Recap of 1,000 Days
Today, September 9, 2022, marks Day 1,000 for a journey that began on December 15, 2019, or nearly three years ago. I walked 5.3 miles, or 11,177 steps, on that day and began a commitment to walk at least five miles every day. Actually, I started with a goal of 10,000 steps per day and then raised it to five miles, which is about 10,500 steps. Well, I actually committed to trying to be regular with my walking, and the days just kept piling up. To recap, my walking stats include:
I walked five miles or more (about 10,400 steps) every day for 451 days when I pulled a groin muscle and was off four days from March 10-13, 2021.
Then I walked for 251 consecutive five-mile or plus days until October 15, 2021. On that day, I took an attitude adjustment day to prove to myself that the habit was more important than any string of consecutive days.
My next string of 150 days was ended by a two-day bout with food poisoning that absolutely shut me down for March 15-16, 2022.
This next string ended at 84 days when, on June 9, 2022, I came down with an energy-sucking grunge of some kind. I was tested for COVID, of course, but multiple of the doctor-administered tests came back negative. I did not hit five miles for nine days.
And now, Thursday, September 9, 2022 marks an 84 day string of days leading to Day 1,000 since I began this walking journey.
Walking has become a way of life. It is just something I do every day, with intention. I’m thinking about what I’ll do the next day to get my miles each evening. And when I wake up each morning, I try to spend 20-30 minutes stretching and figuring out the plan to get at least 5 miles of walking in that day.
Personal Health Benefits of Walking
There have been definite health benefits resulting from my daily walking. These benefits include:
- Weight loss. My weight went down from 210+/- to 195 +/-. There is a simple equation in life that impacts virtually all of us. We gain or lose weight at the margin because of small differences in calories consumed and calories expended. For guys my size, walking five miles consumes between 500 and 600 calories (above baseline living). For a woman of 120 pounds, the burn rate is between 300 and 400 calories for five miles. There are about 3,500 calories in a pound of body fat. Burning about 100 calories per day more than one consumes would lead to the loss of a pound of weight in just over a month. It is small differences over time that lead to eventual good or great results. I weigh daily and record the results (thank you, Bluetooth!). If I’m up a pound, I’ll be focused on that darned equation that day.
- Better focus on diet. My walking has definitely helped me lose weight, but I have worked on the other side of the equation, as well. During the early part of the pandemic, I read about many people who were gaining weight. Early on, I instituted my “one plate per meal” rule and wrote about it on May 1, 2020. The simple decision to forego “seconds,” something I still do almost religiously, has helped my weight control as well. I made a corollary decision to limit my consumption of alcohol, which also helped.
- Better cholesterol numbers. I can never remember the numbers, but my cholesterol results have improved, both for the “good” cholesterol and for the “bad” cholesterol, and for the ratio of good to bad. All are well within the healthy range today.
- Improved blood pressure. My blood pressure has gone from not very good at all to pretty darned normal over the period of walking. I am aided there by a little pill I take each morning, but my doctor is pleased with the results. And I am, too!
- Better pickleball playing. Readers of this blog know I have a love affair with pickleball. I have more stamina now than at the beginning of my walking in spite of being almost three years older. And thanks to an additional focus on stretching, I’m more flexible now than at the beginning of my walking journey. Age-adjusted, I play reasonably well.
- Better balance and flexibility. Walking regularly builds strength in the legs, ankles and feet that are helpful in maintaining balance. I’ve started stretching regularly again and my flexibility is improving. Balance and flexibility are both helpful in avoiding or mitigating the effect of falls as we age.
- Better mental attitude. I’ve always had a pretty good mental attitude, but I have to say I’ve seen a nice improvement in my attitude towards every day. Feeling better than I have in a long time helps a great deal! Walking provides time to think and to pray. I often listen to my church’s Morning Prayer while walking. This definitely helps my attitude.
All in all, I am healthier, more fit, and have a better attitude towards life than before my walking journey began. It has been a worthwhile journey, indeed.
Where and When Do I Walk?
I walk most mornings before I go anywhere. My daily goal is to have at least two, and preferably, three miles recorded before I begin my normal day. If I get those two or three miles in early, the rest of the day is easier for sure. On days when I play pickleball, I get another two or three miles or more. And then, there are just the normal times we have opportunities to walk every day.
People often ask me where I walk. The answer is simple – anywhere I am. A few examples of the where’s of walking include:
- In my neighborhood, either in Memphis or in Florida.
- On the University of Memphis campus, which is nearby.
- On a treadmill if it is raining or the weather is too cold to walk outside comfortably.
- Around my office.
- In the exceptionally large lobby of my office building.
- From a long way from the doors of restaurants, big box stores, or anywhere I go. These extra steps add up and are easy to get.
- I’ve walked in malls in Memphis and in other cities where I have found myself near one.
- Around my office building.
- To nearby restaurants.
- Running in place. This is not my favorite, but a few times there has been little recourse but to run in place in a hotel room or wherever I happened to be.
- The five floors of my parking garage at home when it is pouring outside.
- On the beach near my Florida place.
- Around Sea Bird Island where my Florida place is.
All of us walk some during the day. I just try to be aware of opportunities to walk, whether at the office or parking far from the doors of stores, or anywhere else there is an opportunity to walk for a few hundred steps. When I wear my Fitbit Sense, which I do all the time, all of these steps are counted, even when playing pickleball. We can all work to find opportunities to walk every day.
As a brief aside, I have been wearing a Fitbit device or an Apple watch since about 2011. I favor the Fitbit devices because of their far longer battery life, but I know many people who monitor their steps with Apple products. My point is that if you will wear one of these devices, you can begin to monitor your walking. I have a friend who was regularly getting four to five thousand steps per day. With a bit of encouragement, he now gets seven or eight thousand steps per day. The difference is a result of paying attention to walking during every day. Aside over.
Another “trick” to get steps when it is otherwise difficult is to do what I call rapid heel raises. On airplanes, for example, when it is good to keep circulation going, I’ll stand in the aisle, hold the edge of the overhead with my right hand, and do my heel raises (push up so toes only are on the floor. If I do this rapidly, with my left hand hanging so my Fitbit will count, my heart rate rises to 110 to 120. I do this to a count of 500, which is the equivalent of about a quarter mile, and I get a few steps.
The point is, I walk wherever I am and no longer view the “where” of walking as an issue. It takes a bit of adjustment in thinking, but with regular walking, you will find that you can walk almost anywhere.
People often ask me how I am able to walk at least five miles every day. The answer is really simple. I have decided to do it and I organize my life so that it happens – every day (or virtually every day). When I wake up each morning, I am thinking about how I will get my steps/miles in that day. And then I do it.
My journey of 1,000 days of walking has been quite a journey. It began quietly on December 15, 2019. On February 2, 2020 I hit 50 consecutive days and reported the milestone on this blog.
Since then, I’ve written about my walking on a number of occasions. These walking posts, and their reposts on LinkedIn, have been some of my most-read posts. A number of people have told me that reading about my journey has encouraged them to begin walking journeys of their own.
I do not know what milestones lay ahead. All I know is that tomorrow, Friday, September 10, 2022, I will be going to the International Conference of the American Society of Appraisers in Tampa, Florida. And I will be thinking about what it will take to have one more five mile day.
Happy walking to all.