From unfit smoker to challenge winner – Stewart’s story

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Stewart with his new Gabel Inverso Alu poles

When Stewart McFarlane was smoking heavily it did at least make him go up and down stairs every time he popped out for a cigarette at work!

Once he made the decision to quit in 2007 however, he piled on the weight and realised he was in poor health and not active at all. This is his story about how he gradually introduced walking and nordic walking into his daily routine and how an NWUK challenge inspired him to cover 889 miles in 5 months!

Stewart - before he discovered Nordic Walking

Whilst waiting for a small operation on his nose and worried they may not allow it because of his weight, Stewart first went back to using the stairs at work like he used to do when smoking. He gradually added longer walks into his local town but was struggling to add any intensity as he could not add any speed and did not have the time to go further – he felt stuck in a rut and also felt he needed to start work on his upper body too. In 2009 he saw and advert for a GO 50  Nordic Walking scheme in his local library and went along with his wife who has had both knees operated on and has a bad back.

“As soon as we started …..she was off and she did not suffer at all ” Stewart recalls  ” I loved it too and decided I would use poles for my lunchtime walks in order to get my upper body strong and help with the weight loss”.

Stewart altered his routes slightly and was amazed when he sailed through a gall bladder operation in late 2010 and was back doing his walks within two weeks due to his heightened fitness levels. This spurred him on to keep nordic walking regardless of the weather.

” I would not allow myself any excuses otherwise I know it would be the thin edge of the
wedge and it could gradually come to a stop.” says Stewart, who also started to add weight to his rucksack and wearing wrist weights in a self determined effort to keep improving on his new found fitness.

” When this got boring I got rid of the weights and started using a metronome to stop myself slowing down towards the end of my walks. This really helped with walking faster and increasing the distance during my lunchtime walks”

Despite continually adding more challenges for himself Stewart was still walking alone and wanted some motivation so when he saw an article in the NWUK newsletter in February 2012 which advertised our OLYMPIC challenge to see who could clock up the most miles before the start of the games…he was off!

As the parking charges at his work increased he decided to park off site (0.66 miles away) and work into and back from work in order to increase his daily distance.Gradually his lunchtime walk increased from 3.3 miles to an amazing 4.2 miles and he was increasing his walks to and from the car park to 2 miles each way!

Not content with that, Stewart also regularly walked 5 miles or so at the weekends with Viginia water being a favourite route.

“I really like walking around Virginia Water lake which is just down the road from me.  It is 4.2 miles around.  Usually I walk it twice.  It is a lovely walk.  Far more picturesque than my lunchtime walks.  I have managed it twice in 2 hours i.e. 4.2 mph.  I have also walked along the Thames to Windsor on a great route that is 17 miles long!! ” he says.

Stewart walks alone and the main purpose was to get fit.  Weight loss was a secondary benefit but he has acheived a massive 3 stone loss and his clothes have dropped in size from 46”trousers to 36”, 18”neck to 16.5”neck.

Stewart adds “Nordic Walking has been perfect for me as I felt this was something that was cheap to maintain.  Much cheaper than going to the gym and something I should be able to continue with through retirement I have managed to collect a large number of OS Landranger maps, so when I retire I intend to do a lot more walking in pleasant locations (2015). “

We say – WELL DONE STEWART! It’s great to hear from somebody who has become a confirmed exerciser by using nordic walking and. Stewart was limited by time constraints so could not enjoy the lovely walks and great company that many of our Instructors can offer but he stuck to his daily regime and, thanks to the challenge, has gained a whole new love of being active!

If you have been inspired by his story – contact your local Instructor today visit FIND an INSTRUCTOR

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