What I learned from the journey of over 12 million steps

For a dedicated athlete or an active twenty something fit individual, walking a minimum of 10,000 steps a day, for almost three years might seem like a daily workout or a walk in the park. 

For someone like me, three decades older with ancient injuries and lot more wear and tear on the body walking roughly seven to eight kilometres a day that seems more like a pipe dream. 

But stranger things have happened. For me, On March 3, 2020, it looked like this: 1000 days and 11.5 million steps later or about 11,500 steps a day on average, it was a lot more than mission accomplished. In fact as I write this article, 70 days later over two months after may step count sits just past 12.3 million.

Although main aches and pains and the bit of arthritis is still there, the experience is and continues to be transformational.

Walking doesn’t guarantee fine health in itself I’m constantly being told but it’s certainly a start. I’m about the same size I was back in my University days – only older. I’ve shed 20+ pounds, dropped about three waist sizes but more importantly, I feel much better; better about myself. 

Benefits Beyond Fitness

Beyond fitness, the walking has helped me become more productive and have met some great people along the way.

It started back in mid 2017 when I was feeling crummy and somewhat run down and out of shape and I thought I would do something about it.  I’ve always liked to walk, so that seemed – pardon the pun, a good first step.

My FitBit Charge 3

At the time I had obtained a fitness tracker and set out on a daily quest. As an aside, I have since rewarded myself with first a FitBit Charge 2 HR and now my trusty FitBit Charge 3 – which I reviewed back in late 2018. 

I shared my journey’s humble beginnings in a 2018 Troy Media article and podcast, “One step at a time: a simple solution to a better life,”  and ToastCaster Podcast Episode 90 –  Leadership: Create visions not resolutions.

The Journey

At first the continuous walking was physically a struggle but over time, it became a little easier. I then quickly discovered that beyond upping my fitness game, walking gave me other things – like time to think. It’s also a great opportunity to practice my speeches and listen to podcasts – it also helps pass the time.  Before I knew it I started having regular walking meetings with friends and colleagues before stopping for the necessary caffeine boost.

To keep me going I found it necessary to put out to the world what I was doing. Some were amazed that anything could get me out from behind the keyboard but most have been actually quite encouraging.  

Funny thing when you put it out there.  Up until about mid-march, when the Covid-19 pretty much shut things down. I’d often get greeted with, “Hi Greg, how many steps have you done today or have you done your 10,000 (steps) yet?” 

I continued to share my quest even with people I didn’t even know – especially if they looked at me funny, seeing me parading up and down the aisles at Safeway or Hudson’s Bay, around an Airport, and even up and down the stairs at hospitals or office buildings. 

For the longest time, I also discovered how many others wear a FitBit and count their steps. I even notice when people on TV wear them – I guess that’s the geek in me.

Again, with the world-changing pandemic, I do most of my walking in and around my neighborhood – of course adhering to social distancing guideline – and then some.

The Mall

But admittedly, most days – and I miss those days, the majority of steps were taken around a great nearby mall – Southgate Centre in Edmonton. It wasn’t unusual to see others walking or groups of people doing Tai Chi before the stores open.  

Walking the mall each day, you also get to know every nook and cranny of the building and also end up using the credit card a little more. I’ve even connected with the good folks at Southgate, who were happy to hear about my quest. In fact they’ve always been quick to respond and like and share, especially when I tag them on my posts on Social Media. 

Another benefit, and again one I truly miss right now is meeting some interesting people. 

While a few would rather smile and move on, other are a little more open to share their amazing stories  – showing how determined and persistent they are in overcoming their adversity. 

One senior walks with a walker every day. He takes pride in his presence wearing a suit even for a walk. Another shared with me how he had a workplace incident years ago and even with great difficulty needed to walk to keep his joints from stiffening up; another, obviously had suffered a stroke yet slowly but surely still walked the mall daily with one arm in a sling and the other dragging a cane. 

How can you not be inspired?

Tough Road

The barriers I needed to overcome seemed almost insignificant compared to others I’ve met on my journey. Admittedly, some days meeting the goal can still be tough. 

But I just keep envisioning the prize – smiling, being happy and feeling good.  

That means not giving up, whether it’s late at night or venturing out in sub-zero weather to reach the goal.  

To help me along I continue to incorporate the wisdom of Dr. JoAnn Dahlkoetter, a marathon winner, speaker, Crestcom Faculty Member, author and leading sports psychologist who coined the concept; “Imagination is realization.”

Her basic idea is when you feel you just can’t make it, transport yourself back to a time when you were successful, visualize what happened, what you did to achieve your success or overcome that obstacle. This will give you the energy to persevere.

So now when I falter or struggle to get to that 10K steps in a day, I follow Dahlkoetter’s advice. I think back to those few times I surpassed 22,000 steps in a day. At that point, 10K steps, becomes a piece of cake.

My Best Week

As I closed in to this seemingly unattainable milestone, some folks continue to find my quest inspiring, the persistence amazing while others unknowingly quoted former Beatle, the late John Lennon, “People think I’m crazy, doing what I’m doing,” from his song: Watching the Wheels.

Whatever people think is fine with me. Either way, I’m glad they take the time to notice. 

Lessons Learned

This journey has not only helped me get fit, it’s helped me focus more, as well as encourages me to remember that I can accomplish great things if I put my mind to it.

And finally, the new friends we meet along the way is a great way to help us encourage each other no matter what path we’re on.

So how long will I go?  At first, it was as long as I can. But sadly, “All good things must come to an end.” That’s of course a quote by Chaucer, or in more recent times, Q as he spoke to Picard in an episode of Star Trek – The Next Generation. The double hernia operation I’ve had been waiting since August has now put an end to the streak.

But it’s all-good, and once healed, I will start again.

Ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu once said, “A journey of 1000 miles begins with one step.”  And how oh so true that is.

As we find ourselves in unprecedented times, when will you take your first step toward a better life?

Listen to the Podcast version: ToastCaster Podcast #134.

A syndicated version of the article also appears at Troy Media and affiliated syndicated sites.

Greg Gazin, also known as the Gadget Guy and Gadget Greg, is a syndicated veteran tech columnist, communication, leadership and technology speaker, facilitator at Crestcom International, blogger, podcaster and author. Reach him @gadgetgreg or at GadgetGuy.ca.

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