Jim Epperson

A little over a week after my 47th birthday, I just started walking.

Before that, I used all the excuses you've ever heard - too busy, too much responsibility, too tired. I had been praying for change, but didn't feel like it was coming. Then, inexplicably, on September 1, 2011, I started a regular, daily habit of walking. In the beginning, I couldn't make it two miles. My legs felt tired by the end of my walk. After a few, weeks, I started to get discouraged, thinking I'd never break through that two-mile barrier.

I really don't know how much I actually weighed at my peak. I hadn't voluntarily weighed myself at home in years. I waited for each doctor's visit, cringing as I stepped on the scale. The highest I remember weighing was somewhere over 290 lbs. By September 1, just after a Lake Cumberland houseboat vacation, I was probably more. But I put in my head that my actual peak weight was probably 285 - probably not wanting to admit it was more. Sometime in mid-October, after realizing my pants were fitting looser, I jumped on the scale. I was down to 260. So I was able to say I had lost 25 lbs.

To get to this point, I was walking every day. I missed 3 days during the month of September due to schedule conflicts, but after September 24, I don't miss my walking appointment. One day in January, 2012 I had to miss, but otherwise I've walked every day for 257 days through this writing (June 6, 2012). Almost every day, I walk in the morning around the residential streets near my neighborhood. On weekends, or in the afternoon, I use the beautiful Indian Creek Trail to log miles. My usual route is 4.2 miles every day. Once in a while, I'll cut it down to 2.5 miles, or some days I'll walk both morning and evening, racking up over 6 daily miles. I've worn out 3 pairs of expensive New Balance 993 shoes, shivered cold and sweated hot and I wouldn't trade a second of it to be sitting on the couch. To date, I've lost about 80 lbs. - at least according to my unofficial benchmark of 285. I've been "plateaued" for about 8 weeks. So, starting June 11, I plan to trade three days a week of walking with a weight routine at the YMCA. Instinctively, I know I have to change up my habit once in a while. Having had success so far, I have no doubt that I will lose the final 20 pounds to meet my 100 lb. goal by September 1, 2012, the one-year anniversary of this effort.

I believe I have adopted a habit that will last the rest of my life. I've tried running but it's too tough on my knees. Someday, I know that walking will be hampered by years of abuse on my knees, so what's next. Biking? Probably. Whatever method I can find that I can still do, I plan to keep this up as long as I can."