Last month, Michelle and I were at the Be Mobile End of Summer Photo Walk and one of the organizers asked me to talk about CameraWalking! Needless to say, we were happy to do so. I told them about our mission and added that CameraWalking was Michelle’s brainchild after she watched me lose 65 pounds walking with my camera. When I finished the group of 100 or so, cheered!
That was a bit surprising to us, but it helped me appreciate that all of us want to celebrate a good story, a story of getting healthy. It resonates with people. We are exposed, almost daily, to the increasing amount of research citing the benefits of walking: cutting the risk of diabetes, heart disease, breast cancer, hypertension etc. and yet many of us are not moved to action.
We decided that perhaps it was time to tell my story. I have been reluctant to do so, because we want CameraWalking to be about all of you not about us, but that experience at the Sculpture Park in Seattle changed my mind.
In my lifetime, I have gained and lost so many pounds, too many to count. Three years ago I was at my highest weight. I wasn’t exercising much, but I had discovered photography and was beginning to enjoy exercise again. Then one morning in November, after a long morning walk, I ended up in urgent care with racing heart palpitations, cardiac arrhythmia. Although not life threatening, it is very debilitating and not knowing what will trigger an episode is frustrating. While lying there waiting for my heart to return to a reasonable pace, I realized that I didn’t want to be there again. The doctor gave me a sheet of instructions including: lose weight, eat a low-fat diet, avoid caffeine, etc; in other words, focus on a healthy lifestyle. That afternoon I joined WeightWatchers, dumped the caffeine and was off to new possibilities.
With my new-found commitment to health and fitness, I embraced walking. It was late fall and the weather in Seattle can be iffy at best, but I got myself out the door every day by taking my camera with me. A cold, rainy, boring walk was transformed into an opportunity to explore. I ventured out looking for interesting things to capture and share with my friends. Some mornings, when I needed to be efficient with my time, I carried my iPhone. On weekends, I took my Canon 60D and found myself walking for 90 minutes or more!
A month later, after losing 10 pounds and walking daily, I happily reported my success to my cardiologist, who congratulated me. She encouraged me to keep going with my new habits and that I stay committed to my goals. A few months later, I had a cardiac ablation procedure and my heart problem was gone… and my healthy life changes continued. Eighteen months later I had lost 65 pounds by combining healthy eating and walking with my camera. A very unexpected thing happened as well – I became a passionate photographer! I have allowed the creativity, the artist in me, to emerge, which gives me such pleasure and psychic rewards. All because I started walking with a camera!
So that is my story. When I tell it to people, they say, “Oh, I need to lose weight too, but it is so hard.” It can be. I certainly know from my own experience that it can be. For me, looking up from that gurney, with wires connected to me, allowed a different vision to emerge – one of being healthy, moving with my camera, and exploring the world. That is what did it for me and still does to this day.
Motivation and will power can only carry us so far when we want to make a major change such as losing weight, getting more exercise, etc. There really is no way around the fact that making a life long change means changing behaviors. It can be easier, according to B.J. Fogg at Stanford University, if we get specific (target the change), make it easy (simplicity changes behaviors), and trigger the behavior. Take a look at his TedxFremont talk. It is worth investing 16 minutes of your time. It might just be what you need to get started.
Thank you for reading my story. I hope you find some inspiration and will go over to our site, CameraWalking, for resources and ideas on you can get out on a daily walk with your camera to achieve better health, fitness and creativity. Share your stories with us by commenting here, on our Facebook Page, or send us an email at get firstname.lastname@example.org! We would love to hear from you.