October 15, 2010

Walk, Walk, Walk

This morning when I was helping my friend Margaret move some furniture around her house, I almost stumbled over a pair of dusty aerobics steps. “Hey,” I said, “I think Leslie has some of these things, but hers are inclined, so you don’t really have to step up, just slightly up and out.” Margaret found this extremely amusing: “Leslie this, Leslie that, Leslie says . . . you’d think you guys were really close.” “Well we are,” I said stubbornly, but laughing along with her. “She told me this morning how glad she was that I took time for myself today.” Leslie, you see, is not actually a “friend” I know to talk too; in fact, she wouldn’t know me from Eve. Leslie is Leslie Sansone, and she and I walk together three or four times a week in my living room.

I really hated exercise growing up. Exercise was not fun. It was used as punishment (go run around outside: you read too much); as humiliation (middle school P.E.: anyone for a friendly game of War?); and most importantly as prevention for, GASP!, “getting fat” (go ride your bike or you’ll grow up and get fat and no one will want to take you to dances and such). Now that I’m older, I still see how much torture and guilt exercise generates for the normal person, and it makes me sick. And it literally makes some clients sick, especially when they get struck by guilt, and—being out-of-shape—overwork themselves in the gym. So generally, I’m big on recommending swimming because it’s such good movement with so much less stress on the joints, etc. And of course, water aerobics is just mad fun. The only part I personally hate about swimming is either having to have clothes to change into, or driving home in a damp swimsuit, especially in this climate.

I also love walking, but moving to Seattle fixed that for me. To be fair, walking in Arkansas can be miserable in the in the summer, but at least you have long evenings and a cool-down at dusk where walking can be enjoyable. But no matter what the season in Seattle, rain is rain, and here it’s cold rain to the bone and all kinds of lovely gray things to look at on your promenade. Still, I realized this summer that I needed to move my body for my body’s sake, so I needed to look for something that I could do that I could both enjoy and keep up with. Leslie Sansone’s Walk Away the Pounds book caught my eye, and even though I wanted to walk-in the health benefits more than the walk-away-the-pounds benefit, I fell in love with this six-week, journal-based, down-to-earth program and the normal, positive-but-not-freaky, non-anorexic, woman-next-door-type guru who invented it.

I bought my book at our local Fred Meyer, and although I could order dvds from Leslie’s http://www.walkathome.com/, I usually get them at about a third of the cost from discount dvd websites. Frankly, I don’t think Leslie would be hurt that I purchased my dvds from another seller; as weird as it sounds, I think she really means it when she says the important thing is to do something good for yourself and “just stay in motion.” She’s client -based, and so am I, so I think I trust her more than some of these other work-out girls. Here are a few other reasons I like the Leslie Sansone Walk At Home Program so much:

1. She looks like an attractive 40-something woman. Which she is. She does not look like a plastic surgeon’s fantasy project who secretly wants to look 20 again. In other words, “regular’ people can relate to her.

2. She talks like a normal person. She has her own unpasteurized dialect, and if she’s nearly choking on the word walk (how many times can you say it while walking without needing a serious drink of water?), she never shows it.

3. She’s encouraging, but not preachy. She seems honestly more centered on health than just weight.

4. She doesn’t try to be a diet idiot: she sticks to what she knows.

5. She doesn’t try to sell you a bunch of useless crap; have good shoes, can walk.

6. Her materials are true to their levels. Beginner is beginner and advanced is advanced.

7. She isn’t lying; not only did my heart perform better in testing after her program, but we did all my measurements before and after, and I did indeed lose an average of 2.25 inches all-around.

I now can add Leslie’s Walk At Home program to my exercise recommendation list, and I feel really good about that. I know that my clients cannot hurt themselves doing it, especially since she regularly tells walkers to “slow down at any time” because “as long as you stay in motion, you’re doing something good for your body.” My only complaint would be that I prefer her solo dvds to the ones where she walks with a group of people. Why? Because she talks to them a lot instead of talking only to me, and frankly, that makes me jealous. My Leslie. Maybe I am getting a little too attached? Oh, well. Daily exercise is finally fun, and I feel I owe a debt of gratitude :-)

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