By Rev. Debbie Sperry
It all started with a walk. Ok, well, technically, it all started with the failure to walk.
A year ago, it was winter, and cold, and the sidewalks were terrible, and it was cold…really cold! Have I mentioned that? And I do fine getting out when the weather is nice, but when it’s terrible, I struggle. My daily steps were regularly around 4500 or 5000, and while I knew I could do better, I wasn’t. My Virgin Pulse app kept urging me to get up and move more. My Fitbit buzzed at me every hour to complete my 250 steps per hour, and my own desire to be healthier gnawed at me. But still, I failed to walk (enough anyway…more than here to there…but to actually take a walk). I faulted the weather, or my busyness, all kinds of things. It might sound crazy but finding 20-30 minutes to exercise felt impossible.
At home I have little people (now 3 and 7), and they like to do things. In particular, the littlest likes to go see the horses a couple blocks away. So, we’d load up in the stroller and take a walk to see the horses. And I’d get in about 1200 steps. And one day it dawned on me that if I did that twice a day, I could reach my daily goal of 7000 steps. Getting to the horses and back only took about seven minutes round trip. And I really could spare seven minutes (even twice in one day).
The Formation committee of the PNW Board of Ordained Ministry is excited to be offering a series of web-based clergy wellness workshops! Click here to learn more about the first class taught by Rev. Brad Beeman.
So I started walking, just a 1000 extra steps here and then 1000 more later. And then we went a little farther and a little farther. After a few months of solidly surpassing my goal of 7000 steps, I moved my daily goal to 7500, then 8000. I wasn’t going crazy distances, mostly to a park for the kids to play a bit, or to the horses and back, or up a little further. But every day it got easier. And then it became routine. I no longer had to force myself or carve out time. It became a part of the day—a welcome part of the day—a necessary part of the day. I found on my walks that my thoughts would disentangle and my body started to loosen, both from the stretching afterward and from the walking itself.
Now, nearly 10 months in, I yearn for the disentanglement, the mental freedom, so to speak, to help me work through the day or process particular stresses. And I’ve noticed I’m a better person when I get out. I’m kinder. I’m more patient. Somehow the steps help me release some of the bad energy that builds up from ministry, parenting, marriage, and life in general. And I like being a better person, and I’m fairly certain my family likes it too. In fact, I’m sure of it because my husband is more than happy to watch the kids, so I can go exercise! Everybody benefits.
Rev. Debbie Sperry serves as pastor to Moscow First United Methodist Church in Moscow, Idaho.