Did you hear that bellow of “GOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLLL” on Sunday morning? No, that wasn’t an overenthusiastic fan at the FIFA Women’s world cup – that was me, reaching my weight goal after more than a year of (admittedly on-and-off) trying. Yay me!
Even better than meeting my weight goal, though, has been that I’m meeting my movement goals. Even though I’ve had my FitBit for more than two years now, it’s only since this spring that I’ve been consistently meeting my goal of 10.000 steps each day. A goal of 10K steps per day is sort of arbitrary, I’ll admit, but I’ve read a lot of studies that say it’s an ideal point to maintain fitness and lower your risk of things like heart disease and diabetes. And the best part? It’s a genuinely achievable goal, even for a sedentary girl like me.
So, from lazy me to you, here’s 10 things you can do to step up and meet that 10,000 steps per day goal.
1. Wear comfortable shoes. I picked up a second pair of running shoes and keep them in my office. It’s surprising what a difference this makes!
2. Step-load the early part of the day. This may work for me because I’m also naturally a morning person, but I try to get in as many steps as I can as early in the day as I can. When you’re at the end of the day, you’re much more likely to make an effort to take a quick walk around the block to overcome a 1,200 step deficit than plan a hike to make up 4,000 steps.
3. Set a task reminder to move. I must have seen this tip recommended a hundred times, but have only taken it to heart recently. I have a task reminder set up at work to go off every 90 minutes, and when it goes off I have to stop what I’m doing, walk down the four flights of stairs to the main floor, walk the length of the building, and walk back up again. It’s the best part of 1,000 steps, and it’s really quite amazing how much it clears your head.
4. Leave your car in a central area and walk your errands. With a parking lot in front of each big-box store, it’s tempting to move your car from lot to lot as you go from store to store. Resist the urge, or park a bit further away if you’re just going to one spot.
5. Think of walking as a me-time indulgence rather than an obligation. This was a huge one for me. Once I stopped thinking of getting my steps in as a drudge and started thinking of the time as an indulgence, I found myself working harder to make time for it. And walking is a gift to yourself – mentally and physically. You deserve it!
6. Find a buddy. Tristan comes with me when I walk the dog every night, and he sets a brisk pace that’s natural for his coltish teenage legs but a challenge for me to keep up. It’s also a wonderful quiet interlude to suss out things that may be weighing on his mind, or for us to catch up on our busy days. At the office, my friend Annie and I have taken invigorating lunch-time walks that breezed by in the depths of conversations. I find that keeping up with my FitBit friends online also serves as a motivator when I feel like slacking. I am the opposite of competitive in most things, but I hate to fall out of the leaderboard on FitBit!
7. Make it part of your routine. After a while, finding small ways to pad your day with extra steps becomes second nature. I’ve started circling my office building to use a different entrance each time I come or go, adding a couple of hundred steps each time. I also figured out that I had just enough time to park my car in the driveway after work and hop on my bike to get to the boys’ school in time to walk them back home again. I am really missing the extra kilometer of steps from the after-school routine this week!
8. Make it fun! Listen to a podcast, or your favourite music while you walk. If you’re particularly dexterous and can’t stand the idea of missing the latest activity on your social networks, walk while surfing your smartphone. Or, choose a beautiful place to explore on your walk – drive to a neighbourhood you don’t often visit, or find a trail to walk.
9. Bring or borrow a pet. Sometimes, the idea that the dog is counting on me is the only thing that motivates me to get out in poor weather, or after a particularly long day. She doesn’t mind walking in the rain or snow, and inspires me not to mind so much either. We haven’t melted yet!
10. Be kind to yourself – each day is a clean slate. While I now make my step goal six or seven days each week (as opposed to making it two or three days each week this time last year), I don’t beat myself up if I don’t make it every single day. I have consistently made my weekly goal of 70,000 steps each week since Easter, though. Turns out when you aim for 10K steps a day, you often land somewhere closer to 12,000 or 14,000 steps a day!
And now, a bonus tip for FitBit Zip users!
I got my first Zip back in January of 2013, and upgraded to a Flex about a year ago. I still use my Zip as a backup when the flex is charging, though. I used to hate the idea of “losing” the steps between first waking up in the morning and when I’d get dressed for the day and tuck my Zip into my pocket or clip it to my bra, so I’d carry it around in my PJ pocket – and then inevitably forget to move it when I got dressed. All that to say, I wish I’d had the brainstorm two years ago that I had last month when I discovered the Best! FitBit Zip! Accessory! Ever!! Are you ready for it?
A hairband! Seriously, why did I not think of this before? So when I want to record my steps before I get dressed (or, ahem, after I put on my jammies!) I just do this:
I’ve also been known to actually attach the Zip to my ponytail in the pool or while doing yoga.
You know that old expression, “Look after the pennies and the dollars will look after themselves”? It’s like that with steps, too. Find a dozen times to add 100 steps to your day, and you’re there!
What do you think of the goal to walk 10,000 steps a day? Do you do it? Any other tips to share?