Happy 1st Anniversary

happyanniversaryI know it is three days early, but I’m too excited to wait. Happy Anniversary to me. It has been one full year (shy three days) since I completely changed my life and began my pursuit of health and happiness. It is one year that I went cold turkey on foods that bring me down (especially diet foods, that are super insidious). One year since I committed to fitness for fun rather than for losing weight. One year of deciding to accept and even love who I am in the moment (still kind of working on that one). One year of not saying “diet.”

It totally started as a lark, an experiment, a moment of desperation. However, after a year I’m happier and healthier than I think I have ever been. So here are some of the things that have changed in my life over the past year:

  • I rarely have food cravings. The other day I did a presentation in front of a plate of cookies and platter of bagels and muffins. These foods were in front of me all freakin’ day and I never even thought about picking one up until the end of the day when someone said, “Are you going to throw those out?” I did have some food cravings over Halloween, but I blame the candy corn and pizza, which triggered the cravings. Once I got “clean” again, I was fine.
  • I’ve lost a lot of weight. I know I keep saying it isn’t just about weight loss, but I have been tracking my losses. To date, I’ve lost 88 pounds and dropped 12 sizes. I no longer have to shop in plus size departments (except for bathing suits  and some fancy dresses apparently). At first weight loss was part of it. I wanted to be under a 100 pounds. Once I got there, I stopped weighing in so regularly. I might step on a scale once a month at this point, just to make sure I’m on track. I’m assuming when I get to a certain weight the losses will stop. If I ever feel I’m getting too thin (not an issue yet) I will think about adjusting my foods.
  • These are the badges I've earned since getting my Fitbit® in Jan, 2013.

    These are the badges I’ve earned since getting my Fitbit® in Jan, 2013.

    I have walked/run an amazing 3,348,000 steps or approximately 1,540 miles. (Not to be confused with the 3,000,000 steps for this calendar year.) Getting in my 8,000 steps/day is a habit, and I rarely let anything, including weather or bad moods, keep me from doing it. I park at the farthest parking spot when I shop. I take the stairs over the elevator. I walk to local businesses rather than drive. I don’t even think about it now. I just do it.

  • I run faster than I ever have in my life. A year ago my normal run was between 1 and 2 miles and I was running 15 min miles. I had one fast run that month (13:37/mile) and one long run (3.5 miles). Now my runs are usually between 3 and 5 miles, with longer runs every other week. My pace is usually in the 11’s with some fast runs in the mid-10’s (twice this month I ran 3.1 at 10:20-something pace).

2e57b67b41c1c5ce75ee3ae8e19621ffSo here I am, 48 years old. A year ago I felt old. I felt tired. I had lost my spark.

One year later I feel more confident in myself. I have some sparkle again. I feel younger than I have in years, and more capable. I feel like I’m falling back in love with myself and it is giving me more energy than I’ve had throughout my forties.

My choices might not work for everyone. In fact, they might not work for anyone but myself. But that is okay, because it is totally working out for me. I have a year of proof!

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3 plus 6 zeros!

So I logged onto Fitbit® today and two wonderful things happened:

First, I found out that Fitbit® fixed its dashboard. For a while it wasn’t showing the totals properly, but as you can see on the screenshot ->

I missed the actual day I hit 3,000,000 steps. It was Friday, November 14

I missed the actual day I hit 3,000,000 steps. It was Friday, November 14

Me doing the happy dance!

Me doing the happy dance!

Second, I realized that I actually hit my 3,000,000 step goal.

This is such a huge accomplishment for me. And to have faithfully stuck with it all year-long is amazing.

I’m not giving up on my daily step goal and I plan to see how many extra steps I will do in the last six weeks left to this year. (Can you believe this year is almost over?) If I push myself, I could potentially do another 500,000 steps, so I think I’m going to shoot for that. (Although the cold weather might make that a little challenging).

Now it is time to think about what my goals and challenges for next year will be.

Home Stretch

I’m pretty upset – not at my October statistics (those are pretty good) but at how fitbit changed their website. I used to be able to type in my start date and end date and get a nice graphic that gave me my total steps, miles, and calories for the time frame. Now, I just get a graph. I had to manually add up my daily totals to get my monthly total. (ok, I used a spreadsheet, but I had to manually enter each number – sheesh!)

The good news is I walked a total of 353,963 steps in October, a new monthly record. I also set a few other records this month, including the highest daily total (33,273) and highest two-day total (58,537) over Columbus Day weekend. I also ran 50.12 miles this month, making it my best running month also, but still short of my 55 mile goal.

octsteps
I’m less than 160,000 steps from my 3,000,000 goal. I had 26 days with over 8,000 steps. Of those, 18 days were over 10,000 steps and a whopping 9 days were over 14,000 steps.

Obligatory Step Update

Another successful month moving towards my step goal of 3,000,000 steps. I took the opportunity to read some of my older monthly posts (like Feb and March) and it was amazing to see how far I’ve come. At the beginning of the year, 3,000,000 steps seemed almost impossible. Now, barring some catastrophe, it seems like a foregone conclusion.

sepsnapshotEven though I could take it easy, now I’m pushing myself to see how quickly I can get to three million steps. Will I do it by the beginning of December? The middle of November? September was pretty consistent with August. I had 27 days with over 8,000 steps. Of those, 18 days were over 10,000 steps and 5 days were over 14,000 steps. My best day was September 20, with 21,640 steps, which was also the day I ran my first 5k race. FYI. That’s a lot of walking in addition to the 3.1 miles I ran that day.

sept_steps
I felt like I ran a lot more, but I actually ran 49 miles, the same as August. My personal monthly goal was 55 miles, but I fell short. Still, I’ve made a lot of progress, so I can’t feel too badly. My best running distance for the month (and ever) was 6.25 (10K) on September 13th. I’ve also been thinking about doing more long runs, like possibly a 10 mile race or even a half marathon.

The Dog Days of Step Challenges

I only learned this year why August is called the “dog days” (thanks google) of summer. Although this August was less sultry and steamy than it was crisp and cool. Some people like that sort of thing. I prefer my August hotter. However, cooler days meant better running weather so for my step challenge, August might be called the “running” days. I was able to clock 49 miles of running (my best for the year so far).

augustfitbit

So, it was another solid month with my Fitbit. I had 26 days with over 8,000 steps. Of those, 17 days were over 10,000 steps and 5 days were over 14,000 steps. My best day was August 24, with 19,863 steps, which was the day I walked with my mother and my daughter on a 5 mile walk along fire island, took the ferry home, and then walked the last mile home.  It was pretty awesome.

auguststeps

Another milestone for the month was I hit the 2/3 mark (2,000,000 steps) about halfway through the month, ahead of schedule. Eh, I have less than a million to go! So I’m pretty pleased. I’m focusing more on my running, but I felts some renewed energy to get my steps done every day. Of the days I missed, most of them were unavoidable. There were a few days I didn’t want to do anything, but I pushed myself, which has led me to feel better about the whole thing.

I’m pleased with my progress this past month and if I’m going to push anything it is to run even more. I’m setting a personal goal for 55 miles in September.

Okay, okay, here it is!

I have been feeling guilty for about a week for not posting my July step challenge update. It isn’t that people have been clamoring for it, but I said I would post monthly and I should stick to that. With the month more than halfway gone (seriously, how fast did the summer go) I really have run out of excuses.

activityJulyIt isn’t as if my July steps were bad and I don’t want to admit it. Actually I was just fine. Not my top month, but definitely met and exceeded my goal. I walked almost 317,000 steps which averages over 10,000 per day. (Definitely a win). I ran 42 miles, my best yet. My runs are getting longer, so I’m hoping to do even better in August.

My best day was July 18, where I took over 21,000 steps. That was the day I ran 6 miles for the first time, a huge personal accomplishment. I had 24 out of 31 days where I walked over 8,000 steps, 19 days with over 10,000 steps, and 5 days with over 14,000 steps.

stepsjulyThere were definitely a few days I didn’t do my steps last month. (July 20-22 I only did 6,000 steps total). And not for any good reason (like illness, injury, or personal commitments) but because I just didn’t feel like it. (Awful excuse) I know for a fact that without my personal challenge goal and knowing that eventually I was going to have to post my results on this blog, those couple of days may have spread to a couple of weeks. After three slothful days it took a heck-of-a-lot of resolve to lace up my shoes again, but I did it, and with a vengeance. I’ve had some of my best runs every the past two weeks.

One thing I’m really excited about is that I’m going to hit 2,000,000 steps in August (probably in the next couple of days, if I work it). It was such a struggle to get to the first 1,000,000 steps, but second million seemed to come up much faster.

Not too cocky, now…

So I saw this on one of the blogs I follow:

Now, in the past this is where I would have gotten cocky and said ok let’s make this mile portion of the goal more difficult. Then something would happen and I would not be able to do as well as I thought I would, I would get discouraged and then give up and end up barely missing my original goal.

Accept the days when running seems impossible; Embrace the days when running seems effortless.

Or as I like to call it, yesterday and today.

And this little thought has been niggling at me since I read it. And when something starts niggling, I just have to write about it.

Yesterday when I ran everything hurt. My ankles. My knees. My back.  It was a tough run and I pushed just to get through it. By contrast, today’s run was great. My first two miles were two of my fastest ever. And just for fun, I ran another two, more slowly, just because I was feeling so darn good.

On days like today I start thinking that my 3,000,000 step goal is too low. Or my 8,000 steps per day is too low. Ha! I can easily do 4,000,000 steps this year, or 10,000 steps per day. I can run every day. And faster. And farther. And….

And that is where I get myself into trouble.  I know from experience that  if I overdo it, I’m going to hurt myself and set myself back. I try to remember how far I’ve come. Right now I’m running better than I ever have, in my entire life. I feel good about it. I enjoy it more. But there is that lurking risk of injury just waiting at the periphery. So I need to settle back, and push myself just enough but not too much. And for this reason, I’m not changing my goal.

At least not now. If I hit 3,000,000 steps in November, or even October, I can always change my goal then. Or not. Or I can come up with a brand new goal. Right now, the important thing is that I’m going to do those 3,000,000 steps, and the 12,000 steps I did today just got added into the pile.

1.5 Million and Counting

So in June I hit a milestone in my 3,000,000 step challenge: I have walked over 1.5 million steps so far this year. This puts me solidly halfway to my goal, with half the year gone. There were times I wondered if I was going to make it, but now that I’m halfway there, I feel pretty confident.  May, of course, was my turn around month, and I didn’t quite do as many steps in June as I did in May, but I came pretty close and easily bested my 250,000 steps per month goal:

june steps

I walked over 330,000 steps, which averages to 11,000 steps per day.  This is equivalent to 150 miles.  Of these, I only ran 30 miles which is less than the last two months. I’m not sure why that happened, because I felt like I was running farther, but I guess not as frequently. My best day was June 10. I took over 19,000 steps that day. I had 25 days where I walked over 8,000 steps, 20 of which I walked over 10,000 and had a record 7 days with over 14,000 steps. All good.

stepsthrujune

 

I wish I could run a report to see how many of these days I did the bulk of my steps after 10 pm, because I’m pretty sure that there must be at least 10-15 days that I didn’t even get to my steps until the wee hours. Sometimes it was family obligations that kept me busy. Other times it was work that kept me sedentary until I could finally break away. More frequently it was the combination of the two. If I didn’t have this goal in mind, there would have been plenty of opportunities to see “Screw it” and not bother with walking or running. Knowing I have to report my monthly progress, and the inner desire to meet a challenge I set for myself kept me motivated. And most of the time, once I got out there I was glad I did.

Other people are working towards running races or marathons or single day events, but my goal works for me. I know that come December, I’m going to want to see my 3,000,000 steps behind me.

No Run, No Walk, No Guilt

Sometimes you just need to enjoy the wallow. (Advice I give my daughter from time to time.)

Sometimes you just need to enjoy the wallow. (Advice I give my daughter from time to time.)

Yesterday was one of my “blue” days. It started out with me spending hours on a work project that should have taken only an hour or two… Actually it ended there, too, because the work project sucked my day dry. At a certain point I knocked off, not because I was done, but because I was done! I should have gone out for a run. Or maybe even a walk. There was plenty of daylight even.

I had been sitting in my chair all day and I knew what I was supposed to do. I even knew I would feel better if I did it. But I just didn’t want to. And I didn’t want to feel bad about it either.

I do my steps every day… or most days. If I do miss a day it is because I’m sick, or work crazed, or life crazed. Like the other night where I was in my car for 8 hours, at a friends party for 5 hours, and missed my step goal by 200 because I actually ran out time. (Just like Cinderella, my fitbit resets at midnight).

This was different. I really wanted, craved inactivity. I didn’t want to clean, cook, work, run, or do anything productive. Most of the time I shake it off and do what I’m supposed to. But yesterday I didn’t. I wallowed. I vegged. I made like bread and loafed about. I danced the couch potato… (Yeah, that’s all I have)

I was guilty about it as I was doing it. I thought, you could just shake it off and get going, you know. I reminded myself that the rest of the week would be harder. But I did it anyway. And by the end of the night I didn’t even feel bad about it anymore.

And guess what. Nothing happened. The sky didn’t fall. The earth didn’t shatter. I actually feel just fine today. I got back to work, finished my project, ate my correct food, ran 2.25 miles and will somehow manage to get my steps in by the end of the day.

So I’m over the guilt. (Baby steps)

5 Lessons I’ve Learned From Fitbit®

Of course mine is pink. That's the point, right?

Of course mine is pink. That’s the point, right?

Without my Fitbit® I wouldn’t even have a 3,000,000 step challenge. I got mine as a gift two Christmases ago when I was trying (again!) to get back to Weight Watchers. I thought it would help motivate me, but I had no idea how much this tiny technology would change my life.

I got very sick shortly after getting my Fitbit. I was in and out of the hospital twice and had major abdominal surgery. There were several weeks where walking 1,000 steps seemed an unreachable challenge. During my early convalescence I couldn’t wear the Fitbit because I couldn’t wear anything on my waist, but after a few days I was able to put it on.  I remember my first goal was 250 steps. Each one was painful. But within a week I was able to walk over 1,000 steps and within a month I was up to 5,000 steps.  And that was my first lesson learned:

I will survive this, and be stronger for it.

Over the past year and a half, I have used my Fitbit religiously. I wear it all the time. Normally it is hooked on my pant waistband or belt. When I wear dresses I attach it under the dress right on my underwear. I even wear it to bed, on the waistband of my pajamas. I don’t have one of the fancy, new Fitbit products that track sleep, but I like to know that if I get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, the Fitbit will record my 18 steps. You know- just in case!

And in reflection, I’ve gotten a lot more than a counting of steps from this little device. Here are some other lessons learned:

Every day is a new start

The Fitbit recounts to zero every day at midnight, regardless of what my day has been like. Whether I’ve had a good day or a bad one, whether I’ve walked 10 steps or 10,000, tomorrow is whole new day. This helps me put the past behind me. I look at every day as a clean slate. It is what I do today that matters. I can’t fix yesterday, I can’t go back and change my decisions or actions, but neither can I rest on my laurels. And I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. The only thing I can control is what I’m doing right now, today.

A step is a step

The Fitbit doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care if I run 2,000 steps in 11 minutes or walk them briskly in 15 minutes, or meander slowly for 30 minutes. It simply counts each step equally. Likewise, it doesn’t care if I sit on my butt all day and then run my steps in one long run, or if a stop and start a hundred times. Each step counts as one step. This helps me pace myself, both in fitness and in life. Being the fastest, the strongest, the smartest isn’t necessarily being the best. Endurance and perseverance are rewarded in the long-term. I try to remember that with my work and my personal life as well. The number one quality that “winners” all share is they don’t quite and they don’t give up.

Every step counts

Footprints In The SandIn Weight Watchers they tell you that even little things make a big difference, like parking at the far end of the parking lot or walking up stairs rather than taking the elevator. Until I had my Fitbit, I didn’t really see how little things like that could make a difference. But now I do.

I always park at the farthest spot in the lot, just for those extra 40 or 50 steps. And I always choose the stairs over the elevator when I have a choice. When going around town, I frequently think “Should I walk or drive?” If I won’t be carrying anything heavy, I usually choose walking.

I also walk now in times and places where I used to sit: While waiting for a train or planes, for example. I walk up and down the train platform and I’ve literally done miles in airports waiting for planes. Or on my lunch break. I used to sit and check Facebook, but now I’m more likely to walk around the block, or (as I did last week) around the aisles of the auditorium. I’m surprised at how many times and places I’ve found to add a few extra steps to my day.

Everyone needs friends

I was the first of my friends and family to get a Fitbit, but it wasn’t long before my circle of Fitbit friends grew. First my mom got one. Then she got one for my daughter. I got one as a gift for my friend, who convinced her daughter to get one. Little by little my circle of friends grew. We “cheer” each other on and send supportive messages. Sometimes seeing how many steps my friends are doing gives me just a little encouragement to go another half mile.

A talisman has the power you give it

I may be obsessive, but I touch my Fitbit about a 100 times a day. Maybe more. I’ve probably touched it 5 times during the writing of this article. When I first started wearing it, I would touch it from time to time to make sure it was still there and hadn’t fallen off somehow. Over time I started just touching it just to make sure I had remembered to wear it, or to remind myself to exercise. Soon, though, I found it had become a reassuring habit. Touching my Fitbit reminds me of my journey, of my commitment to myself. Touching it reminds me that I am in control and helps me feel empowered. Over time it has become more than a tool for fitness, but the touchstone of that part of my life.