I walk every day. Each day, for 30 minutes, that’s it. Thousands of you have joined me since that Sunday night on March 18, 2012, when, as a joke, I said I was going for a walk. I had read that morning in the paper that there were now more people in the U.S. on anti-depressants than those who go to the movies. I tweeted out that maybe that’s the problem — perhaps if people got out and went to the movies more they might feel better. This unleashed a lively conversation about mood-aletering drugs, the lousy movies these days in theaters, the rip-off prices for 3D films, etc. Finally, someone wrote: “Sometimes I think what I need is just a brisk walk.” I tweeted, “Hey, there’s an idea! I’m putting my shoes on right now.” I went out and came back home after 30 minutes — and a few hundred of you had amazingly joined me where you live. So I went walking the next night, probably out of some sort of obligation because so many had written to say “please let’s do it again tonight!” So I did. And the night after that. By the end of the week it was hard to determine how many thousands were now going out with me on these “virtual walks” in hundreds of cities and towns, but it had taken off like a rocket and so we all went walking every night from that point on.
Now it’s over two years later. What a simple, great idea that person had! Some have asked, “Why are we walking?” “What’s the cause?” There is no cause other than to go for a walk. We do it just because it feels good. We do it because we can. We do it because it’s free and it takes no time. All you need to know is how to put one foot in front of the other (or, for the disabled who’ve joined in, by any means necessary). It’s the perfect slacker/schlub activity.
I am often asked “How much weight have you lost from all this walking?” For a while I didn’t understand the question. I mean, why would I want to lose anything? I have enough trouble finding my keys! Then I got it — skinny people (1/3 of the country) want us, the majority, to be like them. That’s so nice of them.
But the truth is, exercise does not work, diets do not work, feeling crummy does not work. Nothing works. My advice: Quit trying to be something you’re not, be happy with the life you’ve been given, and just go for a pleasant walk outside. With me. Wherever you are. Get off the treadmill, stop drinking diet Coke, throw out all the rules. It’s all a scam and it conspires to keep you miserable. If it says “low-fat” or “sugar-free” or “just 100 calories!” throw it out. Remember, one of the main tenets of capitalism is to have the consumer filled with fear, insecurity, envy and unhappiness so that we can spend, spend, spend our way out of it and, dammit, just feel better for a little while. But we don’t, do we? The path to happiness – and deep down, we all know this — is created by love, and being kind to oneself, sharing a sense of community with others, becoming a participant instead of a spectator, and being in motion. Moving. Physically moving around all day. Lifting things, even if it’s yourself. Going for a walk every day will change your thinking and have a ripple effect. You’ll find yourself only eating when you’re truly hungry. And if you’re not hungry, go clean your room, or have sex, or call a friend on the phone. Without knowing it, you’ll start eating like the French (there is no French word for “fast-food”) — and you will feel better. You do not feel better admonishing yourself or beating yourself up or setting up a bunch of unrealistic rules and goals with all the do’s and dont’s that are just begging to be broken. You wanna know something? I eat ice cream every friggin’ day. I drink a regular Coke every single day. I put butter on things. But I also walk every day. Some days now, I walk twice. And now I’ve started to do some push-ups and lifting stuff. It’s building muscle, and in doing so, has created an extra furnace to burn stuff and create energy. Weird! That, in turn, makes me sleep 7-8 hours a night which is another game-changer. And all the walking and lifting makes me thirsty, so that makes me drink more water — another huge plus!
So, something for me has changed. I have no idea how much weight I’ve lost and I don’t care. I don’t care about that or diets or home gym equipment or rules about what I can or cannot eat or anything other than making sure I go on my walk today. That’s it. That’s the big secret. It costs nothing. I feel great. I can see my feet! There they are! Hello, feet! Wanna go for a walk? The feet say YES! Ask yours right now. And if you want, join me. But do NOT go on that walk with me if you are doing so to “get fit”, “be healthy”, or “lose weight”. You are fine just the way you are. Only walk outside with me right now because you know it might just feel good, or because it’s a beautiful day, or because the fresh air is invigorating, or you have to drive down to the drug store but you realize you can walk there instead — or simply because it’s just nice to be alive for one more day. Walk to walk and nothing else — and the other stuff will take care of itself.
I’m heading outside in an hour. Join me. And let me know how it went! Use the hashtag #walkwithmike and I’ll occasionally post notes or pix from your walks on this page.
Thanks, and enjoy the walk.