I turned 56 years old in May. I was never a marathon runner but had always been active. Something happened in my 50s and I found myself in spring of 2018 very overweight and out of shape. A long, out-of-breath trek up the hill to the Monroe building in Richmond was my wake up call. And as often happens with those calls, I answered by going to extremes and signing up for a 10,000 step challenge that started on May 1. It was sponsored by a trainer from Canada and the rules were simple: post a picture of your pedometer every day to a private Facebook group. Last person standing (or walking, I guess) would win $100.
I don’t have records for my steps on April 30, but I can tell you that since then, I have walked at least 10,000 steps every day. I hike the farm with the dogs, walk on the treadmill, “ride” my bike on the Wii and use the bathroom that is on the second floor, furthest from my office. I park at the back of the lot, take an extra turn around Target, and, when traveling, locate public walking paths or make a stop on my way home at the Capital to Capital trail where it comes out of Charles City County along Route 295. I get up 30 minutes early at hotels and jostle for the treadmill in the exercise room, sometimes having to settle for the bike and sometimes giving up and heading outside for a walk instead. I walk almost five miles every day and have done so for 116 days. And, since I’m already at 6,000 steps today, I have no doubt it will be 117 when I go to bed tonight.
What have I learned?
- Exercise doesn’t necessarily help with weight loss. I lost a few pounds but now have been holding steady. Admittedly, I have not made any significant changes in my diet and it is horrible but it could use some tweaking. That’s next on the list. I will admit to feeling better in general both health-wise and self-esteem wise. I can make a resolution related to my health and follow through on it.
- Eventually, even things you don’t love, can become habits. I am not a convert to exercise, not planning to run a marathon or try out for American Ninja Warrior. No tough mudder races are in my future. Part of the reason I do it every day is that if I don’t, I worry that I will stop. Every day makes it a habit, and I find myself wandering to the treadmill or Wii about the same time every afternoon to get over the hump of 7,000 steps.
- But when routines get disrupted, habits take planning. While I am fortunate to mostly work from home so I can work in my steps easily, I have been traveling and that means thinking ahead. I don’t want to end up at home or the hotel at 8 PM with 5,000 steps to go. It may mean that early morning treadmill, or talking a walk during breaks or at lunch. I can usually find someone to go along. When we break for the afternoon, I may head out into the neighborhood or to the local chain store where they do not charge you for walking.
- Accountability matters. There is a small group of people still participating in the original challenge (there are 4 or 5 of us left along with the trainer), and I look forward to taking a minute each night to share my results with them and like their posts. Most of them are in Canada, and I do not anticipate ever meeting them, but I did think it would make a fun story to take a trip to Ontario and take a walk with them.
My new habit to build is blogging. I suspect all four of these lessons will apply although I’m hoping that I will learn to love the practice of writing. I like to write…but the discipline seems to elude me.
Meanwhile, my tracker just reminded me that it’s time to get 250 more steps so here I go!