A Walk in The Park

This is a repost from my Blogger account. I’m not a doctor, therapist or dietician. this is  my journey on less weight loss and maintenance

As I wrote about in my previous post, Jackson*( no he is not a certifed trainer, just someone who knows a lot about fitness). and I agreed to meet Monday through Friday at a park near his house for one hour. I was nervous the first as I did not know what to expect and thinking back on it now, I don’t think he did either. The most exercise I had been doing of late was ten to fifteen minutes of dancing around my room. I had managed to find an old pair of shorts and dusted off my sneakers. The sun was bright and I could smell the layers of sunscreen I had slathered on just minutes beforehand. Nervously I crunched the water bottle in my hand as I waited for him to come. I was early, I’m always early, especially when I am nervous or trying something new.

That first day was not bad, seeing we were still figuring out how this would work. Jackson* needed to see where I was at. He handed be one pound weights to hold and off we went around the park. Side Note: He asked me to buy three pound weights at one point and I thought I had since the box said 3 pounds only to discover they were 1.5 wrist weights equaling three pounds. This was something that greatly amused him and myself! The weights were to help with resistance and I used them up until 3 pounds. They were helpful for me but decide for yourself in using them during your runs or walks. His pace was faster than mine and more than once I had to jog a few steps to keep up. At one point he asked if I was walking slowly on purpose. I managed to say no while panting for breath. He grinned and then walked faster.It amused him to make me run. To my surprise (and his too I’m sure) , I showed up enthusiastically the next day. Then I kept showing up and the poor guy was stuck with me five afternoons a week!

The kind of exercises we did were not fancy or complicated. They were simple things I had learned long ago in PE and had since forgotten. My body knew what to do, often the harder part was in deciding I was going to do them. I learned I had to decided what it was I wanted to do each day before I got to the park. Getting past those mental barriers of “I can’t ” and changing them into “I can.” As I grew in confidence in what I could accomplish this became less so but let me tell you, sometimes there is a fierce battle going on in my brain. The angel and the devil on each side, one wanting to quit. The other side not wanting to quit. Also I had to learn to ignore the other people in the park and focus. Face it, so many exercises are just plain silly looking while doing the body good. You know what else, people are so into their own little worlds that really most of them are not even looking or caring about you over there doing squats.

Our routine evolved over the next few months.What follows is what we ended up doing for the most part. We began with a few laps around the park, in the beginning lots of fast paced walking with spurts of running and or jogging.
( We ended up modifying as I developed issues with my right knee not too long after starting by adding military lifts or punches to help get my heart rate up). Along certain points we would stop and do different kinds of exercise, push ups on the back of a bench, assisted squats, sit ups and bicycles. Some I preferred over others, assisted squats and later regular squats were my least favorite to do. So of course he made me do more of those
( especially since I would try to half- ass them).

It was better for me to not keep track of time. Not knowing how much longer I had out there helped me to work harder. It was better for me to be ignorant of time because otherwise that would of been my focus instead of the workout.

Soon we were running and or jogging more than walking. Then back to walking. Then back to jogging and so on it went. He knew how to push me, usually with cajoling and other times with simply stating this is what we are going to do. For the most part I was willing and I did have my moments of rebelliousness as he called them.

One day he asked if I was breathing. There was complete lack of air in my lungs, so of course I nodded yes. Then he taught me how to breath in a rhythm with my steps. This was a revelation for me. I tried to recall if any of my PE Teachers ever taught us to breath. Perhaps I had been daydreaming ( as I still often do) but I could not. Not long after,with his coaxing I finally ran one lap around the park without stopping. I still cherish that moment. That’s when I knew I could do more. More importantly wanted to do more.

He loaned me a stationary bike for me to use at night and on weekends. I was doing two a days for a while, days at the park, evenings and weekends on the bike. This was my life for a few months, it was my main focus. I was determined. Some would say that was too much. Some would of quit once their knee began to kill them as mine did. Once the weight began to drop off and I became stronger, the pain in my knee subsided.

After a few months, Jackson* was there less and less until I was on my own. In fact he had started to help another friend and he started working with the both of us, poor guy was exhausted! I showed up in the beginning because I knew he would be showing up. It was not long until I was showing up for myself. I had succeeded in my first goal, I could get up a flight of stairs without losing my breath. Then my goal became to run more laps around the park ( about less than half a mile around). Then I decided I wanted to run a half marathon.
We had begun meeting in January, by summer I had met my weight goal and began to train. Something I have done unofficially, clocking in at just under two hours at the same park where it all began. I hope to enter a race officially by the end of this year.

Update: I later discovered my measurement of the park was incorrect, so this first half was closer to a 12k. I ran my official half in February of this year clocking in at 3 hours 22 min. You can read about it here http://lindaconnelly.WordPress./and-let-us-run-with-perseverance

I outgrew that park and began to seek out new parks. I go back every now and again just as a tune up. Jackson* gave me the tools and push I needed. I learned so much from him about exercise and persistence. He taught me that you do not need to join a gym to get healthy and to have confidence in myself. Lessons that I have applied to other aspects in my life. I still workout in a park, because that is where I like to go and seriously how can free be beat?! I am forever thankful for God placing Jackson* in my life.

As a side note, let me add this about many of my encouragers along the way. Many of whom came from the park I went to everyday. This park is located in not the greatest of neighborhoods and these people who could have been mean or harsh with me were not. They cheered me on, a few of them approaching me to help them too. So many friends and members of my family were there for me in big ways and small. All of it helped me. Support is key, there is no way to do this on your own.

I want to hear from you out there, any questions or stories of your own?

*Name has been changed per request

Disclaimer- I am not a therapist, dietitian or personal trainer- this is my personal experience

The Exercises-

Please check with your doctor and take into account any old injuries you may have before pursuing any exercise plan.

Last Year

Nothing fancy, just a lot stuff to build up muscle and stamina.

Properly stretch out, warm up and drink plenty of water.

You must walk before you run, this is not a stroll, you want to get your heart rate

For a time I was not able to run due to my knee, I learned how to do punches instead. There are other ways to get your heart rate up

Push ups, first on the back of a park bench and later on the ground. Then Squats, then back to push ups. Doing three sets of each.

Then at the next spot stopping to do sit ups (50 or more) then bicycles or scissors ( doing reps of 40) then another set of sit ups and another set of either bicycles or scissors

The park is about half mile around, two and a quarter laps is a mile. I started with 4 laps  and soon was running 10 laps a day.

Stationary bike- Depending on how I felt the day’s workout went I would do from thirty min to an hour at a good pace and playing with the resistance.

I would also do another set of sit ups and push ups

As time went on I learned how to play more with what I wanted to do or accomplish that day.


I have cut back my running to three or four times a week ( running from 3 to 5 miles) and I take a day to rest

Earlier this year I started P90x and have incorporated a lot of that into my workouts in the park too.

Find something you enjoy or can do with others. Most of all try to have fun!

Update: I have gotten into yoga in the last year and find it challenging and fun! Since the marathon this year I have not run as much distance, opting for sprints and working on my speed and strengthening exercises.  but I still get out there, five to six days a week.

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