The Halo EffectWritten by Michael Miller | Editor in Chief Emeritus | firstname.lastname@example.org
Walking may be one of the more underrated and least glamorized forms of exercise, but there are many songs devoted to it.
Johnny Cash gave us “Walk the Line.” Dionne Warwick advised us to “Walk On By.” Nancy Sinatra said, “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’.”
There are dozens more*, including songs about walking that do not use the word in the title. The one-hit wonders The Proclaimers, in “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles),” testified they would walk 500 miles for their girl; the Bee Gees bragged about their walking prowess in “Stayin’ Alive”; and Green Day, in “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” wails, “I walk alone, I walk alone.”
Since Sept. 1, as part of a major lifestyle change that included bariatric sleeve surgery on Sept. 18, I have walked every day, at least one mile but up to as many as four. I started at 380 pounds; as of this writing, I am just under 298 pounds, so I have left a lot of excess weight on the sidewalks and walking paths of my journey.
From the beginning, when I started talking about the decision with my primary care physician, or doctor, as I call him, I have been told and retold that exercise is the key to weight loss, in conjunction of course with watching what you eat. Since I have been living for two months on liquid medical protein with the slow reintroduction of food through such mushy treats as sugar-free applesauce, low-fat cottage cheese and baby food, the eating side is under control. Post-surgery, I have about 15 percent of my original stomach left, so there is no real choice.
The baby food weeks were particularly challenging. I would stand in front of the shelves at Meijer, considering jars of brightly colored Gerber products like a sommelier studying a collection of fine wine. I would choose a jar, hold it up to the light and read the label, considering the color, consistency and ingredients. I do not recommend the herb chicken, but the lasagna was palatable, as were most of the vegetable flavors.
When I first started walking, even a few blocks would have me hobbling like an old dray horse trying to navigate a road filled with nails, broken glass and land mines. But with the proper shoes and an attitude blending equal parts determination and resignation, each day got better.
I bought an inexpensive pedometer and marked off paths of one, two and three miles around my neighborhood at home and around the Downtown offices of Toledo Free Press. I have met more neighbors and seen more of my town in eight weeks than I had in ten years. At home, my wife, two young sons and our little dog, too, all march along, enjoying the weather when it allows. Downtown, there is an endless stream of people to watch and traffic to dodge. I see people entering and leaving The Swamp Shop at Fifth Third Field, scurrying up and down sidewalks and keeping Downtown’s heartbeat steady.
On bad weather days, I hike a path at a local mall, weaving around shoppers and trying to keep pace with the walking seniors.
One phenomenon accompanying bariatric surgery is “The Halo Effect.” This is a ring of influence that sees people around the patient becoming more aware of their own health and taking positive action. This has been gratifyingly true in my heightened case; as I have made this journey a public story, I have heard from hundreds of people who have had the surgery, are contemplating the surgery or have someone in their lives who might need to explore the possibility. Reader support has been comforting and terrific, but I owe even more gratitude to the friends and family who have supported me in ways great and small, from checking in through texts and Facebook to actively walking with me. I will make the effort with or without a walking partner, but it does make it easier and seem to go faster while talking to someone, and my pace is usually more intense.
I knew when I started on this path that the journey would last forever. Knowing there are people walking beside me makes it more enjoyable and fun. At 82 pounds down, I am halfway to my goal. With my family, friends and “The Halo Effect,” I have faith that goal is not only attainable, it is sustainable.
As I hum to my diminishing belly as I circle the blocks, “Because you’re mine, I walk the line.”
Michael S. Miller is editor in chief of Toledo Free Press and Toledo Free Press Star. Contact him at email@example.com.
*The Walking Top 40 includes “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves, “Walk on Water” by Eddie Money, “Walk on the Wild Side” by Lou Reed, “Jesus Walks” by Kanye West, “Walking on the Sun” by Smash Mouth, “Walk This Way” by Aerosmith (with Run-DMC if you went to high school in the ’80s), “Walking on a Thin Line” by Huey Lewis and The News, “Walking in Memphis” by Marc Cohn, “Walking on Broken Glass” by Annie Lennox, “Walk the Dinosaur” by Was (Not Was), “Walk of Life” by Dire Straits and “Walk Like a Man” as suggested by The Four Seasons and Bruce Springsteen. You can be “Walking to New Orleans” with Fats Domino (who also offered “I’m Walkin’” and “I Want to Walk you Home”), “Walking on the Moon” or “Walking in Your Footsteps” with The Police, “Walk Like an Egyptian” with The Bangles, “Walk Hard” with Dewey Cox and go “Walkin’ After Midnight” with Patsy Cline. Roy Orbison, U2 and Neil Young all urged us to “Walk On.” Matt Monro, Kelly Clarkson and Five Finger Death Punch all suggested we “Walk Away.” A number of sentimental fellows, from Elvis Presley to Jerry Lewis, offer solace that “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”
Tags: Aerosmith, Annie Lennox, bariatric surgery, Bee Gees, Bruce Springsteen, Dewey Cox, Dionne Warwick, Dire Straits, Eddie Money, Elvis Presley, Fats Domino, Fifth Third Field, Five Finger Death Punch, Green Day, Huey Lewis and the News, Jerry Lewis, Johnny Cash, Kanye West, Katrina and the Waves, Kelly Clarkson, Lighting The Fuse, Lou Reed, Marc Cohn, Matt Monro, Michael S. Miller, Nancy Sinatra, Patsy Cline, Roy Orbison, Run-DMC, Smash Mouth, The Bangles, The Four Seasons, The Halo Effect, The Police, The Proclaimers, The Swamp Shop, U2, Was (Not Was)