*Caution: RAMBLING AHEAD. Just thinking with my fingers here.*
One bad thing about working a desk job (at least for me) is that you spend 8 hours a day on your butt, craving Twix and Almond Joys. Coming from 6 years of often literally running around during my workday (5 years washing cars all day at Budget Rent-A-Car, and 1 year of running around on the sales floor of Best Buy), my body took a bit of a nose dive after a year and a half or so of sitting. I went from a healthy 165lbs (for my ~6ft frame) to a pretty pudgy 200lbs. Suddenly my 32" pants were unbearable and a move up to 34" waistlines was in order. I didn't try to blame big bones, or 'muscle weight', I called it what it was; fat. One day I decided that I was sick of that pile of goo in the mirror, and decided to do something about it.
So where to start?.... I know! I will diet! Unfortunately this was just about the time that I was falling in love with cooking. Try as I might, cooking healthy was not yet something within my repertoire. A simple search of my food related posts shows that my priority in food is TASTE, not health. The only thing that I conceded to eating healthier was ditching soda and drinking water in it's place. Not because I didn't like soda, but because it was giving me cramps when I would try to do something physical. That plain ain't right!
Well, I had to do something more than just drink water, so I decided to start hiking on weekends. I started out with little 1 mile hikes which made my legs feel like Jello. Eventually I got used to these and started branching out. I bought a book of trails in the Prescott area, and started taking the dog with me. Pretty soon we were doing 5-8 miles a trip. I found I didn't like hiking for the pain it gave me (I'm no masochist), but more for the simple fact that I got away from the press of people and stress and could just get out on a quiet trail, look for pretty pictures to take, and generally try as hard as I could to forget the burning in my lower half.
Another thing I started doing was walking around town on my lunch hour. I know this sounds simple, but it is a great way to get out of the office, as well as burn a few calories. Again, I started out small, going maybe 1 mile round trip to the bank, or just going down the back-alleys of downtown. Pretty soon though, I was sick of the same ol' scenery day in and day out. I started 'stretching my legs' a bit more and going a bit further every day trying to find things that I hadn't seen yet. My mind-set kind of shifted, and I started to see it not as exercise, but simply as a way to actually SEE the world around me without feeling the stresses of daily life. The only worry I had was making sure that I got back to work within the hour. Soon I was walking 3-4 miles round trip in a single hour. Even with long legs this is about as far as I can go in the timeframe without actually jogging, and it definitely gets the heart-rate up.
I stopped worrying about what the weather was like, and just worried about seeing more and more. Walk for an hour in the rain w/ no umbrella? Yeah, I do that, and yes it is uncomfortable to walk with an extra 10 pounds of water attached to you. But everything that you have already seen changes in rain. The roads are different, the colors brighter, the smells dimmer. It is a whole other experience. People at work think I am nuts. Who goes out walking in 20 degree weather? The weirdo IT guy does.
Something else changed along with all of this. I no longer really care if I see a bit of pudge in the mirror. Suddenly I don't feel the need to weigh myself every week to see if I was 'back down where I should be'. I don't know that I will ever have a six-pack or ripped pecks, and I couldn't tell you what the scale would put me at right now, but I do know that after 9 months I can suddenly fit back in my 32" jeans with no trouble, and I have had to punch some new holes in the belt. The biggest thing I noticed through all of this is that I have become a happier person.