Since the end of January, despite working out 6 times a week and (I thought) eating healthfully, I have gained more than 5 lbs and have not been able to budge the scale. I’ve realized I need to retrain my thinking about food/exercise and make my lifestyle more active in order to see results. I’ve successfully lost weight in the past and have been trying to analyze the behaviors that allowed me to do so. The top conclusion I’ve reached regarding changes I can actively implement is that my lifestyle is too sedentary for my 45 minutes on the elliptical to make a dent. Spending all this time each week working in a cubicle does not promote activity so I’ve had to fight for it. I presented myself with a 60-day challenge. Before I give up and declare that “something is wrong with me” or ask the doctor for appetite suppressants, I want to make a long-term change in my lifestyle and see where I am. One of the components of my challenge is walking at least 10,000 steps per day. I used to wear a pedometer, almost obsessively, and at the time I was at my happiest weight (Today-15 lbs), I walked 10,000+ steps a day, averaging around 14,000 steps. We didn’t have a gym membership at the time, so I wasn’t doing a ton of exercise beyond walking or jogging, but it was enough to keep my weight in check. So far I can report 8 straight days of success!
Sun 4/11 – 19,000+
Sat 4/10 – 15,000
Fri 4/9 – 21,000
Th 4/8 – 15,000
W 4/7 – 10,000
T 4/6 – 10,000
M 4/5 – 15,000
S 4/4 – 10,000
So far today I am only at 1,500 so I need to pick up the pace if I am going to make it to day number 9. I’ve noticed a few things: I’m retraining my brain to think about trying to be active as much as possible, instead of thinking that once I’ve “worked out”, I am done, and can sit on my butt for the rest of the day. Additionally, my brain doesn’t view walking as “exercise”, so I don’t feel I need to fuel up nor do I deserve a (food) reward for the walk. I’ve been fitting in walks during lunch and after work as well as continuing my normal running/strength training/cross training and since my goal is to take as many steps as possible instead of accomplish a certain number of minutes of exercise or burn a certain number of calories, I am taking longer walks when I have time instead of feeling like I am “done” at the 30 minute mark. I count all walks at a pace of 3.5 mph or 4.0 mph and above as “exercise” in my tracker and found out that last week, I logged 9 hours of exercise – nearly double my normal average of 5 hours. Despite the increased time spent on physical fitness, it felt like less of a chore.
No hard and fast results yet, but for the first time in WEEKS the scale was down a pound this morning. Guess I better keep walkin’!
This seems to be working for me mostly because of the psychological aspects involved – I don’t view walking as working out and so I avoid the mind games that going to the gym causes. There is so much conflicting research in this area that I won’t even get into the topic of whether or not the lower-intensity cardio is helpful to my weight loss efforts or not – but it’s possible. Also, my broad goal (be more active, walk more) inspires me to do more – to go above and beyond – than my normal goals of “45 minutes elliptical” or “3 mile run” that are considered accomplished at a very finite point. I’m also “resting” less, because— you guessed it, walking isn’t something I need a rest *from*! There are days of more intense exercise, and active days that are less intense, but I don’t need a day off to recuperate from… walking.
So what are you waiting for? Get up, move around! It can’t hurt!