How to walk up hills: tips for the athletically challenged

I read somewhere that it takes 40 days to create a habit. Probably bullcrap. (In fact it’s apparently more like 66, according to this study.)

But if we just ignore the science and say it is true, then today is day 40 of my new morning walking regime. And thus I have created a highly worthy healthy habit. HURRAH for me!

You need to have a bit of context to understand why this is a big deal.

I am the most highly non-athletic person stumbling around on the planet. I am the lady likely to ‘trip over a blade of grass’.

May or may not be Champagne Gillian fallen down in the supermarket.  Image credit:
May or may not be Champagne Gillian fallen down in the supermarket.
Image credit:

I think I have one leg longer than the other, so when I walk, I look like a lumbering beast, my arms swing sideways and I lurch a bit. If I wasn’t too embarrassed to film myself, I would upload video to prove it.

When I was a young girl, I was the kiddie in the running race following up the rear, waaaaay at the back. Always coming last. I would urge my tiny legs to run like the wind, but they would sluggishly scamper. It was excruciating to me and to anyone watching. I can bring my lean, atheletic husband to tears by regaling him with the specifics of my anti-jockness.

These early years truly stayed with me and created an immoveable impression in my young mind. I have always LOATHED any form of exercise that involved moving around on the ground, for any distance or with any sort of pace. Put me in a pool and I was almost dolphin like, but on land, bad scene.

You get the gist?

Well, here I am today a new woman. A veritable able-bodied sportsperson. Okay, well I’m not about to run the London Marathon, but I have managed to CONSISTENTLY walk at least four days a week for more than 45 minutes, for the last 6 weeks. And every morning I incorporate at least one massive hill into my route.

For now I am high-fiving myself as this is the longest time I have consistently undertaken any form of land exercise. Look, things may change, but for now I’m super proud of myself.

Here’s how I did it and how you, the athletically challenged, can too:

Image credit: credit
Image credit:
  • Start slow and build up, increase your distance every day. You have to enjoy it. If you go too hardcore, you’ll hate it and never want to go again.
  • Never compare yourself to others. Be in the moment, enjoy what you’re doing, be proud of your achievements. Don’t think about what anyone else is doing.
  • Set small achievable goals that aren’t about weight loss. I used to start off like a bull at a gate thinking of how skinny I’d be in two weeks. NO, wrong tactic. Replace with, “today I will walk around the block to the park, next day I will walk past the park to the bus stop.”
  • Be accountable. Tell a friend or your partner or someone what you are trying to do and get them on board to support, encourage and kick you out of bed when you need it.
  • Start incorporating hills straight away. Yes, you’ll puff, but it’s not going to kill you and it will increase your fitness level quickly. Don’t overthink it. ‘Just do it,’ as that global brand rallies. Keep walking till you get to the top, don’t look up, put your head down and know you can do it.
  • Stop feeling sorry for yourself. I had a real attitude of entitlement, like, ‘It’s just not fair, why aren’t I naturally athletic, why can’t I just eat what I want and be lithe and gorgeous’. Yep sorry princess, life doesn’t work like that.
  • Wear proper exercise clothes and good trainers. Make sure nothing pulls or rides up or rubs – try to avoid any reason to head home early.
  • Make yourself some choice mix tapes for exercising. I listen to banging house tunes, e.g. the Hed Kandi series or Ministry of Sound Annuals. Not everyone’s cuppa but it really fires me up to get moving and helps push me up a hill if I’m struggling.
  • Change your attitude about exercise. Write a bunch of reasons to go, not excuses to stay home.

140205 list 2

140205 list

Finally, when you feel unmotivated, ask for help – I call on my sister, my husband and my exercise guru Champagne Carolyn for advice and motivation.

For more hints and tricks keep an eye out for an upcoming series where I get to grill fitness freak Champagne Carolyn on all things health, wellness and fitness.

Are you athletically challenged? Have you found the motivation to get moving? Please share with us!

Written By

Gillian is a marketing savant and brand strategist with over 20 years of experience in above and below the line marketing, digital strategy and creative direction. She is an exceptional people person who loves to collaborate with clients every step of the way to achieve the best possible outcome. Gillian is also a successful makeup-artist and make-up obsessive who loves to share her tricks of the trade and help women to look good and feel great.


Leave a Reply