64. The Walk and Talk Diet

64. The Walk and Talk Diet

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Curvy & Confident

The Walk and Talk Diet

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”

~C.S. Lewis

I met my friend Tina while we were both prying our screaming sons off our legs for their first day of kindergarten. She looked a lot like me — hair pulled back into a ponytail, T-shirt and comfy pants, with a little extra padding.

We realized we were experiencing our first taste of freedom with our youngest sons in school. “Would you like to go for a walk?” was my creative pick-up line. She fell for it, and that began the walk that launched a thousand walks, and the start of our “Walk and Talk Diet.”

We were two chubby young moms, desperate for exercise and the few hours of freedom that having kids in school allowed us.

Over the past ten years Tina and I have walked twice a week, the same long neighbourhood route, after getting our kids off to school. Our walk is about 4.5 kilometres and ends at the local McCafé with a coffee reward for our labours (and sometimes a muffin to go with it). We figure we walk about 500 kilometres a year, or 83,2000 steps (according to our Fitbits). This adds up to almost 5,000 kilometres over ten years. (Please don’t check my math, it’s not my strong point!)

We walk through the heat, snow, ice, mud, and PMS. The Walk and Talk Diet hasn’t really given us sleek svelte shapes, but it has improved our lives in so many other ways.

In the beginning, we were both desperate to lose the baby fat we’d gained having kids — especially now that our youngest were five years old. Over the years, one or both of us has been on some sort of diet to lose weight. We’ve walked through the “Cleansing Diet,” the “800 Calorie Diet,” the “Starve and Be Miserable Diet,” and the “Just Eat and Be Happy Diet.”

We tried weighing ourselves each week and throwing five dollars into a pot. The one who lost the most weight would get the money. Tina lost a pound or two, and used the money for a weekend away where she raved about the food for weeks.

We often talk about recipes. It’s smart to discuss food when you’re out walking and not even close to your refrigerator. Tina loves to eat at restaurants and sometimes our entire walk entails long descriptions of her latest dinner. “You should have seen the garlic pasta with roasted chicken dripping with mozzarella cheese and fresh herbs . . . and the thickest yogurt raspberry smoothies! For dessert, chocolate blondie sundaes dripping with caramel and chocolate sauce!”

The Walk and Talk Diet is about fresh air and exercise, friendship, and a counseling session all rolled into one.

By the time I get home I am ravenous!

The truth is, we started out walking as chubby young moms determined to get fit, and we’re still walking as chubby middle-aged moms, but we are much more content with ourselves.

The Walk and Talk Diet is about fresh air and exercise, friendship, and a counseling session all rolled into one. Between the two of us, we have seven kids, and we’ve walked and talked each other through many years of issues — someone is always getting into trouble, graduating, and getting married. Her wisdom has kept me from offering up my kids for adoption many times.

We’ve walked through renovations on both our houses, turning forty, motorcycle lessons and accidents, husbands’ illnesses and job losses, and being the generation between our teenagers and aging parents.

One day Tina decided we needed to start running. We invested in matching yoga pants and jackets (much to my teenage daughter’s embarrassment), and decided to run from one telephone pole to the next, walk to the next pole and then run again at the next. That run from the first telephone pole to the next was the most excruciating marathon in the universe! That was the extent of our running career and we resorted to walking again.

What began as a simple walk has now turned into a necessity, a vital part of our lives. As the kids head out the door, we meet and begin our trek through the neighbourhood. As an added benefit, we see things others miss: Houses that are doing interesting renovations, teenagers skipping school, dogs running loose. If you give us an address, we can give you a full rundown of the type of house, who we think lives there and any exterior improvements we would make.

We live in a small town and are often recognized with horn honks, waves or people saying “I see you out walking a lot . . .” I hope we’re not becoming one of the town characters that everyone knows about, like “The man who walks through town singing opera,” or “The lady with the giant red hat who rides her pink bike in the middle of the road.”

We’re probably known as “The Chubby Twin Walkers — who have walked for years, but still look the same size.”

One Christmas Eve, it was our regular Monday to walk, and we were both at home swamped with last minute cookie baking and toy wrapping. I got a frantic call: “Lori, can we PLEASE walk today?” We piled on our warmest coats, trudged through the snow and collapsed in front of the fake fireplace at McCafé, happy to ignore our “to-do lists” at home.

In recent years we talk more about acceptance, gratitude, and of not worrying about the numbers on the scale. One day, as we walked, I looked over at Tina and confessed, “You know, I wouldn’t like you any better if you were skinny. I like you just the way you are.” After she slugged me in the arm, she admitted, “I like you chubby, too.” Over the years of walking and probably about fifty different diets, we realized a great truth. Our size didn’t matter to our friendship. We were growing to accept who we were as women, and as friends. We were making peace with the bodies we had been given. Maybe if our diets had worked in the beginning, we would have stopped walking together.

The Walk and Talk Diet is for everyone. All you need is a comfy pair of shoes and a friend who likes to walk and talk (or listen, depending on which one of you has the gift of gab). Tina has heard the worst parts of my life, and walked me — literally — through some very emotional times. I can’t imagine my life without our walks.

I hope that in another ten years when all our kids have grown and left the nest, Tina and I will still be on our Walk and Talk Diet. I’m sure by then we will have walked ourselves through a lot more of life’s ups and downs. Maybe we will even have lost a pound or two, but that doesn’t really matter, now, does it?

~Lori Zenker

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