Meet the walkers: Stephen
We ask walkers taking part in the Step Count Challenge why they decided to take part and what walking means to them.
Stephen won our first Step Count Champion competition in 2012, and ever since he's been a walking inspiration. Stephen shared with us how walking changed his world and why he's making an effort to walk more than ever now.
Back in 2011 walking changed and, dare I say it, saved my life. I was 354lbs, sedentary and becoming a recluse. Going to a work Christmas party took all the strength I had. I couldn’t wait to make my excuses and leave, but not before someone managed to catch me on camera, albeit with a fake smile. Seeing this photograph set in motion a chain of events that would see me walk everywhere, lose 174lbs in a year, adopt my moniker of Howmanymiles and become a celebrated (by my mum) blogger and physical activity champion.
It also saw me crowned as the inaugural Step Count Champion, become a marathon runner, a triathlete and a try-athlete.
Ten years and one shoulder surgery later and I’m back walking, not that I ever really stopped, having regained much (but not all) of the weight and having suffered from some injuries and admittedly, some mental health struggles.
Walking has again come to my rescue.
Whether it’s connecting with nature in my local park, doing a shopping run around Battlefield and Mount Florida or hiking, covid19 restrictions permitting, with my family in the Southern Uplands and the Trossachs, it’s walking that gets my heart beating, my lungs working and my facial muscles contorting into an actual smile.
It’s walking that we do as a family. Regardless of our varying levels of fitness, it’s something we can do together, at the same pace. Add in some inclines and the more welcome declines and I can feel it in my quads, my glutes and my calves without it feeling too difficult.
With the lighter nights and the Step Count Challenge, we have committed to going for nightly walks. Nothing too strenuous and a chance to get away from our PCs (anyone else working longer days working from home?), to talk about our days and to physically prepare us for hopefully a summer walking around Scotland.
The pounds are again starting to drop, my posture is improving, climbing the stairs to bed isn’t tiring and I’m back lifting weights and thinking about servicing my bike. Ok. I'm thinking of having someone other than myself service my bike.
Walking is a gateway activity. It is one of the simplest and most accessible ways to improve your fitness, your mood and your confidence. It’s low impact and requires no special equipment, although where would we be without our pedometers (or fitness watch in my case) to count our steps and to provide us with the motivation to keep walking? I’m back finding excuses to walk to the shops and I’m going back down the stairs to check the door even though I know it’s locked.
While I hope to be back MTBing, swimming and even running again, it’s walking that has put the bounce back in my step. It’s walking that has brought me closer to nature and to my family. It’s walking that also has me blogging again. I’ll let you judge if that’s a good thing or not.
You can read more about Stephen's inspirational journey on his blog, How Many Miles.