Steps vs walking

Literally the high point of my week.

Wednesday  was a rough day. I could have ended up with fewer than 1,000 steps. But I didn’t. I pushed myself to walk before bed. It was a hard decision. Between work and family I didn’t have 5 min to myself until about 9 pm. 

I could have justified going to bed. It was late. It was dark. It was freaking cold out. I was tired. But I went out anyway and walked until I hit 8,000 steps.  

If  I had skipped the walk that night, I’m not sure I would have gotten up early yesterday morning to do my 20 min workout (more about that later). I thought about what had motivated me in the past and one thing that worked was to get 8,000 steps no matter what. I know most people have a 10,000 step goal but I think if I had to try for 10,000 when I’m at 800. For me an 8,000 step goal is so much more attainable. 

So I did it and even though it was cold and I’m glad I did it. Every positive choice leads to another positive choice. Each negative choice gives permission for other. Festive choices. 

Having said this, getting in my steps is a stop-gap at best. It isn’t fun and if I do that every day this whole thing will unravel again. It will become a chore. 

So yesterday I made a choice to take a walk.  Unlike getting steps, taking a walk is about taking time for me. It is enjoyable. It builds me up. I chose the middle of the day, in sunshine, and at the beach. There is nothing that I enjoy more. Because of work my time was limited, but I left feeling ebullient. 

Today I tried to get my walk in, but the whole day was a disaster from beginning to end. At 6:30 pm, with a mountain of work still to wade through, I decided to walk. I have to go back to the emails and spreadsheets before bed, but squeezing in a walk while there was a smidgen of daylight seemed better then squeezing it in as midnight approaches. 

And I’m really sure that if I had skip today, I would have been undone again. 

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Be accountable.

31 weeksGoals are important, but unless you are accountable to those goals, they may not mean much. Writing down your goals makes them more real than just thinking about them. Sharing your goals with others is even better.

mapmyrun

There is no way I would ever be able to run 1,000 miles this year if I didn’t keep up with this blog.

I have several levels of accountability when it comes to my lifestyle changes. Probably the most important is this blog (and to a smaller extent my twitter account ). I don’t have an extremely high readership by any stretch, but once I post something, it becomes real to me. Sometimes I backtrack on what I write (yes, I made up with peanut butter) but the act of writing makes me more thoughtful on what I commit to.

Tracking is another great tool for me. I use Fitbit® and mapmyrun to track my daily, weekly, and yearly progress. I may want to skip a run or just stay in bed for a week, but just looking at my own numbers keeps me moving. For example, my daily step goal is 8k steps and many nights I’ve looked to see only 5k, 6k, or even 7,599 and decided I better just finish off my steps. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taken an 11 pm walk just to get the numbers on my Fitbit over 8,000. Not just because friends and family are following me, but because the numbers remind me how important my goals are to me.

accountabilityAnd it’s not just exercise.  For the last two years I’ve written down everything I ate. It may seem strange since I pretty much eat the same thing every day, but I find that if I don’t write it down, it doesn’t count in my mind. No one sees my food log (and a food log may seem very diet-y for a non-diet person) but when I don’t write it down it is easy to fall into old habits and slip in the foods that de-rail me. For me, this also lets me be more non-diet.  If I want to eat something not on my program I do and don’t worry about it.  For example, on my recent vacation I enjoyed some brownies and an absolutely delicious piece of cheesecake. I tracked and moved on. No regrets, no guilt, and no pretending I didn’t do it.

And that is the ultimate accountability – to myself. Whether I track my progress or share my goals, I need to be honest with myself. I owe it to myself to invest the time and energy into myself.

My Plan Is Not For You

magic_pill

A few weeks back I wrote about (among other things) that people are always asking me about my weight loss. Most of the time I don’t want to talk about what I eat or my exercise program because I feel like people think there is a magic pill and that I’m keeping it a big secret.

If I do actually get into a conversation with someone (a close friend or someone who is obviously in pain and self-doubt) I usually try to steer back to my core beliefs about addiction and self-love. But it rarely goes well:

  • First, they just want to talk about the changes in habit, not the changes in mind.
  • Second, everything I tell them seems to require some type of argument or excuse.

Here are a few examples:

What I say… What they say… What I think…
I don’t eat (wheat, sugar, preservatives, etc.) My doctor told me to eat… or, I have this important dietary reason I can’t eat what you eat…  So talk to your doctor, not me!
I eat the same thing for breakfast and lunch every day I would get bored and give up after 1 week or I don’t like that thing you eat (yogurt, almonds, brown rice, black beans, etc.) I really don’t care what you eat.
I run several times a week I can’t run because of this important physical issue, or I can’t stand running.  Did I ask you to run? Find your own fun.
I use my fitbit to track my steps daily My phone has an app that works better than your fitbit. But it hasn’t changed my habits.  Ummm…..Why are we having this conversation?

There is a sexiness to this one, that isn't overt. Just enough...

It doesn’t matter how many times I say, “This works for me and my body but may not have an impact on you or your body.” It doesn’t matter when I say, “You absolutely should talk to your doctor about what may or may not work for your special physical or health issue.”  And it really, really doesn’t matter how many times I say, “For me it’s about never being on a diet again and just finding a way to be healthy and whole.”

There is no formula. I haven’t invented the next fad diet. I don’t want to convince others to do what I’m doing. And I’m certainly not judging what you are eating or if/how you are working out. I found a way to balance my life and feel strong and beautiful and whole.  You can find it too, but not by looking at me.

Dusting Off My Blog

skunkdustingIt is time to dust off my blog again.

I’ve had this blog since 2010, but if you look at my archives I have periods where I write a lot and periods where I write very little. 2014 was my most prolific year, and this blog really helped me regroup and rethink.  I changed by eating habits, my workout habits, and most importantly, my habits of mind.  I stopped thinking about losing weight, and focused instead on gaining back pieces of myself:  my self-esteem, my courage, my power, my health.

You may think that when I stopped blogging I regressed back to my old life and my old habits, but that is not the case. I have been really good about focusing on me and not letting bad habits creep back in. I stick to my “cold turkey” food plan that helped me control my food addictions. I wear my fitbit religiously and try to get my 8,000 steps daily. And most importantly, I work daily on learning to love and care for myself. The only thing was, I had gotten so good at it, I didn’t really need this blog anymore.

But now I’m starting a new challenge, and on days like today, I really need some support.

Last year (2014) my goal was to walk 3,000,000 steps, which I accomplished and then some! This year, I have two separate goals. One is to run a half marathon (I am planning on doing the Suffolk County Half Marathon in September) and the other is to run 1,000 miles this year.

achieving-goalsThe first goal I feel pretty good about.I’ve already started my training, running longer distances and I barring an unforeseen illness or injury, I should be able to accomplish this one. The only question will be how fast I will do it and if I will be able to run the whole distance.

The second goal seems a bit far-fetched. Last year I only ran about 445 miles, so I’m effectively doubling that. The good news is that I’ve already run 220 miles this year. The bad news is, we are already 4 months into the year and I’m only 1/4 of the way towards my goal.

So I’m coming back to my blog, which has always been a great comfort and support in helping me meet my challenges, deal with my disappointments, and focus on what is important.  Having said that, I’m going to publish this post, put on some running clothes, and get myself outside.

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!

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.