n=1: The Self-Experiment takes lots of small steps for health

StepsIn August, n=1: The Self Experiment pledged to take 10,000 steps a day. Read about what it took for her to stick to her goal — and what she’s learned 300,000 steps later.

Well, I made it to the end of another self experiment. To all the people who tried this one, good work! Except for the night I slept over in Makaha and it was too dark to go walking, I successfully completed the entire experiment. That’s 300,000 steps!

Here are my reflections:

1. I lost a total of four pounds. “They” say the key to sustained weight loss is to lose the weight slowly and steadily, at a rate of one to two pounds a week. I’m not trying to lose weight (at least, not in any kind of focused way), so this was a nice side effect of walking. I had read that there are about 50,000 steps in a pound. You’d think that means five days of walking is one pound. However, if you’re already maintaining a steady weight with the amount of walking you do, that’s 7,200 additional steps a day to lose a pound a week. So, although I think walking is a good way to maintain your weight or get you to input/output equality, I think it would be a frustratingly slow way to lose additional weight.

2. It was easy to walk the first 5,000 steps during the work day, without changing my routine too much. It was pretty easy to get to 7,500 steps running errands and what have you after work. What was difficult is the final 2,500 steps when it’s the end of the day and what I’d really like to do is watch X-Files (again) on Netflix. It’s at that time when I’d have that internal struggle, where one part of me wants to finish the 10,000 steps, and the other part of me doesn’t want to change out of my boroboro clothes (more on this in a second) and put on shoes. To get motivated, I’d listen to podcasts, and I realized that since I’m not walking very quickly or very far, I could wear slippers. Not needing any special gear is a big plus for walking.

3. On wardrobe: Because the goal is to just take 10,000 steps and not go very quickly or very far, you can take small steps and go slowly, which is a bonus if you’re wearing heels and/or work clothes. You don’t have worry about everything getting all sweaty. On the other hand, because you’re moving so slowly, you have to wear something a bit more presentable and even conservative when walking — because people have more time to look at you when you’re strolling by, and they can see if you’ve spilled Zippy’s chili down the front of your shirt. Also, if you’re running and you’re just wearing shorts (for men) or shorts and a sports bra (for women), you look sporty and appropriate; if you’re walking in that attire, you look either lazy, or that you did an activity earlier but now can’t find your car.

4. Sometimes it takes a long time to walk 10,000 steps. In the picture, you will notice that, not only did I not yet reach 10,000 steps, but also I had been wearing the pedometer for 13 hours. My takeaway from this point is that activity isn’t something that needs to happen for just one designated hour—it can happen all day, as long as you’re awake.

5. Finally, in this self-experiment I found that not only did I become accustomed to walking, the baby also became accustomed to me walking him to sleep. On nights that I had completed the 10,000 steps before the evening, or if because of rain I couldn’t go walking, he had a hard time falling asleep. This was a nice reminder that our habits affect not only our lives, but also our loved ones.

Now that I know approximately how far the things in my life are, I am no longer using the pedometer and just trying to keep track in my head.

MeredithEnosMeredith 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.

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