60-year-old Karen Holme from Nottingham was stressed-out, self-conscious and unhappy with her weight. But 951 miles into her 1000 she tells us how walking has changed her life.
My low point began when we moved to Nottingham from Chandler's Ford in Hampshire. I loved it there and loved my job. But moving to Nottingham meant a change in job to frontline social work. I hated it. Emotionally it took its toll. I also lost my mum and my two beloved dogs. Things just seemed to get worse, my children left home now they were adults. So I spent most of time comfort eating and getting stressed. I was so self conscious about my body and weight. I spent too much time beating myself up and getting stressed over little things.
I changed jobs a few times but it didn't help. My health was suffering, I had high blood pressure, knee problems and kept getting out of breath. I'd be lucky if I could walk half a mile. The GP told me I was compromising my health suggested I see a dietician and take anti depressants. I took on board what she said but declined the medication.
Instead I found walking was the best treatment. It was certainly baby steps at first but I joined a slimming group too and with the determination to once and for all sort myself out mentally and physically the weight started to come off. Gradually I dropped several sizes in clothes. Walking became my lifesaver. I gradually got fitter physically and mentally.
I took up mindfulness and combined with walking it really helps my anxiety. It hasn't been easy as life likes to chuck in few curve balls from time to time. But I have always walked through it all. The 1000 mile challenge came at the right time for me and has been brilliant in respect of motivation. I pleased I'm nearly there with this but it won't stop there. My intention is to attempt more challenging terrain like hills and mountains. That requires a different approach.
Now I just love being outdoors and walking. It has been so good for my mental health. And practising mindfulness along the way helps to appreciate the simpler things in life. I've also changed to working freelance, which means more time for walking.
Now I feel good about myself and accept things without as much worry. If I feel low now I just get out, walk the dog, walk on my own and sometimes take my camera. And now I can kee up with my grandchildren!
#walk1000miles community is a brilliant community. So supportive and I love seeing all the places people visit. Everyone seems to respect each other's story and what they've achieved. I would encourage anyone to join. Take one step at a time. Learn that each achievement whether it's weight related, managing an illness or mental health issue is to take things at your own pace. But you have be the only one responsible for that shift in attitude and action. However being part of a community if you need support you won't be alone. Reach out their are people out there who can help. Community works!