Let's Go Walkin' Mississippi has failed.

Visit Let's Go Walkin' Mississippi's website, and what do you see? Page after page encouraging site visitors to sign up, educating them on the benefits of exercise and healthy diets, and not a single section with success stories of Mississippians who have lost weight and improved their health by walking. Granted, there is a hard to find article about Pecan Park Elementary's walking track, but where's the part about pounds lost? Or the risk for Type II diabetes lessened? According to their site,
"More than 145,000 people have requested information since Let's Go Walkin' Mississippi began in October 2006."
Really? Is that all? According to this article by NPR, 7 out of 10 adult Mississippians are overweight or obese. According to the 2010 Census, Mississippi's population is pretty close to 3 million. As a state, what on earth are we doing? Handing a handful of people flyers telling them walking is a good idea? We've really got to step up our game. Oh wow, pun unintended.

How many Mississippians
live within a mile or two of the post office or their church? Of course, walking two miles in the Mississippi summer heat isn't appealing to anyone, but why isn't Blue Cross Blue Shield pushing the idea of walking right now while the weather is gorgeous and cool? By the time April rolls around, walking could be a habit and the heat wouldn't bother us as much.

You've all read the statistics. You know obesity is a main cause of so many health problems. Our state is continually ranked in the top 2 or 3 for all counts of ''Worst in..'' studies.. And that gets old. Health is something we have the power to change, and we're not doing it. It's hard gettting in the habit of exercising. It's difficult to say no to french fries in favor of cooking baked chicken and veggies (without mounds of butter). But we're killijg ourselves by not getting up and moving during the day and by grabbing take-out simply because it's convenience.

I challenged my family to lose weight last fall.. Dad was the onhy one who did. In fact, I'm pretty sure he lost 20 pounds before the rest of us had lost 5. As far as I can tell, when Dad is home from work, he comes in the house every hour or so to eat. And he eats whatever he wants. That said, he spends the rest of the day on his feet moving around. When he's at work, he gets on the treadmill 3 times a day. My Dad is skinnier now than I remember seeing in years. He's not dieting, and running has never even crossed his mind.

This summer, I called myself working out. I went to the gym four or five times a week, and I went to dance classes like Zumba whenever I could. When I ate at home, my meals were full of fresh veggies from the garden.. However, I had a boyfriend, and I ate out 3 or 4 times a week. I lost 2 pounds.
It was my own fault and I knew it. Even when I didn't want to admit it.
For the last several years, I'd let a busy schedule get the best of me and I was heavier than I'd ever been. I let work and class and homework become my scapegoat for not exercising, and before I knew it, I was spending 10 hours a day at a desk instead of iaking being active a priority.

Fast forward to now. I'm living in Mexico, without a car. To get anywhere, I have to walk or bike.. Even to get to the closest MetroBus stop. I decided to start walking to and from work just because the crowded buses stress me out, and I can honestly say it's the best decision I've made in ages. The forty minutes I spend walking in the morning are perfect for clearing my head and relaxing before I start a busy day, and the trip home at night is time to shake any stress I've worked up from my job so that I can come home and rest before bed, instead of falling asleep with all of that negative energy. Granted, I have a few minutes less in my day to spend playing on my computer or talking to friends because iy commute is longer, but what have I really lost? Right now, the weather outside is beautiful in the mornings and it hasn't gotten too cold yet. I arrive to work elated, full of endorphins. Oh yeah, and I've lost ten pounds without trying. In the couple of weeks, I've made a conscious effort to try to eat more balanced meals, but I couldn't dream of completely depriving myself of all the tasty foods Mexico has to offer. (see yesterday's post about Carnitas) In fact, the temptation to eat bad things here is even stronger because street vendors are more visible here than McDonald's are in the US. Honestly, I think I probably gain weight just smelling all the food I pass in the mornings. Regardless, I feel healthier than I've felt in a long time, and dropping those first 10 pounds was exactly the motivation I needed to keep at it and try for 20. I just have to make sure I keep it up when I'm no longer ''sin carro''.

It's apparent to me that walking is a viable solution for weight loss. The question is, how can we get Mississippi to try it?