Stanley Bronstein clearly remembers the day when he couldn’t take it anymore. He had battled obesity his entire life, and on that winter day five years ago, at 320 pounds, he felt like he had hit the bottom.
“I had trouble bending over to tie my shoes. I was just miserable,” he said. Recalling that day, he said: “I’ve been battling this my whole life and I’m done playing this game.”
Bronstein knew he had a long way to go, but as an attorney, Certified Public Accountant and author, he was no stranger to taking on large, daunting tasks. He knew the key was taking that first step.
In this instance, that first step was literal: Bronstein’s plan was to start walking.
He hasn’t stopped since. In fact, he’s walked through every state since then, and this fall he’ll hit the 24,901-mile mark – the equivalent of walking around the world.
Bronstein’s progress can’t just be measured on a map. More importantly, the 55-year-old has dropped more than 140 pounds, drastically improved his health and significantly lowered his risk for heart disease, stroke and other serious problems.
“This all shows me the power people have when they make up their mind,” Bronstein said. “I’d probably be dead by now if I didn’t do anything five years ago.”
Bronstein is a very dramatic example of the results that can occur from walking. Simple and inexpensive, the American Heart Association encourages walking and provides plenty of resources to get started.
Research shows that walking at least 30 minutes a day can help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, breast and colon cancer, and non-insulin dependent diabetes also known as Type 2 diabetes.
Walking can also improve blood pressure, blood sugar levels and reduce the amount of blood lipids (fat). Walking can maintain body weight, lower the risk of obesity at all ages and enhance mental wellness.
Bronstein started off walking in the swimming pool at his gym. He was feeling good, but he also felt a little cramped. So in 2010, he began walking on hiking paths around his home in Scottsdale, Arizona. Being outside made all the difference and soon his walks became an adventure. He wanted to exercise while covering more ground.
So in August 2010, he decided to really hit the road. Bronstein started what he called the “iWarriorWalk USA Tour,” traveling across the country and putting in five-hour walks wherever he went. He flew to Hawaii and Alaska, got off the plane and went walking. At one point he covered 36 different states in 36 consecutive days, walking in each state and then driving to the next one.
Bronstein walked to the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Much as the famous movie character Forrest Gump jogged until he ran out of countryside, Bronstein stopped at each coast, watched waves crash onto the shore, then turned around and kept walking.
One day, while walking in Michigan, Bronstein got a startling reminder of the importance of his health mission. He learned one of his brothers had just died due to complications from a triple bypass surgery the week before. He rerouted the rest of his journey by driving straight from Michigan to Alabama to attend his brother’s funeral the next day.
“It just reaffirmed to me the validity of my message,” Bronstein said. “We must exercise. We must eat better. We must take care of ourselves. My brother was only 60 years old. In this day and age, that is much too young to die.”
Today, Bronstein actually weighs less than when he was 10 years old. He feels better than ever and is motivated to help others lose weight through his websites Super-Change-Your-Life, iWarriorWalk, and his nonprofit foundation EON (Eliminate Obesity Now in America).
“My goal is to generate as much attention as possible to get people started,” he said. “The message is already out there with American Heart Association and I want to scream it from the roof tops.”
The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity every week. For walking, that comes out to about a half hour for five days a week.
Bronstein wants everyone to understand the difference you can make in your health by walking. That’s especially important considering the overall health of American adults. Two of every three are overweight or obese.
“Believe in yourself and your ability to change,” he said. “It is not too late, but if you don’t take action, then you’ll wake up one day and realize it really is too late.”
Bronstein is in the process of hitting the road again to continue spreading that message of healthy living around the country.
Bronstein also points out one other key benefit of walking:
“This is a lot more fun than practicing law,” he said.