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Learning to Walk Again

When you are morbidly obese, many of the most basic things in life are extremely difficult. Primary among these things is the simple act of walking. It is something that most healthy people take totally for granted. To be truthful I always looked down on it as a form of exercise. Jogging seemed so much more like the punishment that exercise was supposed to be in my messed up head. 

When you weigh in excess of 500 pounds though, just getting off the sofa is hard, much less walking anywhere. 

Walking was pain. Back pain, knee pain, emotional pain, and a heavy dose of guilt for not being able to do something so simple. As you walk, you shuffle your feet more than walk. You avoid rough terrain and bumps because any little trip and you might not be quick enough or strong enough to catch yourself. Even on flat ground, an uneven seam in the concrete has to be noticed. The slightest misstep can tweak your ankle or your knee. Your body can't support you and every step is painful. Every step is a reminder and you start looking for somewhere to sit. You want somewhere to hide from the pain and the shame of how you must look waddling along like a penguin. You don't see anything but where you are going to place your next step. You focus on how much farther you have, and when it will be over. You look down and push.

That isn't walking, that is struggling. 

Today, I went to the woods. It was a state park not far from my home. It was a beautiful day with a slight chill in the air. The wind was blowing through the trees and the leaves were scurrying along the path as if getting out of my way. It was a true revelation. There was no pain, no torture. My stride has lengthened, my steps are higher, there is a certainty to my footfalls. I don't have to look where the next step goes. As I was walking I realized something amazing. 

I was outside, in the woods, and it was a perfect day. 

I didn't have to stare at the ground. I wasn't looking for a bench. There was no urgency to make it stop. There was a whole world around me. 

The wind was whipping through the trees as if she was desperately trying to push me along. The dull roar of her through the branches and the leaves sounded like applause as if the whole forest was cheering me on. I could see where animals had made little pathways through the bushes. I could look out and see the sun bouncing off the lake and hitting me in the eyes as if putting me in the spotlight. 

When the path cut through a field, the tall grass on either side waved as if a thousand cheering banners were celebrating the warrior's return to Rome down a promenade of twigs and leaves. I wasn't walking anymore, I was living. I was in a world that had ceased to exist for almost 20 years and it was an amazing place that deserved far more attention than I have given it. 

I looked down at my watch and realized that I had been walking for almost an hour. It hadn't been painful, it had been beautiful. I wasn't looking for it to end. I turned back with almost a sense of remorse as I had yet to see what was around the next corner, but knew that I had to get home. 

But now, I know it is there. Now I don't need a map, or an excuse. I don't need somewhere to sit, or a plan of attack. Now I simply need the time to keep going. 

I will most definitely find the time, for I learned something amazing today. 

I learned to walk again. 

99 votes + -


parys1 wrote 62 months ago:
cbeutler wrote 62 months ago:
Amazing, don't forget you are a medal winning runner too. Not to mention you got back on your bike hip and all. Lets not forget how you almost killed that poor boy on the elliptical trying to show off for his girlfriend. I'm very sorry to say you sir are a badass mofo. No I'm not sorry to say it you are a bad ass mofo!
Windy_ wrote 62 months ago:
This made me tear up. I am so happy for you. <3
DAM_Fine wrote 62 months ago:
oved this. Not only for the walking, but for the description of the woods. There really is nothing ike it for bringing peace.
terrigrace wrote 62 months ago:
Amazing! thanks for sharing something that is all too easy to take for granted.
Michellerawrrr wrote 62 months ago:
You are AWESOME!
funkycamper wrote 62 months ago:
Absolutely lovely. I love the woods as well so I'm thrilled for you. Enjoy!
Shoshona1950 wrote 62 months ago:
Thank you.
Such a well written, beautiful piece.
And a reminder and and inspiration for me, to be thankful for my mobility, and to get outside again and walk again, like I used to do before I started not taking care of myself. Again, Thank you.
Elbee1 wrote 62 months ago:
This was the most beautiful piece I have read here. Very touching. Great description! You are amazing! Keep on going!
ImprovingEla wrote 62 months ago:
Being on MFP and reading this sort of things makes me always realize that it is the simple things that we nees to remind more often!
It is not always the pushing to the outermost limits that brings the success, but the simple things like walking and just open our eyes and looking around!
Thanks for sharing!
MRPolish1 wrote 62 months ago:
wow! that is incredible! You are amazing and an inspiration. Thank you so much for sharing!
anna473 wrote 62 months ago:
Thank you for sharing! I got lost in your story. Well done on learning to walk again!
oohmercyme wrote 62 months ago:
*LOVE* You sir, ROCK!
Lisa6206 wrote 62 months ago:
Oh my! What a great post! Congratulations on " Learning to Walk Again" Hoss! What a beautiful NSV, and a beautiful blog post! As for career paths, I think you should write as your second job. High FIVE! =0)
Allie_71 wrote 62 months ago:
Beautiful :)
Wol5894 wrote 62 months ago:
Beautiful - and, for me, very poignant, since I am having to learn to walk again, not so much because of weight but because of arthritis in my feet (yes, feet!). You've been to the woods - how about a walk in the hills? If you do, then DO come back and describe that as well - your descriptive writing is wonderful.
tonicandgin wrote 62 months ago:
So beautiful xo
tonicandgin wrote 62 months ago:
So beautiful xo
Cherry_blossom73 wrote 62 months ago:
Thank you for sharing, I needed this today.
Ladyiianae wrote 62 months ago:
and again you keep inspiring me to not give up. Hoss you are amazing and I thank God you are my friend. I may not need to learn to walk again but I sure as hell need to re-learn how to live. Thank you so much, for everything.
pkw58 wrote 62 months ago:
Thank you for this post
IntoTheSky wrote 62 months ago:
You are so wonderful, Hoss. Thank you for reminding us all to keep going.
oregonzoo wrote 62 months ago:
love as always
WinnerVictorious wrote 62 months ago:
long walks are under-rated. i try to do 6 mile walks every other day. you can burn alot of calories and there is no real soreness or recovery time when you're done, like there may be with jogging/running due to the impact on your knees and ankles, not to mention shin splints. when you're really heavy, this is really the ideal cardio. the only downside is that you need the time to do it. jogging/running gets you finished much faster, but if you can find somebody to walk with, walking allows you to have a conversation while getting in your calorie burn.
elenathegreat wrote 62 months ago:
Love to love you, Hoss-baby. You continue to be an inspiration and a source of hope:)
MaryBBrown wrote 62 months ago:
You are SUCH a good writer! I love this one. Hats off to you, Hoss!
2abnorth wrote 62 months ago:
You are such a talented writer! So beautifully written, felt like I was right there with you. The beauty you found in the walk, is portrayed in your blog. Thank you for sharing this small piece. Makes me feel very inspired, and happy for you!
Lyndelee wrote 62 months ago:
Loved this piece, Hoss. You have an amazing talent and you are on an amazing journey. I have learned the true art of living through my own journey, as well. I never, ever, EVER want to go back to that pain, torture and misery again. I WANT TO LIVE!!!
RunningMom09 wrote 62 months ago:
This post is AMAZING, and so are YOU!
batdad2k12 wrote 62 months ago:
Fantastic. When I was single, I would hike in a state park near me in Alabama. Now since I am married, I rarely get to go for a walk much less a hike in a park. It was never a major hike strictly to be out in the woods, like you described. Thank you. This makes me want to go for walk this weekend, weather permitting. To experience some of the things you mentioned.
You really should consider putting together a book, even a short one. You are a good writer.
jdhosier wrote 62 months ago:
Your post made me joyful today. Thanks for shining a light on the joy of something so simple.
Alicia7519 wrote 62 months ago:
This is so beautiful. I was so down today, but then I read your blog. I am getting off of my pity pot right now!
Rhonnie wrote 62 months ago:
Life is so beautiful when we take time to appreciate it! Well done!
brendacooks wrote 62 months ago:
Great post! Inspirational and lovely to read. Thanks for sharing - and good work on the walking!
sassytoadegree wrote 62 months ago:
reading your story really reminded me of the day i first started, i could only walk 5 houses down the street and back and my back burned my shoulders ached, but that was where i started, now walking is so fun for me and im so happy in my new life. Im glad im not alone. You should be so proud of yourself, you did a wonderful job!
made2wonder wrote 62 months ago:
You write beautifully. Thanks for letting us take a walk in your shoes.
marrizia wrote 62 months ago:
Such a beautiful post, Hoss... I too got lost in the story. Congratulations, friend
ChangingDad wrote 62 months ago:
This is awesome Hoss. Congratulations and what an inspiring story. Thank You for remininding us how much perseverance pays off.
trailgirl777 wrote 36 months ago:
i loved this post because I am at the beginning...the part with pain with each step and afraid to fall. Using sheer will to make it thru such a small distance. My goal is to one day hike and it is nice to read someone was successful on that journey.

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