Guest Blogger: Denise Blaha of Quitting the Sitting

In a new guest blogger series, we’re showcasing the inspiring work of people in the Move More community. Denise Blaha, founder and chief story teller over at Quitting the Sitting, underwent an unlikely transformation from couch potato to marathoner. Now her goal is to inspire everybody to move more by sharing the stories (here and here) of other previously sedentary people who have ditched the chair.


Denise’s Amazing “How I Quit the Sit” Story:

Discovering the joys of walking changed my life. Born with cerebral palsy, I walk slowly and with a noticeable limp. Growing up, I was never drawn to exercise or physical activity, but I did enjoy walking short distances. At the nudging of a good friend, I decided to train for the Marathon of the Palm Beaches Half Marathon in 2004. Completing 13.1 miles and having a wonderful volunteer drape a marathon medal around my neck was one of the happiest moments of my life.  I was hooked.

Denise, crossing her first half marathon finish line in West Palm Beach, Florida in 2004.
Denise, crossing her first half marathon finish line in West Palm Beach, Florida in 2004.

I spent the next 10 years walking half marathons throughout the United States. I was usually the last person to cross the finish line, but so what? I saw it as a service to my fellow marathoners. “Don’t worry, I’ll be last, so you won’t have to be.” I even held the national record for the slowest time ever taken to finish the Big D Texas Half Marathon. Amazingly, my record no longer stands.

In 2012, I decided to train for my first full marathon. Through a partnership with Achilles International, the New York City Marathon provides bibs to a limited number of physically challenged athletes. I signed up and trained extensively, topping out at 17.6 miles in a single day. And then I fell. Tripped over a tree stump in my backyard. From this 30 second fall, I developed severe arthritis in my right hip. No more marathons. No more walking. Even the simple act of going to get a drink of water from my kitchen sink became excruciatingly painful. It was the lowest point of my life.

Fortunately, we live in a marvelous time when arthritic joints can be replaced. On August 6, 2013, I got a new hip and my old life back. I have walked many miles since my hip surgery and I have no intention of ever slowing down. Walking is a gift and the gateway to better health. We should never take it for granted. Losing my mobility and then regaining it convinced me that it’s not enough just to stay active and encourage my friends and family to be active. I want to encourage as many people as I can to sit less and move towards a happier, more fulfilling life. Quitting the Sitting is my platform for spreading that message and walking daily is our recommended starting point. It’s free. It’s accessible. Walking is hardwired into us as human beings. And bluntly, if a bunch of middle-aged Moms can do it, how hard can it be? ​

In future blog posts, Denise will share some of her ideas about how to move toward a healthier life, one step at a time. Join her in the Quitting the Sitting Uprising! And follow along socially on both Facebook and Twitter.

Photo courtesy of Denise Blaha.

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