n=1: The Self Experiment steps toward a goal
This month, n=1: The Self Experiment has pledged to take 10,000 steps a day — or embarrass herself trying. Read how she fared during the first week of her health journey.
I started this self-experiment on a Saturday, because I knew I’d have a bunch of errands to run on that day, and hey, there’s nothing wrong with stacking the deck a little. On Sunday, we had other family stuff to do so the 10,000 steps were pretty easy to clear out of the way on that day as well.
On Monday, Tropical Storm Flossie was due to hit and I was let out of work early. It was only drizzling that afternoon, so I took my girls on a walk; well, I walked, and they jumped in every puddle they found and poked at earthworms and random things they found. Walking with children is highly inefficient.
The tough part of this experiment, as always, was maintaining my goal during the work week. I found it is entirely possible (actually, probable) to spend almost the entire day seated. I used to wear a pedometer years ago, when I worked Downtown and caught the bus. I’d walk from home to the bus stop, from the bus stop to the office, from the office to lunch, and reverse, so it was easy to earn six thousand steps without too much effort. In addition, I’d take a 10-minute walk mid-morning, and again mid-afternoon, which added a couple thousand more steps. After work, I could get the rest of the steps just puttering around the house or going to the grocery store.
Now that I’m on the Kamehameha Schools campus, there are fewer walking opportunities. As you may know, the KS Kapalama campus is on a mountainside, so walking is not the most sensible form of transportation. I have to make a concerted effort to walk places, or else I have to walk around my neighborhood in the middle of the night after the kids fall asleep. Here are a few tricks I’ve found to add steps to my routine:
1. Be a little inefficient. If I have to wash my plate and cup upstairs, I will make two trips: one to take the plate, and one to take the cup. If I have to go to a meeting in the conference room, I take one trip to drop off my laptop, and one trip to take my water bottle and pen. Admittedly, this doesn’t add too many steps and makes me look very absent-minded.
2. Park further from the front door.
3. Take the stairs.
4. Take the long way around. To get to the conference room, I can go out of my office, turn left and walk two doors down, or I can go forward, make a left at the end of the hall and go around the looped hallway to approach the conference room from the other direction. Kind of like Ms. Pac Man, but it adds 100 steps.
5. Take a walk meeting. This only works if: the person you are meeting with agrees to walk with you; you don’t have to type anything or take notes of any kind; you don’t have to look up anything online; and you can walk slowly enough so as to not get sweaty and stinky (no one wants to spend their work day with someone who smells like they just finished PE class).
All in all, though, I feel all right. Even if I don’t accrue many steps during the day, it only takes about 1-1 ½ hours of walking straight (taking small- to medium-sized steps) to make 10,000 steps. If I have to walk at night, I listen to a podcast on my iDevice.
About the Self Experiment: In scientific research, n=1 refers to a trial where there is only one test subject. Across the world, many people have taken this idea and applied it to running behavioral experiments on themselves. You might also see it listed as self-tracking or self-quantification (http://quantifiedself.com). Whatever the name, it’s about tracking your behaviors over time and seeing what happens when you make changes.
Meredith Desha Enos, Being808’s n=1: The Self Experiment blogger, is a Honolulu-based writer, mother, wife, and putterer. She enjoys gardening, aquaponics, and being active with her family. Meredith works in online education at Kamehameha Schools, and is into new and great ideas and adventures. You probably know her from somewhere, or she’s friends with your cousin.