pressed on despite my obvious discomfort, not thinking for a second to question the information that my grandmother had given me about how far to walk to achieve a three-mile walk.
Time ticked on. Wow, this is a longer walk than I expected it to be.
Still I pressed on.
Familiar territory the whole way, yet for some reason walking this road that I lived on at the time seemed so much longer while I walked it than while I drove it.
Passing houses of this neighbor and that neighbor, I kept on going.
I made it within a few feet of the point of turning around, in a wooded area our family affectionately called the "wees" on Lake Wesauking Road. The "wees" as we called it were small ups and downs in the road that were fun to ride over as a child. We would all squeal "Wee!" as we would go over the "wees."
It was at that point, a car drove past me, and wouldn't you know, it was my grandmother on the way to lunch with friends.
I trudged on, so close to the point of turning around. Eventually, I got to the point of turning around and made my way back home.
"Wow! That was the longest half mile I had ever walked," I thought.
I just didn't get it. I didn't question this information I received from my grandmother, even though it was the longest half mile of my life.
I eventually got home again and peeled my sneakers and bloody, pus-stained socks off my feet.
Boy, did that ever hurt!
Later on, talking with my grandmother, she tells me she was surprised to see me out so far.
"I told you I wanted to walk three miles when I asked this morning how far it would be, and I did," I replied.
It was at that moment that the truth about how far I walked that day came out. I had walked a total of six miles that day. I walked three miles out, and three miles back.
I think I must have had a Homer Simpson moment after hearing that. "Doh!" A light bulb figuratively appearing above my head, "No wonder that last half mile seemed so long!"
Despite the bloody, blistered feet that I got that day, I did get one thing really good out of that experience beyond a really good workout. I learned the odd lesson that you never really know how much you can do until you don't know what you are doing.
So convinced that the final two miles that I walked out was really only a half mile, I pushed myself so far beyond what I would have, had I known just how far I had really walked. I would have never learned that I could walk six miles, blood, blisters or not.
I pushed based on logic that made sense at the time.
By the time I made it to the three mile out point, I really wanted to go home, and at that point, I really had pushed myself as much as I could, past the point of comfort, which I might not have done otherwise.
It's so easy to do what's comfortable - to walk only so far that one doesn't feel too taxed at the end of the walk.
When I got back, I was ready to collapse into a comfy chair and put my sore feet in the air and relax. I had earned it.
The sad thing was that I never made that walk again because of how sore it made my feet and how much it wore me out.
And now I am fighting to keep the ability to walk as arthritis wracks me with pain so quickly and so easily anymore.
I regret having made that walk only once when I was able to. Better shoes and better socks might have done the trick.
I can pick better shoes though; and if I ever regain that ability to walk such distances, I will do it, even if those new shoes prove no better than the ones before them. Why? Because the gift of being able to walk is not a gift I want to let go of so easily.
(Follow my weight-loss journey and show your support by liking the page https://www.facebook.com/GretchenGetFit or on Twitter @GretchenGet-Fit.)