Some call it a craze. Others say it's a return to childhood. Yet others are interested in embarking in this new lifestyle for health reasons that can't be cured with modern medicine. Copia Magazine: Barefoot Lifestyle

Taking off your shoes and going barefoot certainly feels weird at first; after all, we've trained our feet to be completely covered any time we take a step outside our homes. But more and more people are embracing a barefoot lifestyle-and loving it-because it has been shown to have health benefits, it saves cash (no more shoes = more money) and it feels good to finally put sole to earth.

But going barefoot is not as easy as just taking off your shoes. Most of us haven't exposed our feet to the elements in years, so it can-and should-be a slow process to go barefoot on a permanent basis. Are you ready to go from shod to shoe-free? Become barefoot with these simple steps:

Take baby steps. Your feet have been protected by shoes and socks for years, and you need to slowly build up their ability to walk on a variety of surfaces. Start by taking baby steps. Find a comfortable surface, perhaps some soft, cool grass in the local park, and slip off your shoes. Spend time walking-not running-on the surface for 15 or 20 minutes. Do this daily, and slowly increase the time spent walking around. Also, begin adding some new surfaces to your daily walk. Keep in mind that extreme heat and cold can be particularly difficult on your feet, and you need to work up to these surfaces gradually. Copia Magazine: Barefoot Lifestyle

Invest in a pair of minimalist shoes. The barefoot lifestyle is becoming increasingly popular, and so has the selection of minimalist shoes. There will be times when you have to wear some sort of foot covering, such as at work and in the grocery store, but you can continue your barefoot lifestyle by choosing the right types of shoes. Five-finger shoes, which are created by a few different companies, allow you to essentially go barefoot with a shoe. Many runners who embrace the barefoot style prefer to use these types of shoes. Other minimalist shoe options include anything with a thin, non-supported sole. Try bending the shoe in half and twisting it like you're wringing a towel. If you can bend and twist it completely, it's likely a flexible, minimalist option.

Copia Magazine: Barefoot Lifestyle Understand your reasons. Your reason for going barefoot is a personal one, and people will want an explanation for why you've chosen to do so. Society as a whole is not particularly open to the idea of living barefoot as we've been trained to think it is dirty, unhealthy and unsafe. Know that you will be met with people who insult, criticize or misunderstand the reasons for being barefoot. Construct your response to their comments in advance so they don't throw you off guard. Though there are actually no laws against going barefoot, many business establishments require you wear shoes. You can either passively go along with their rules, or use this as an opportunity to educate others on the benefits of going barefoot. Whatever the case, you should know, understand and be able to articulate your reasons for going shoe-free.

Embrace and enjoy the lifestyle. Once you've become a barefoot enthusiast, it can be difficult to put shoes back on. Your feet will feel texture and temperature in a way they've never felt before. Many people say they feel more connected to the earth and that it allows them to feel freer and less restricted in movement. The societal rules of what to wear become less important. Going barefoot really is a lifestyle decision, because there is a very small likelihood that you'll revert back to a shoe-covered life. Despite what others may say or think, don't be ashamed of this choice. Instead, embrace it fully and appreciate the many positive ways it can-and will-impact your life.

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Life a Barefoot Lifestyle- by JoAnna Haugen