10,000 steps a day.
10,000 steps is what what the NHS recommends we all walk every day: “Setting yourself a target of walking 10,000 steps a day can be a fun way of increasing the amount of physical activity you do”.
My initial reaction? Fun? Really? Maybe?
How realistic or easy is 10,000 steps EVERY DAY?
- In the middle of winter?
- When it’s raining?
- When you’re cold?
- When you’re tired?
- When you ate too much over Christmas?
- When you have no waterproof clothing?
- When, after a week of over-enthusiastically walking everywhere and telling all your mates about it, there’s too much chafing because you’re not actually used to walking that far and don’t have, nor can you afford more to the point, any “sportswear” or clothing to make this said walking more comfortable?
- When your feet hurt from all the walking?
- When your umbrella is broken and you need to get to a meeting?
- When you have too much work to do?
- When you have no time?
- When you’re hungry?
- When you have a hangover?
- When it starts to get dark at 3:30pm and you don’t want to go out alone and no-one else wants to walk with you to help you maintain your latest obsession which is now 10,000 steps every day, but also, you only got up at 2pm and you’re not even dressed yet because you’re an insomniac and didn’t get to sleep until 4am?
- When you got the coil fitted the day before?
- When it’s time of the month and you’re in pain?
- When it’s 0°C degrees out and there’s 45 mph winds meaning it actually feels like -5°C?
- WHEN LIFE HAPPENS!!!!!!!!!!!?
Interestingly, the average person takes between 3,000-4,000 steps a day apparently.
I’m quite relieved to realise this because I thought I was really rubbish when I first started and I felt exhausted from trying to maintain 10,000 steps a day.
And now I’m pleased (slightly smug in fact) to say I have done 10,000 steps for the last 30 days. In January/February. Here is proof. #winningatlife
And look here’s a picture of me really happy, after an hour of walking on day 20: Sunday 29th Jan, 2017.
Clearly I’m not happy. I was happy later, once I got home and realised that I’d got through my twentieth day of steps, but at that point I felt drained and exhausted. And I needed water and food. And I felt a bit faint – sounds dramatic but it’s true. And all the benches were soggy ‘cos it had been raining drizzle for what felt like 10,000 days so I couldn’t sit down while I was out. It was one of the days I’d gone out unprepared. (I’d also refused a lift home from friends the night before after a really nice day/evening out, so I could walk the 5,000 steps I still needed to do to meet my goal – at 8pm on a Saturday night, when all my other mates were going out partying. So I was still feeling a bit dejected about that to be honest.)
So why am I doing it? It’s annoying, you could say stupid – at least some of the time. Well, I want/need to get fitter/healthier. So does everyone I guess. I currently have limited physical strength and stamina for running several times a week – it’s clearly far more pleasant in the spring/summer. I am not a member of a gym (I don’t have much money). And I’m lazy.
With walking, I figured at least I can realistically make myself do this every single day if I put my mind to it. One thing I do have going for me is stamina and resilience for something that is achievable. And if I set myself a challenge, I very rarely give up. You could say I should do this with running, but I have found my body physically can’t keep up at the moment so I am forced to give up and feel disappointed after a couple of weeks.
So. Walking: Achievable; Doable; A sustainable habit?
Ok so some of you people probably do this stuff all the time. I get it – you’re healthy, fit, (not lazy like me), you are twenty-something. Whatever. You wake up and eat your colourful breakfast of a medley of fruit with granola and quinoa with a side of mashed avocado and pomegranate smoothie and hold the caffeine this morning because, last night you found it hard to get to sleep and you had a late night of like 9:30pm or something which has sent your whole day sideways, and also you jog to the office before I’ve even gone to bed yet. #iwokeuplikethis – UGH! Great. Good for you.
I sound bitter – I am actually jealous really. Sorry. I even heard myself saying to my partner the other day – “Hey we could start to eat really colourful foods like fruit and stuff for breakfast like they do on the telly – that would be cool wouldn’t it? I mean you see it all the time the Internet and stuff”. Hey, the possibilities are endless. Yeh…
Anyway, even if it doesn’t seem like that much, I feel proud of myself for this whole 10,000 steps thing. The plan is to try to create some kind of new life-long habit. Obviously I know 10,000 steps every single day would be too much (we all need days off) and to be honest, I think I’m going to want a break after a while. I’m aiming for 100 days and I’ve done 30 days in a row and if I can do 10,000 steps, for 30 days, in a row, in January, in the cold and rain, then there is absolutely no excuse for not doing it for the rest of the year. After-all, there is that slightly-annoying saying: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes”.
Ok so this is where I get to be positive (kind of) – because so far I realise this whole thing has been mostly cynical and sarcastic. But actually, if I’m honest, I’m really glad I’ve done it – the statistics at the end should tell you that.
- Podcasts: After about 1 day of walking 10,000 steps, I was utterly bored of my own thoughts/internal monologue and needed something else to make this whole thing more enjoyable and interesting otherwise I was going to lose the will to live and give up pretty quickly. So I re-found my love for Woman’s Hour which I used to listen to regularly and I have listened to every show since the end of December now. I also started to listen to the 2nd Best Podcast which some mates of mine, Chris & Tom, created. Both shows are great and have kept me entertained so far. I have had to stop myself from laughing out loud several times when walking through Sefton park. This includes whilst hearing the insights into my mate Chris’ self-employed, working-from-home-life and his attempt to really badly prank the guy who could ‘cure any problem in 7 days’, which didn’t work out ‘cos Chris has been prank-called himself and knows how bad it can be, so didn’t want to do anything too horrible. It turned into several awkward (but hilarious as a listener) minutes of Chris repeating Sombrero/Top Hat down the phone until the really confused guy who could ‘cure anything’ basically just hung up. Anyway, podcasts help because they take you out of your mood and stop you from thinking too much. The distraction means you can walk and not even realise how far you have gone and then you’re done! In fact some days if I’m near the end of listening to an interesting programme, I’ll walk further so I can get to the end.
- Talc: See earlier re: Chafing.
- Waterproof clothing: I have bought some waterproof trousers (I figured overall it was cheaper than bus/taxi fare if I was to walk regularly in all types of weather, and I had just walked 5000 steps to town in the rain, so it was an investment). I haven’t actually used the waterproof trousers yet, but the whole week before I bought them, I got absolutely drenched. If and when it rains like that again, I am prepared.
- Suitable clothing: If you can afford to, buy and start out with the correct gear. Make sure what you’re wearing is comfortable and (more importantly) doesn’t rub. Also see earlier re: Chafing.
- Drink water before you go out and take a small snack as a pick me up: Just do these things. On days 8 and 20 you’ll be really glad you did.
- Take photos: As a photographer it’s nice to incorprate that into walking. So I’ve been doing a bit of that too while I’ve been out…
But how do you maintain 10,000 steps if you’re busy?
To be honest – I’m self-employed and what I thought was going to be a busy January actually turned out to be a pretty quiet month for me. Meaning not many deadlines, not much work, which, let’s face it means no money and plenty of time to kill, so hey what better to do than walk around the park for an hour a day trying to reach 7 KM. Plus I had my tax returns to avoid so it was win-win.
I have also started to incorporate the things I am doing with my day into getting my steps, so buying groceries, walking to meetings or rehearsals instead of getting the bus etc.
To be honest, some days it has been really really hard to motivate myself to get out there and I did almost give up a few times. That point at 11:30pm when you realise you still have over 500 steps to walk and you are walking around the flat in circles. Although, in the end, I tried to make it more fun by turning the tunes up and getting some drum and bass dancing steps in. And if I get my steps in early in the day I am more focused at doing my work.
364,336 steps / 260.8 km / 162.1 miles / 26,880 calories
So obviously, I have proof of the steps I’ve done. Spreadsheets, pictures, charts, apps. You name it. Just in case you don’t believe me, the totals from 10th January for the last 30 days are 364,336 steps / 260.8 km / 162.1 miles / 26,880 calories. Or thereabouts!
As for weight loss/measurements, currently, I’ve not done all that. I don’t own any scales, so I couldn’t tell you! I also eat too much chocolate and cake and drink too much red wine. So it’s probably a good job I’ve walked so much. I won’t even get into my statistics for how many calories I can consume in a day (which I’ve also started to track…).
I think I feel a bit better/healthier/less depressed – could be the steps, could be the fresh air, could be the slight change in season, could be a combination of them all. I do know that if I’m feeling agitated, stressed or angry and I go out walking and listen to a podcast, after a short while, I usually start to feel better. So it’s been great for my mental health.
And we begin again…
As you can see, each day the pedometer resets itself and you have the harsh realisation that you have to start all over again!
So let’s see if I can make it to 100 days. I tell you what, it’s a lot easier now than it was in the first week when I just felt exhausted and was dreading meeting my target each day.