How Walking Helps This Woman Clear Her Mind

“Walking is My Serenity,” says Ultra-Walker Yolanda H.

I did my first 5k when I turned 40, when a friend suggested we walk one for charity. I just loved it—the atmosphere, people cheering for you, and crossing the finish line felt so great. I was so sore after that I could barely walk the next day, but I loved the way I felt.

Yolanda H.

Corona, CA

  • Fitness

Yolanda’s Advice to Others

Nobody proves that small steps can have a big impact more than Yolanda H., 57, from Corona, CA. “I did my first 5k when I turned 40, when a friend suggested we walk one for charity,” she says. “I just loved it—the atmosphere, people cheering for you, and crossing the finish line felt so great. I was so sore after that I could barely walk the next day, but I loved the way I felt.” It wasn’t long before she was walking her way through full marathons.

When Yolanda turned 50, she decided she was ready for a new challenge. Since she loved walking marathons, she made it her goal to complete 50 marathons in 50 weeks. She accomplished that, and then some. “I finished 65 marathons that year, including some ultra-marathons, which are 31 miles in the mountains,” she says. The next year she upped it and did 77 marathons, which was when she got curious about world records. “I have a friend who does marathons and he has five Guinness records,” she says. “He inspired me to go after one myself!” She contacted Guinness and found out that a woman in Italy held the record for marathons in a year with 100. So in 2010, Yolanda set out to break that record and walked her way through 106 marathons/ultra-marathons. She beat her own record two years later when she did 120. “I wanted to prove that a power walker could be just as competitive as a runner,” she says.

Her walks took a more personal and purposeful angle when her mother died from diabetes in 2013. “I missed her so much and wanted to raise awareness that something as simple as walking and changing how you eat can help prevent Type 2 diabetes,” she says. That’s how Extreme Walk 4 Diabetes was born. She’s walked through Death Valley to Las Vegas, and from Laguna Beach to San Francisco (a distance of more than 525 miles), all to help spread the word about the wonderful health benefits of putting one foot in front of the other.

While someone who walks as much as Yolanda would seem a perfect match for a Fitbit device, she didn’t start wearing one until the beginning of this year. “I got a Fitbit One for Christmas and instantly fell in love with how much it challenges you,” she says. At the time of this interview, Yolanda has logged 8,644,552 steps—and shows no signs of slowing down. “I’m trying to walk a marathon every single day in 2015, which takes me about 7 hours a day,” she says. “Walking is my serenity. When I start a marathon, I’ll be thinking about an argument or a problem and it feels so big, but after all that walking and thinking about it, six hours later, it’s not an issue at all.”

LET GO OF EXCUSES

“There are 100 reasons why you shouldn’t go out and go for a walk, but 1,000 reasons why you should,” she says. “If you let go of the excuses, you will get it done.”

SET A GOAL

“Without having something to work towards, you can’t plan or dream of what you’re going to accomplish,” she says. “The goal doesn’t have to be huge, it can be to walk 20 miles a week, but you need one to stay focused.”

GET ENERGY NATURALLY

“I used to snack on M&Ms on my walks, but I’d crash and need more,” says Yolanda. “Now I rely on fruit for that energy burst. I snack on oranges, grapes, or kiwi and it keeps my energy up.”

Yolanda’s Advice to Others

LET GO OF EXCUSES

“There are 100 reasons why you shouldn’t go out and go for a walk, but 1,000 reasons why you should,” she says. “If you let go of the excuses, you will get it done.”

SET A GOAL

“Without having something to work towards, you can’t plan or dream of what you’re going to accomplish,” she says. “The goal doesn’t have to be huge, it can be to walk 20 miles a week, but you need one to stay focused.”

GET ENERGY NATURALLY

“I used to snack on M&Ms on my walks, but I’d crash and need more,” says Yolanda. “Now I rely on fruit for that energy burst. I snack on oranges, grapes, or kiwi and it keeps my energy up.”

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