On December 30th I was all set and ready to hop on the “new year new me bandwagon”. I dug out my list of resolutions from last year (that I never accomplished) and rewrote them. Then I thought – I don’t actually want to change on January 1st! I still have at least two boxes of chocolate and fair few bottles of wine in the house and really Christmas isn’t over until the 6th of January…
One thing I learned this year is that unless you’re ready and willing to change, there’s not really much point in trying to change. I always find January a fairly depressing month anyway after the comedown from Christmas and I feel like completely restricting yourself and setting unrealistic goals only makes it 10 times harder! When you break, as most people inevitably will it can be very disappointing and disheartening and that’s when most people give up. Setting more realistic goals and accepting that you might slip up every so often is a much better approach to making a change. If you can learn to accept it, move on and start again you’ll have a much better chance of keeping up whatever changes you’ve made in the long term.
To avoid that feeling this year I’ve decided to just make one change for January. And instead of giving something up and feeling like I’m restricting myself I’m taking something up – walking. It’s simple, specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and has a time-frame – so basically it has all the components of a “SMART” goal. More specifically I’m aiming to walk 10,000 steps a day everyday. This doesn’t have to be all in one go though! As long as I get the steps in throughout the day I’m happy but over the last few days I have found that it really does take that extra bit of conscious effort to reach 10k steps!
The reason I picked this as my goal is because I wanted something that I could work and focus on everyday – something that I could easily do and feel a sense of reward/achievement after. I’ve made the mistake in the past of setting unrealistic fitness goals and then feeling totally demotivated when I didn’t achieve them. I think that 10,000 steps is still challenging but isn’t totally unrealistic either. I also had a FitBit lying around so thought it was the perfect opportunity to finally recharge it – it’s really motivating to be able to see the amount of steps you take appear on screen and I find it really motivating.
Why 10,000 steps?
- 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day is the recommendation for adults. While some days I would easily get this in the gym, I realised that on the other days I probably wasn’t. The main reason is because I tend to drive everywhere for convenience so don’t really have to do much walking, which counts towards the 30 minutes.
- Sitting for long periods is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes and heart disease (even if you do a lot of exercise too). I realise that I spend a lot of time sitting (either in college, studying, blogging, driving, socializing or watching tv) so thought that more walking and actively deciding not to use my car would help. If you’re curious about how much time you spend sitting I found this really good sitting time calculator here.
- 10,000 steps works out at about 5 miles or 8km which I felt was a good aim for me. I’ve found that to reach this involves one brisk walk a day and then just being a bit more active (getting off the bus a stop earlier, taking the stairs instead of the lift, bringing in the shopping bags in two to three trips instead of one epic trip). Basically I feel that it’s doable but does require that little bit of extra effort to reach the full 1ok!
- It’s free!
- It’s a way of getting outside, clearing your head and reducing stress and anxiety.
- It’s a rare break from phones and computer screens too!
- It’s a way of socialising that doesn’t revolve around food or alcohol – grab a friend and go for a walk or plan a hike (these ones in and around Dublin look good).
I”ll be posting my progress on social media as I go along (on Snapchat @superfitfoodie, Instagram @the_superfit_foodie and Facebook) but I’ll also do a blog post at then end of the week to show how I’ve got on!
If you’re thinking of doing it too here are a few tips!
- Get a FitBit – I got sent a FitBit a few months ago and while I used it religiously for weeks, when it ran out of battery I stopped. I dug it out again though and through that and the FitBit app I can monitor my daily steps (as well as sleep pattern which is pretty cool). I have the FitBit Flex which is the most basic one but it has everything you need! There are fancier ones which can monitor your heartrate and hook up to your phone to show calls/messages etc. but I find the basic one perfect!
- Get a pedometer – The original step counter. No fuss, no need to understand technology – just clip on and go. It’s also perfect if you work somewhere where you can’t wear watches or jewellery. Bonus is that they’re really cheap – here’s one for a fiver in Argos.
- Use your phones inbuilt step sensor (some iPhones and Samsungs have inbuilt step counters).
- Challenge your friends, family or work colleagues. Set targets or make teams and see who reaches them. If your friends have FitBits then you can actually join challenges on the app and see each others progress throughout the day – I find it a good incentive and have joined with a few friends already!
- Pick a target that suits you – if you aren’t currently that active then you don’t need to aim for 10k straight away. What you should do is count your steps on a normal day and then aim to beat that the next day. Your initial target might be 4000 steps – aim to increase it gradually over time.