How Fitness Motivated a BIG Life Change

We did a thing.

Ava and I moved 500 miles from Maryland to South Carolina. I did not retire and will still be working for the radio station where I’ve been employed for 34 years. My hope and goal is to add a bunch more years to that total.

I’ve lived my entire life in Maryland. Same with my parents and grandparents. My roots run deep there. Ava was born in Germany while her dad was in the Army and stationed in Frankfurt. They returned to Maryland when Ava was nine months old and there she stayed until our move.

Our children were all born in Maryland and most of our grandchildren were born there too. We have wonderfully rich friendships in Maryland. And, there are things about living in Maryland that I hate to leave. I love watching baseball games at Camden Yards. We lived close enough to take easy day trips to Washington DC, Williamsburg, Philadelphia, and even New York City. I took advantage of those opportunities often. And, autumn in Maryland is exquisite!  

So, why did we move?

Truthfully, I don’t have an easy answer to that question. We didn’t do the standard “Retire and move south” thing. I’m still working. Neither one of us got a new job that required the move. In fact, moving only made my job in Maryland a bit more complicated. Gratefully, the people I work for didn’t flinch at those complications which made this transition far easier than it could have been.

Ava’s dad lives close to where we moved and he is facing some health challenges. And, while that is a factor it’s not THE reason why we moved. Because, even though we moved closer to her dad we moved away from my parents who are also aging.

So, why did we move? And, more importantly, why do I think this has value for you? I don’t write about anything in this blog unless it does! 

While the answer is not a single reason, which would be easy, there are factors that I believe will encourage you to think outside the box too. 

But, first a little context.

Twelve years ago, when I was 48, I decided to take my current and future health more seriously. I started running. It seemed like the quickest and easiest way to get in shape. I ran a bunch of 5k’s, a handful of half-marathons, and even one accidental marathon. 

Running was my preferred exercise until I got a Fitbit. That changed everything. While I liked running…I LOVED walking. A little research quickly told me that walking is great exercise. That along with no more running injuries made it easy for me to make walking my primary exercise. 

And, that change opened the door to a new passion for me. I’ll call it urban exploration. I love exploring cities. That growing passion coincided with a season of business travel that lasted several years. I got to explore some of the great cities in the US and even a few in Italy.

But, I mostly fell in love with Washington and New York since I could easily spend a lot of time in both. Every time I visited it became a challenge to discover something new that I hadn’t seen before.

Walking through those cities also stirred a desire. I loved how people who lived there could simply walk to get their morning coffee. They could also walk to the store if they needed something. If they wanted to go out and eat, lots of restaurant options were a short walk away. And, if they simply wanted to take a walk, they could head out is so many directions to keep it fresh and exciting. I wanted that kind of urban lifestyle. 

We live in a culture that discourages moving and encourages sitting. We sit in a car and drive to work so we can sit at a desk. When that’s done we drive home and look forward to sitting in front of a TV. I know this is a very simplistic, and not entirely accurate, view of life for most of us. The reality, though, is that few of us have a life that embraces, or at least gives us the opportunity, to use walking as our primary form of transportation.

There’s a money blog I’ve come to enjoy called Mr. Money Mustache. This guy retired 15 years ago at age 30 and lives in a small town in Colorado. Part of his “thing” is seeing how little he can live on. I think he has his annual expenses to something under $27,000. He has a car that he puts gas in, maybe, twice a year because he’s built his life around walking or biking everywhere. The health impact and cost savings are impressive.

When Ava and I started planning for the next season of our life we assumed it would happen after I retire. As it became clear that retirement was further down the road we began to figure out how to make this change happen before retirement.

While the details of how all this came to be are still very fresh I will not ask you to endure the thinking behind every decision we made. Instead, I will simply tell you we decided to move to Myrtle Beach by the end of 2020. And, we did.

Here’s where our move, my “urban lifestyle” desire, and value for you converge.

We live in an area of Myrtle Beach called The Market Common District. It’s built on land that used to be part of an Air Force base that was decommissioned in the 90’s. Much of that land was sold to developers who created an urban style distract surrounded by new neighborhoods. Our home is just a half mile from the main restaurant and shopping area and three miles from the beach.

Ava moved into our new home in October. I remained in Maryland longer because of responsibilities I had at the radio station. I commuted to South Carolina on the weekends until I could join Ava permanently.

I’ve often written about creating a lifestyle of fitness. Not only have I encouraged you to pursue this, but I have as well. I’ve made walking as much a part of my regular life as I can. Wherever I can swap sitting for moving I do.

One of the best ways Ava and I deepen our relationship is by walking together. In fact, most of the talking and planning for our move was done while we were walking together instead of sitting at a table. 

When I have a problem to solve I go for a walk. Research indicates we think better and more creatively when we’re walking. I take advantage of that every chance I get. I use a push mower instead of a riding mower to cut our grass. And when my car needs repairs I drove to the mechanic almost three miles away and then walk home.

After seven years of creating what I call a naturally active lifestyle, I reached the limit of what I could do where we lived in Maryland. And, as Ava and I looked to move south I really wanted a place where I would rarely need a car.

The Market Common District in Myrtle Beach checked that box and here we are. To be clear, this was not the only reason for our move, but it’s also not an insignificant reason either.

Ava and I are only beginning to explore how this big change will impact us. We have walked to restaurants for dinner. There are several coffee shops within walking distance. I’ve also bought a bike with a BIG basket on the back I use for grocery shopping. And, once the weather warms up enough, I plan to bike to the beach where I can walk and think.

What had once been a dream is now our reality. I’m confident as we take advantage of these new opportunities it’ll also be a long-term investment in our health. I’m also hopeful this change allows us to cut costs and even be a long term financial benefit too.

What about you?

Are there areas of your everyday life that you can transform into a natural fitness activity without having to move to another area? Do you live close enough to shopping that you can walk or bike to the store? If so, are you willing to give it a try? Can you find ways to build relationships as you walk? If you buy lunch at work, can you walk to get it? Could you even walk to work?

The possibilities are numerous and unique to your situation. It simply requires a desire to find ways to move more and sit (or drive) less. 

Walking more can indeed change your life. If are interested in getting started, try The 30 Day Fitness Challenge. This free guide will help you transform and increase your everyday walking into real exercise with immediate and long-term benefits.  

It’ll help you set the right daily step goal for you to begin creating a fitness habit. That habit will transition into fitness momentum and eventually fitness transformation. The 30 Day Fitness Challenge also contains additional resources to make this really work for you.

And, who knows…maybe one day you’ll start dreaming of even bigger changes to make fitness even more a part of your everyday lifestyle.

If you don’t have a Fitbit I recommend the brand new Fitbit Inspire 2! The Inspire 2 has double the battery life, and also tracks your heart rate and sleep so you get an even wider picture of your fitness progress.

(By the way…if you use the link above to buy a Fitbit Inspire 2 this blog will receive a small commission. It won’t add anything to what you pay, but letting you know is the right thing to do)

I also recommend subscribing to this blog for weekly encouragement and motivation. Establishing and maintaining a fitness habit is not easy. Receiving a regular article to help you keep moving forward might be the difference maker you need. To subscribe simply click FOLLOW (to the right if you’re reading on a computer or below if you’re on your phone)

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