How did you start?

I didn't know how to get the motivation to get started. I really didn't want to start with my eating habits. It was harder trying not to do the "don'ts" than to do the "dos," so I decided to do physical activity. So I started walking.


What was your routine?

Walking was my major work out. I would get up every morning before my kids and my husband and walk for about fifteen minutes. Gradually I built up more stamina and was able to walk longer, up to an hour. I guess I covered about 3.9 miles in one hour, walking briskly. I started to loose weight and feel better. I was able to do other things. It wasn't so hard to do the housework or to play with the kids. I had more energy to get my day started.


Has walking increased your energy for other things?

It's easy for me to do other physical activity now, like play games or sports. Before, I had no energy or desire to do those kinds of things. Now, I can do little things like park farther away at the grocery store and walk. I take the steps instead of the elevator. It's easier for me to do it because I have the energy. I do things with my kids. They are involved in swimming and dance class and I can practice with them now and go to their events. I volunteer to help in those classes. I feel so much better overall . I have much more energy. I'm not really doing any kind of program but walking. I can do more around my house. I even have a garden now. I'm real active outside and I believe it's due to increasing my physical activity.


How did you find time to do physical activity?

In the beginning, it was kind of rough for me to find a suitable time to do my exercise. Having a family and working every day made it difficult to get it all together. I tried several different times of day to do the walking. I started at night. I noticed if there was anything wrong however, I wouldn't get it done. I decided to do it in the morning.


Did you have a support group?

A group of my neighbors and friends decided to walk together. We all support each other. If I don't wake up, maybe somebody will call me or I'll call them. If it's bad weather outside, we might go to the mall. We can still do this everyday.

I believe having my friends and neighbors walking as a group has helped me, occasionally, get motivated to go. I could talk to myself and say "Okay, it's time to get up and go walking." I notice if I miss a day of walking, I'm kind of dragging the whole day. I notice when I start with physical activity in the morning, my whole day goes a lot smoother. That's enough reward for me right there.


What do you see as the benefits of your physical activity?

In the beginning, my intentions were to do this to help me lose weight. I noticed as time went on and I was losing, I just liked the way it made me feel. I decided this is something I need to do for the rest of my life, just to help me feel better, to maintain the weight that I did lose and to help my day get started.

It's also a great stress reliever for me. It's a time I can think about different things, help me get my thoughts organized so I can start the day. I need to do this forever. I'm just a lot happier. I'm not so stressed out about things. I'm just more relaxed. I think it's all due to exercising in the morning.


Did your family benefit from your lifestyle changes?

My family was supportive of me when I was heavy. I don't think they realized any kind of physical activity or moving would help. I think they thought like me--I need to do some kind of structured program. I've made a difference in a lot of my family member's lives. They see now that just taking a walk around the block or just eating better would help. I'm an example. A lot of my family members have started walking and doing things. They call me all the time and ask me questions. I just told them, in the beginning, yes, all I did was walk. Walking led to other things because of the energy I got from walking.


Do you see this physical activity change as a total lifestyle change?

I believe walking did lead to other things as far as physical activity is concerned. Any time you do any kind of physical activity, it in turn will give you more energy. When you have more energy, you can do more. Now, it's hard for me to just sit on the couch and watch TV. There is always something I can be doing around the house - vacuuming, cleaning, washing or folding clothes. It's not so hard to mow the grass or rake the leaves or pick up sticks or work on my garden. Before I wouldn't even have a garden or mow grass. I would pay a little boy down the street to do that for me. Now I look at it as another way to get in some physical activity. My kids are more physically active because they are outside playing and riding their bikes or trying to help me with my garden. They like to work in the garden and we all work together. I think that's promoting physical activity for them. I want them to learn at this age why it's important to stay physically active. They see that it pays to be more physically active. They see that I get up every morning and go walking. They know this is a part of my life now They know because of that, I am able to do more things with them. I think it's a benefit for all of us.