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An Experiment of a Reluctant Walker

Today’s post isn’t about investing but about health, and one of my experiments towards the same. So you may close this window if you are not interested in reading anything here except investing. 🙂

I recently bumped into a college friend at the supermarket who told me how frustrated he was with his “fat body”.

My interest was sparked when he told me how he has “tried everything” over the years but nothing worked.

Curious, I wanted to know what “everything” was. Here’s the list as I remember it: several gym memberships, expensive personal trainers, exercise bike for home, tennis lessons, health retreats, and big weight loss targets.

Well, it didn’t take me long to discover that my friend –

  • Liked the idea of physical change more than the practical reality of creating it;
  • Had an aversion to discomfort;
  • Was awesome at excuses and denial; and
  • Didn’t persevere with anything for longer than four weeks.

I also learned that he had used his two year-old exercise bike once (it’s uncomfortable), never went back for a second tennis lesson (his back hurt) and didn’t really enjoy the gym.

In reality, it wasn’t that “nothing worked”.

It was that he didn’t work.

My Tryst with the “Nothing Worked” Theory
I can vouch for this “nothing worked” theory for I have my own experience of not working on things and then blaming things for not working out.

Take, for instance, my walking habit. I was never a consistent walker ever since I came to this busy city 13 years ago (see, I am blaming this city for my inability to continue my walking habit!).

Till about the middle of 2012, I was a reluctant walker. In fact, I was not doing much for my health and constantly blaming external factors for my “weak” body.

The reason, as I realized, was rooted in the big health targets I had set for myself.

“I will get up at 5 AM, and walk for at least one hour,” I promised myself several times over the past few years. Then there was the usual New Year resolution – “I will lose 10 kg by the end of this year.”

I bought an expensive elliptical rider for my home, expecting it to help me drastically turn my health around for the better.

In short, I started by setting up big targets. And like my college friend, I didn’t persevere with anything for longer than four weeks.

This is when I came across this book suggested by Prof. Sanjay Bakshi – “One Small Step Can Change Your Life – The Kaizen Way” by Robert Maurer.

This is a small but amazing book but talks about the big idea of “Kaizen”, which is Japanese for “taking small steps to continual improvement”.

The idea of Kaizen is to make such small changes in your life that your brain doesn’t even know you’re changing, and therefore, doesn’t get in the way.

The way I applied the Kaizen technique in my walking life was to start walking small distances at low speeds and very gradually take them up (both the distance and pace).

So I started with walking for 1 KM daily and at a pace of 5 KM/hr.

“Just 1 KM?” you may ask.

No, 1 KM “daily”! That is what I was focusing on.

I gradually took it up to 1.5 KM daily, then 2 KM, 2.5 KM, 3 KM, and then to 5 KM.

Currently, I walk between 3-5 KM daily…and it has now become an activity as easy and important as breathing to me.

The result – I feel lighter, healthier, and happier like never before.


I am still at a distance from calling myself “fit”, but I’m sure this process will take me there…gradually.

Want to Join Me On My Walking Regime?
About three months back, I started an activity on Facebook called “90-Day Walkathon”, which challenged members to walk for a minimum of 3 KM per day for 90 days, or 270 KM in total.

As I expected, a lot of enthusiasts joined the group and started clocking in the required walking targets for the first few days. Then, most of them dropped off.

As I ended the challenge on 5th July, just one more member was with me who crossed the 270 KM target. I went on to touch the 320 KM mark during this period. 🙂

Now, the problem I saw here was that I had set the targets as per my practice and abilities, and forgot that there may be members who had never walked in their lives, or who had been as inconsistent as I was till about two years back.

To help more people begin on the Kaizen technique of making small improvements in their health, I am starting another challenge tomorrow onward, i.e., on 15th July 2014.

It’s a “30-day Walkathon” – each member must “walk at least 1 KM daily” for the next 30 days (there is no maximum distance limit), and report his/her walking status on the group page regularly.

If you are interested, you can join the group on this page. If you are not on Facebook, you can still start the challenge from tomorrow, and report on this page 30 days from now.

Remember, the idea will be to walk at least 1 KM “daily”. That is the only way you can build a base for bigger walks – and better health – in the future (I know it works!)

If you are already a walking pro, I invite you to add your “tips for reluctant walkers” in the Comments section below.

As for the rest of the Safal Niveshak tribe, I invite you to start investing at least 10 minutes in your health…daily.

Your health, after all, if you going to be one of your biggest financial responsibilities in the future.

So start taking care of it right away…the Kaizen way.

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About the Author

Vishal Khandelwal is the founder of Safal Niveshak. He works with small investors to help them become smart and independent in their stock market investing decisions. He is a SEBI registered Research Analyst. Connect with Vishal on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Walking is fun and has its benefits. But, it does not classify as an exercise; a chore at best. I understand that the author aims to attribute his body with adjectives like “fit”, lean, strong. Walking won’t really cut it.

    • Amit, remember that I am talking here about Kaizen – taking small steps to continual improvement. And this is for people who wish to “start” taking care of their health. So walking won’t make you strong…but gradually you can expect to become fit due to its amazing benefits.

  2. Lloyd pinto says:

    Hi Vishal,

    Eeriely similar story. Saw sanjay bakshi’s post. Picked up the same book on kaizen and decided to walk 10000 steps a day. The only additional investment I made was getting the fitbit flex. Its a fitness tracker..a glorified step counter if you may. Though not necessary but ive found it an extremely useful motivator to ensure that I am meeting my daily goals.

  3. Walking is fun, low cost and easy (sort of) exercise. It’s definitely good initiative to start at least something rather than just sitting or sleeping 🙂
    But in order to be really fit (in fact, turn around the health), there is no substitute for weight training and cardio exercises (running, jogging, hill climbing, treadmill, bicycle riding, etc. whatever you like). Once you build the necessary motivation to keep going, go for wait training. You will feel even more happier and enthusiastic than ever.

    Till then….Happy Walking (along with Happy Investing)!!!

  4. This is a very good initiative from Vishal for the people who have done very little exercise. The key for successful walking and the road to good health is to be consistent. From my personal experience is when i started walking 3 months ago getting up from bed at 5:30 or 6 Am was bit difficult ( i wake up at 7 or 7.30). But somehow i did it and i walked for 1 to 2 km and moved to walking for 7 to 8 Kms daily. Just 10 days back i moved from walking to Jogging and have joined a group called Chennai Runners and again i was able to jog only 1 to 2 Kms but now doing 4 to 5 kms jog daily I felt so good now that even during my official tours i take my running shoes with me.

    I strongly urge people who are not doing any sort of exercise to do 1 km walk and be consistent and i bet after 10 or 15 days you guys will be walking more.

  5. Anil Kumar Tulsiram says:

    Good one Vishal….

    I was walking but it was not regular. I think buying Runtastic pro [which I bought after seeing your constant updates] had really helped me. Now I walk between 4-5 KM daily…from avg of 2-3 KM few months back…

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