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. 

Advertisements

A New Year Start

happy new year2015 was a great year for me, health wise:

It may be the first time in my life that I maintained my weight (staying within 5 lbs) for a solid year. No drastic ups or downs – just clean eating (mostly) and pretty relaxed about diet.

I learned a lot about accepting my body this year. I’m appreciative of my health and not so wrapped up about my weight.

It was definitely a banner year for me in terms of meeting my fitness goals:

  • I ran over 1,000 miles (1,023.3 to be exact) and walked over 4,000,000 steps (4,361,000, but who’s counting?)
  • I completed my first half marathon in under 3 hours (2:35:58)

2015 running monthlyI have to be honest, I wasn’t sure I was going to make the 1,000 miles. The last few months the only thing that got me out running was the fact that I really, really, wanted to hit the 1,000 mark. It took me until late December, but I’m so happy I did it!

My third goal for the year was to write weekly about things I’ve learned. That didn’t quite happen. I used this blog quite a bit to get ready for the half, but then life, work, and other things took precedence, and I haven’t posted since September.

In all, I only wrote  9 truths and with only 14 weeks until I turn 50, I don’t know if I’m going to be able to (or even want to) meet this goal anymore.  I am going to re-read the ones I did write, because I think it will help me get back into that head space.

The thing about meeting (or not meeting) goals is that you always have to set new ones.  I can’t just repeat my goals from a previous year. Where’s the challenge in that? So here they are, my official 2016 goals for the year:

  • Run 1,250 miles because I totally have to up the ante, and I want to commit to running at least 100 miles each month.
  • Finish a marathon in less than 6 hours which sounds both totally doable and completely insane.
  • Complete 50 hours of yoga because I see that my body needs more than just running, so this works out to about an hour a week.
  • Grow something to eatThis one is a little bit out there, and was inspired by a cool blog post (10 Food Resolutions That Don’t Involve Body Shame). I do not have a green thumb, I never grow things, and I rarely cook, but I thought this might take me out of my comfort zone a little and I like that idea quite a bit.

So there you are! What are your goals for 2016?

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.

Run For Your Life (literally, it seems)

runninglegs

My take-away: Not exercising is way more damaging to health than being fat. Don’t exercise to get thin; exercise to get strong. Strong is healthy at any size.

So while reading one of my favorite blogs, I ran across an article from the Los Angeles Times Science Section claims that if you can run for 5 minutes a day, you may add years to your life.  The article is actually based on a real scientific study (unlike many Internet articles) from the Journal of the American College of Cardiology which found that running had a positive impact on your life expectancy.

Put another way, non-runners were 24% more likely than runners to die during the study period. In fact, the mortality risk associated with not running was greater than the mortality risk associated with being overweight or obese (16%), having a family history of cardiovascular disease (20%), or having high cholesterol (6%).

Interestingly enough, you don’t have to be very fast or run very far: According to the study, just running 30-50 minutes per week made a big difference. Also, 15 minutes of brisk walking had a similar positive effect.

Of course this is just one study, and there are limits (“Most of the adults who were tracked were college-educated, middle-class or upper-middle-class whites.”) but it does seem to support some of the other research I’ve been seeing and supporting the getting healthy at every size campaign that many promote. (Not to be confused with Size Acceptance, which is also important).

I did find another study that said you can overdo it; high-mileage runners (over 3 hours per week) have shorter lifespans, so that’s something to keep in mind. I would like to see more studies like this, and to expand the studies to see if swimming, biking, or other forms of exercise make such a difference.

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.