Those of you who follow my daily status reports know that since the beginning of summer I have walked more than 20,000 steps (10 miles) every day, with a high of 40,333 steps in one day. Of course, I did some of that while I was on vacation and had made my fitness a priority, but now the school year has resumed (in fact I'll be in the office both days this weekend because I already have papers and quizzes to grade
) but I'm still getting the steps in. Many of you have told me that my daily step counts have inspired you to increase you own activity levels and I'm grateful for that because I have taken SO MUCH inspiration from all of you. I cannot stress too much how the support and inspiration of the Spark Community has been a part of the success I am now having. Thank you so much.
Because some of you have asked how I manage to get in 20,000+ steps a day while still having a job, a family, and a fondness for sitting on the couch watching movies with my wife, I decided to write a few blogs sharing my "secrets" (such as they are). This is part one. I hope it helps.
Last year (2012) I resolved to average 10,000 steps a day for the entire year. I bought myself a pedometer at a sporting goods store and I made a spreadsheet on my computer to keep track of the daily steps.
I kept my 2012 resolution and learned a few things along the way. The first is that the very act of measuring and recording my steps led me to walk more, just as I am sure that many of you have noticed that the mere fact of keeping a food journal reduces how much you eat.
This year I traded my pedometer for a Fitbit activity tracker (you can see it at the top of this blog). I did it mostly because the Fitbits are much more resistant to sweat and rain than traditional pedometers and after I had two pedometers die on me from walking and bicycling in the rain, I thought enough was enough.
The other thing that Fitbits make easy is good natured competition. Fitbits synch with your computer and you can choose, if you like, to join groups which share step counts and rank people according to their counts. This is a competition where everybody wins, because if the competition spurs you on to walk more, you win even if you don't come in first. But of course, I wanted to come in first, and for the last three months, I've been number one on the New Hampshire Fitbit team. But, as I said, everybody wins, and if one of you wants to join and grab the #1 spot, more power to you.
When I bought my Fitbit, they had a 2 for 1 sale and I got one for my wife. This spurred a private competition between the two of us and we frequently take walks together in the evening instead of watching television and share stories about our day.
But the biggest single thing I have done to get the steps in was to make the decision to walk to work. It takes me an hour and 15 minutes to walk one-way at a speed that doesn't leave me sweaty. Of course, I still sweat somewhat and I have learned to always wear a t-shirt and to pack an extra outer shirt just in case. I also have a "wooden valet" in my office where I leave a suit once a week if I need one (fortunately, I don't have to dress up all that often for my job as a college prof.)
Now some of you may be thinking "This is no help at all! I don't have an extra 2 and a half hours to walk to and from work." Or maybe you are thinking "I live too far from work to walk." But consider the following things.
My hour and 15 minute walk is not an extra hour and 15 minutes. With traffic, lights, etc. it takes 20 minutes each way to drive. If I have to hunt for a parking space, that adds another 10-15 minutes. 40-55 minutes of my walking time would have been spent sitting in a car. So my 2 hours 30 minutes is actually only an extra hour and 35 minutes. Plus when I do go to the gym, I don't spend time on the treadmills, so that is an additional time savings.
There are also economic savings. I don't pay for gas, parking or wear and tear on the car. I'm still on the same tank of gas that I bought when I came back from India on August 15th. Plus there are psychological savings: the walk is a good transition to and from work. On the way in I plan the day's activities and on the way home, I decompress. And finally, don't forget the health savings which is the main reason why I'm doing this in the first place. I've gone down FOUR NOTCHES ON MY BELT this summer!!
On days when I'm too rushed, I drive partway and park in a supermarket parking lot. This cuts my walk to 15 minutes each way which is better than nothing. That is another "secret": I try not to become a slave to the goal of 20,000. I figure if I get more than 10k, it's a good day.
The idea of driving part way and then walking the rest may work for some of you that have longer commutes. What do you think? And finally, I have to acknowledge that I live and work in areas that make it safe for me to walk. That should be everyone's right, but sadly I know this is not the case.
I do have other "tricks" up my sleeve but this has gone on long enough, so I'll save them for another blog. Thanks for all the support SparkFriends. Keep Sparkin'. And keep walking.
P.S. Thanks for voting this a "popular blog". Part 2 can be found here: http://www.sparkpeople.com/myp