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Food and Fitness -- One Woman's Journey

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I've been walking for years now and find that although I've tried just about every exercise out there, walking remains my favorite -- although it was one I came to slowly.

At 21, I was overweight and reluctant to look at myself in the mirror and blame my eating habits. In those days, only taste mattered. I loved to eat waffles with syrup, sugary cereals, pancakes, fried chicken, you name it. I remember the days when I would sit and eat two waffles loaded with syrup and then go back for seconds. Sometimes I ate two plates full of spagetti. Eventually, my eating took its toll and at my 28th birthday party, a guest asked me if I was 35. She apologized later but that statement really opened my eyes.

I started walking the very next day. At first I walked just in the neighborhood streets for 30 minutes and it made me very tired. Every two weeks, I increased the distance -- two streets, then three, then four and it went on. Pretty soon I graduated to the main street. I walked the length of the long street marking my territories by the stop signs and traffic signals. After a year I was walking neighborhoods by the grid style. I made my way between major streets by the mile and graduated to three to four miles. While I kept a mellow pace, I didn't press myself to walk any faster than I could and enjoyed the walks very much.

Then another eye-opening moment occurred. A friend told me no matter how much I walked, I wouldn't be able to reach my goal weight. She told me I needed to stop increasing the distance and start increasing the speed. I resisted her suggestion and went on as I did before.

Eventually, however, I realized I needed to kick up my workout if I wanted to fight diabetes and heart disease, and after some time joined a gym and started taking aerobics. The gym's trainer told me that I need to determine which type of exercise worked for me. According to her, each person has his or her preference for different kinds of exercise depending on how their body and mind react to that particular exercise.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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