Welcome to I Tried It Month, where we'll be publishing a new fashion, beauty, or wellness article every day in January that features a first-person account of shaking up an old habit, pushing beyond a comfort zone, or simply trying something new. Follow along for 31 days of storytelling, including everything from going without a cell phone for 40 days to trying the polarizing low-rise pant trend.
When the clock strikes midnight on January 1, I ask myself the same daunting question, How am I going to improve/make this year better than the last? Well, 2022 made the answer to that question very easy because it happens to be the year I get married. With wedding planning well underway, I made myself a promise to focus on my health this year—not just so I can look ridiculously good in my wedding dress but also to start my next phase of life on the right foot. I wasn't quite ready to bench 200s, but I wanted to do something to get my body moving again, so when researching low-impact workouts, I came across walking and knew I had to give it a shot.
How I Prepared
When it comes to walking, there wasn't much for me to prepare for physically. I mean, haven't we been doing it since we were 1? It was more of a mental thing for me. You see—when I started my challenge, I was lucky enough to be visiting L.A., so I had warm weather and sunshine as well as a change of scenery. But I live on the East Coast, where it's peak winter. It was going to be cold, and I needed to mentally prepare myself to freeze my butt off during my walks. So when I got back home, I pulled out my warmest jackets: parkas, puffers, shackets… You name it.
I was going to be walking a mile every day, so I knew I needed to be warm and needed to be comfortable. While I love a good excuse to dress up, I kept my walking attire pretty casual. For the most part, I threw on my favorite sweat set and a pair of comfy shoes. Other times, I wore jeans and a pair of sneakers.
While getting my body moving again was my main goal, I also really wanted to use this time to improve my mental health. I wanted to use my walks to disconnect from the hustle and bustle. When I first made my commitment, I thought it was going to be easy—20 to 30 minutes each day, that's it. That's easier said than done. I work full-time, and it can get hectic. I found myself worrying that work was going to consume so much of my day that I wasn't going to be able to do it. But what really helped was setting boundaries. Unless urgent, the work could wait. I set an hour block on my calendar during the workweek—30 minutes for my walk, 30 minutes for lunch. I snoozed my Slack notifications, closed my laptop, popped my headphones in, and headed outside.
Since I started my walk while I was visiting L.A., I used it as an opportunity to explore. I walked around Melrose and Downtown L.A. and even spent an entire day at Disneyland, where I surpassed my one-mile goal with flying colors. But back home on the East Coast, I live in a quiet suburban neighborhood. I spent day after day walking my backyard or circling my block, getting bored of seeing the same houses and surroundings.
It took me a bit, but I realized my goal was to walk a mile every day. That didn't mean I had to walk at the same place, nor did I have to do it alone. I still spent most of my days walking around my neighborhood by myself, but occasionally, I would change it up. I invited my fiancé on a few walks, where we spent time connecting and talking about wedding plans or just about life in general. When we were able to, we walked around our local park soaking in nature. We even walked around the mall a few times. After a mall trip, I was surprised to find that I had unknowingly walked 1.3 miles. Walking in and out of stores is cardio, and no one can tell me otherwise.
The Results and Benefits
Surprisingly enough, it didn't hit me until I was two weeks into my walking routine that this challenge—while being a physical one—was proving beneficial for my mental health above all. I considered my walks alone a free therapy session. If work was a little stressful, I'd take my walk to remind myself not to let it get to me. I'd pop in my AirPods and listen to music that would boost my mood or listen to a podcast that made me laugh. I live in a full house with family, which can be overwhelming, so I also took my walks as a form of escape. Silence is nice sometimes when everything around you seems so loud.
I wasn't expecting to lose 10 pounds in a month, but my walks made me feel infinitely better from a physical perspective. Like many others, I spent all of 2020 stuck in my house or at my desk. Walking regularly made me feel less guilty about spending hours in my office chair and gave me the boost of energy I needed during my afternoon slump.
While this wasn't quite the HIIT workout I needed to help me shed the pre-wedding pounds, what I didn't lose physically I gained much more in terms of my mental health. It changed my perspective on how I spend my days and really gave me an opportunity to take time to focus on my personal needs. And for that, I can't recommend walking every day enough.
The Products and Gear I Used for My Walks
My fiancé bought me the Run Stars for Christmas, and I'm obsessed. I've always loved classic Converse sneakers, but the downside was they were so flat-soled, so after about an hour, my feet were killing me. These shoes are the perfect combo of trendy and comfortable.
I've given up on wearing skinny jeans for the foreseeable future after investing in a few pairs of 501s from Levis. On days I found myself wearing jeans on my walks, I always gravitated toward these. They're so comfortable, and the number of washes they come in makes it all the better. Pro tip: If you're short like me, opt for the cropped length.
The coveted Align leggings, there's a reason why these are one of Lululemon's best sellers. They're so comfortable and so soft—perfect for those long walks.