How I Went from 3,000 steps a day to 10,000

I didn’t realize how lazy and inactive I had become until I downloaded a pedometer app on my phone called Pacer. One of the best decisions I ever made. Why? Because this app provides accountability. It doesn’t lie or fudge the numbers. It is brutally honest in the way that only a truly great friend can be. So, for the first day, I didn’t pay attention to it. I just let it run in the background and it would give me my step count the following morning. My first full day was on June 29, 2016 and I walked 4600 steps. I did 4,000 the next day, then 7800, then 6200 and Sunday was my lazy day at 2900. I was averaging about 3,000 to 4,000 steps a day for that first month. So, I had a brutally honest baseline that told me I was lazy and inactive. At least I knew. It is funny to think back on this as I have already surpassed 3,000 steps before I started writing this at 8:30 in the morning.

If you can find the motivation to get up and be active early in the morning, you will have a huge head start on the average person. And don’t say you aren’t a morning person; that is an excuse that prevents you from achieving your full potential. If you can ignore that snooze button, you’ve just bought yourself 15 minutes to get a decent start on your steps. It may not sound like much, but these little habits really add up. Maybe this is different for other people, but I found that the earlier I get my steps in, the more likely I am to hit my goal. Once I eat dinner, I tend to slow down for the day. The early morning before work and the afternoon are usually when I get the bulk of my steps.

Like many others, I was sitting at a desk during most of the day, and this made for an inactive lifestyle. I knew if I kept it up, I would continue to pack on pounds and put myself at risk for health issues such as heart disease, diabetes and stroke. So, I sought to change my lifestyle and become more active. I started going for walks around the block which turned out to be almost a mile. To change it up, I would take different routes. I would go walk to the local boat dock and stare out at the water. This peaceful scenery gave me an incentive to get up and be active. These quick little walks gave me an extra 2,000 steps a day, but they did so much more. They gave me a boost of energy and cleared my head for a bit. It allowed me to get back to work with a fresh mind and more alertness. Many of us struggle around early afternoon with our energy levels, and these little walks have worked wonders for me.

It is important to remember to not overextend yourself, or you are more likely to give up. If you are doing 3,000 steps a week, set a goal for 4,000 steps. After you have accomplished that, bump up your goal for 5,000. The great thing about this Pacer app is that it allows you to set a custom goal. This is how I did it, and now I am up to 10,000 steps which I am able to achieve on most days.  Setting more reachable goals allows you to get a sense of accomplishment and to take in your progress as you become more active.

Another tip for hitting 10,000 steps a day that has been very helpful is to overachieve. I can average 10,000 steps in a day, but it is difficult to hit 10,000 steps every day. Eventually I will get too busy or caught up with daily life and I’ll have a 5,000 or 6,000 step day. By going the extra mile on other days, I can make up for this. I occasionally will have a more active day and I’ll push myself to hit 15,000 or so. That way when the inevitable day off or busy day arrives, I won’t feel so disappointed. I’ve always been fonder of biking or lifting weights so going after the steps is attacking one of my weaknesses. Now I can hit 20,000 steps on the really active days. This app gamifies your life in a positive manner. You’ll find yourself going the extra mile to hit your target steps or to try and beat your personal best.

Now here is where it likely gets tricky for many of you. If you think you can’t hit 10,000 steps in a day, you need to rethink your hobbies. If you sit in an office all day being inactive and then come home to watch 3 hours of the Cubs game, you have excellent taste in baseball. Just kidding. If you spend that much time during the day watching a screen, do you really want to spend your afternoons or evenings doing the same? Now as Oscar Wilde says, “Moderation is good, in moderation,” but if you want to get in shape and be more active, you’ll have to sacrifice some of your lazier hobbies. It is just so hard to justify spending 3 hours in a day on a couch watching other people exercise. Maybe you aren’t ready to give up that hobby yet and we can compromise here. Instead of sitting on the couch for 3 hours straight, try getting up every commercial and just walking around the house, or take a quick walk outside at halftime. So little time in a football game is devoted to actual play time so this method can lead to a large number of steps.

It’s all about changing your lifestyle. That is why diets don’t work. With the typical diet, people will lose their weight while they are dieting. Then when they lost the weight, they go back to their old and unhealthy lifestyle which causes the weight to come back on. People who consistently stay active and eat well are the ones who will consistently look healthy and attractive. If there was an easy hack or pill, we wouldn’t be in the middle of the obesity epidemic. Take action now by enacting small changes to lead a healthier and thus more awesome life. It all starts with accountability for your own activity or lack thereof. Pull up the app store and download Pacer. Look for HelmofAwesome on there and add me. We can help keep each other accountable.