The Truth About 10000 Steps and Your Health

Hear my confession, oh Internet: I was a running snob. I looked down on walkers with 100% Grade A pure disdain with a heaping side of superiority. In the supermarket checkout line, I full-on “pfffted” at magazine headlines proclaiming, “Walk yourself thin.”

I mean walking was for underachieving lazy people. Why walk for an hour and get only one mile, maybe two, when you could run for twenty-five minutes and travel 5K? Oh I was never a speedy runner, but I was fast enough to justify my tortoise and the hare snobbery . . . at least in my mind.

My knee in all of its swollen glory. My daughter thought it looked like a Cabbage Patch Doll. So she added eyes. Because laughing hysterically at my pain is the same as an “I love you”, right?!

In February of 2014, something popped and intractable pain ensued; leading me to get arthroscopic surgery in April. Now before you pull on your own McJudgy pants (I’m picturing them as plaid) and scoff, “See, that is what you get for running,” just know that it was genetics more than running that got my knee.

Not to brag, but when I woke up from anesthesia my surgeon ever so gently told me that I have the knee of a seventy-year-old woman. But don’t cry for my knee; she is relieved to be  getting the Senior Discount at the movies. That popcorn is sooooo overpriced.

During my seven week recovery period, Booty and Chair really became an item. They had flirted on and off leading up to the surgery, but no real connection bloomed until Crutches formally introduced them.

Should I have realized that Booty and Chair were no good for each other? That they were on a collision course headed for mom jeans and muffin tops? Sure, in normal times. But when I wasn’t lamenting, I was pouting about how awful it was that I could no longer run. Why bother moving at all if I couldn’t move in the most efficient, hard-as-nails way possible? “No pain, no gain” was the battle cry in the 80s and I was nothing if not

So what did my attitude get me? Fat. It got me fat. By Christmas, I was fifteen pounds heavier than I had ever been pregnant. In a theory I will never be foolish enough to test–my old maternity clothes would not fit me. Take a moment of silence for that soul-sucking sadness.

Ten thousand steps is a great number because unless you have a very active job like nursing or working in a warehouse, you need about 30 minutes of brisk walking in addition to your normal life steps to reach 10000.

So to recap, walking is good enough and humans are lazy liars who are fantastic at deluding themselves. Or at least I am. I don’t know if you were playing along at home, but I was only hitting 3000 steps before my fitness revelation. I WAS A SEDENTARY SLOTH! While sloths are adorable, carrying thirty extra pounds is not. I needed to change.

If you are gaining weight, the truth is you are eating too much and the only way to get to the bottom of it is to keep a food diary. I logged into My Fitness Pal (MFP) app for the first time since 2009 to track my food. It has improved so much! You can easily find calorie counts for Weight Watcher and Skinnytaste recipes and you can scan the barcode of packaged foods.

. Fitbit and MFP work wonderfully together to track your energy in versus energy out. MFP will even calculate how many calories you burned from active exercise logged on your Fitbit and figure those into your calories allowed total. Also, you can link up with friends so you can

I have invested the time in cooking healthy meals and stocking my kitchen with healthy snacks. I cannot “diet” and deprive myself, but I know how to eat nutritious, delicious foods that boost my health and keep me satisfied.

For the past 30 days, I have moved 10000 steps each and EVERY day. Probably about 3000 to 5000 of these steps are achieved on the treadmill at speeds between 3.0 and 5.0 with most of them happening at 4.0, but if I can get outside, I prefer that. I have also been known to do four extra laps around the grocery store to get my steps in. If I am feeling sluggish, I convince myself  walking at 3.0 on the treadmill is better than sitting and usually by a minute into it, I feel like ramping up the speed. I subscribe to the

. No matter how fast I am going, I usually ramp up the speed by 1.0-1.5 for about a minute at a time. If I am on the treadmill for 30 minutes, I usually interval up five or six times. I also set the incline for 1 or 2 to make sure my intensity is good enough. I would go higher, but it hurts my knee.

with a weighted hoop every day. Talk about an effortless abdominal and glutes workout! Exercise can be fun. I am a convert! (Caveat: your ribs and hips might feel a little bruised at first, so start with about a minute of hooping. This feeling disappeared for me after about 2 days. I think consciously tightening your abs while hooping also helps.)

I have been doing low weight/high repetition arm work and Pilates style ab work (planks and push-ups are my frenemies) two or three times per week. I often do the weights while on the treadmill. I have also been doing

I have MFP set for 1.5 lb/per week weight loss. This allows me 1220 calories per day, which I admit is hard to maintain EXCEPT I really end up eating between 1300 and 1475 calories per day because of my Fitbit exercise credit. It is a bit of a mind game, but it works for me.

I have not skipped meals and I never allow myself to become ravenous. Basically, I have been eating around 350 calories each for breakfast and lunch making sure to include protein. To reach these goals, I have banished most bread, but I still eat carbs. I think carbs are delicious and get a bad rap from the haters. For dinners, I have been preparing tasty, family-pleasing options such as

In thirty days, I have lost just over ten pounds (one third of the way to my goal) and several inches from my waist, booty, and arms. I have leveled down to the next size of jeans in my closet. I feel tremendously more comfortable in my own skin already. And of note, I have not felt denied. During this 30 days, I have celebrated my birthday with a wonderful weekend in Philadelphia where I ate the likes of bacon wrapped dates, empanadas, crispy Cuban pork, and salted caramel cheesecake (all in one day, yikes!). Just know on that day I walked for close to 16000 steps all over the city and I locked her down that Monday and Tuesday, eating about 1250 calories each day.

♦Adequate levels of fitness take more than a casual stroll, but they also don’t require 90 minutes of marathon running and weight lifting. Don’t let the whispers of perfectionism immobilize you- “If you aren’t working hard, what’s the point of working at all?” Just move! An object in motion tends to stay in motion and it’s surprising what you can achieve if you just take that first step. I still miss the “high” from running, but my knee appreciates walking and the ten less pounds it has to haul around.

♦Accountability is key. My overachieving self can’t help but beat the 10000 step goal each and every day on my FItbit. Plus, since I can link up with my friends, THEY can see if I’m reaching my goals, too. Pride, in this case, works for me.

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