For a dedicated athlete, or even an active 20-something, taking a minimum of 10,000 steps a day for more than two and a half years might seem like a a walk in the park.
For someone like me, three decades older, with ancient injuries and a lot more wear and tear on the body, walking roughly seven to eight km a day seems more like a pipe dream.
For me, it looks like this: 1,000 days and 11.5 million steps, or about 11,500 steps a day on average. That’s a lot more than mission accomplished.
The experience is transformational, although many aches and pains, and some arthritis, are still there.
Walking doesn’t guarantee fine health in itself but it’s certainly a start. I’m about the size I was back in university. I’ve shed 20-plus pounds and dropped about three waist sizes.
But more importantly, I feel much better about myself.
The walking has helped me become more productive and I’ve met some great people along the way.
It started back in mid-2017 when I was feeling crummy, run down and out of shape. I decided to do something about it. I’ve always liked to walk, so that seemed – pardon the pun – a good first step.
Armed with my Fitbit, my trusty fitness tracker, I set out on a daily quest, which I detailed in a 2018 article.
At first it was a struggle. But over time, it became a little easier.
And I discovered that beyond improving my fitness, walking gave me time to think. It’s also a great time to practise my speeches and listen to podcasts.
Before I knew it, I started having regular walking meetings with friends and colleagues before stopping for the necessary caffeine boost.
To keep going, I put out to the world what I was doing. Some people were amazed that anything could get me out from behind the keyboard but most have been quite encouraging.
I’m often greeted with, “Hi Greg, how many steps have you done today?”
I still share my quest, even with people I don’t know – especially if they look at me funny as I’m parading up and down store aisles, around an airport, and even up and down the stairs at hospitals or office buildings.
I also discovered how many others wear watches that double as fitness trackers and count their steps.
Many days, the majority of my steps are taken around Southgate Centre mall in Edmonton. It’s not unusual to see others walking or groups of people doing tai chi before the stores open. (If you walk after the stores open, you end up using your credit card a little more often.)
Another benefit is meeting people who share amazing stories that show how determined and persistent they are. One senior walks with a walker every day – wearing a suit. Another needs to walk to keep his joints functioning after a workplace incident years ago. Another had a stroke and still walks the mall daily, with one arm in a sling and the other carrying a cane.
How can you not be inspired?
The barriers I needed to overcome seem insignificant compared to others I’ve met on my journey. Some days meeting the goal can still be tough. But I keep envisioning the prize: being happy and feeling good.
That means not giving up, whether it’s late at night or cold outside.
To help, I look to the wisdom of Dr. JoAnn Dahlkoetter, a marathon winner, speaker, Crestcom faculty member, author and leading sports psychologist. She coined the concept “Imagination is realization.”
Her basic idea is when you feel you just can’t make it, transport yourself to a time when you were successful and visualize what you did to achieve that success. This gives you the energy to persevere.
So when I falter or struggle to get to that 10,000 steps in a day, I think back to those few times I surpassed 22,000 steps in a day. At that point, 10,000 becomes a piece of cake.
As I close in to this seemingly unattainable milestone, I think about the late John Lennon’s song Watching the Wheels: “People say I’m crazy, doing what I’m doing.”
Whatever people think is fine with me. But I’m glad they notice.
This journey has helped me get fit, helped me focus and reminded me that I can accomplish great things if I put my mind to it.
And the new friends I’ve met along the way offer encouragement to each other, no matter what path they’re on.
So how long will I go?
The double hernia operation I’ve been awaiting since August may put an end to the streak. But I can always start a new streak after I recover.
Ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said, “A journey of 1,000 miles begins with one step.”
When will you take your first step toward a better life?
Troy Media columnist Greg Gazin, also known as the Gadget Guy and Gadget Greg, is a syndicated veteran tech columnist, communication, leadership and technology speaker, facilitator, blogger, podcaster and author. Reach him @gadgetgreg or at GadgetGuy.ca.