How Do You Get Your Fitbit Steps?

“How do you get so many fitbit steps?”

It’s a question I get almost every week from fellow fitbit users. I’m not going to lie — it’s work getting 20,000 steps (9 miles) almost every day, but there are few simple things you can do to help yourself succeed.

First — Set a goal. Make it realistic for you — it took me almost a year to work up to 20,000 steps a day. At first I could only do several thousand. My first month walking 10,000 steps a day was a very challenging goal for me. I increased my daily steps at a reasonable pace each week to prevent injury. It isn’t a race, it’s a journey! Make sure to enjoy it! An increase of 10% a week should let your body adjust and gain strength at a reasonable rate.

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This picture is for an 18,750 step day. I have several that I use depending on my goal for the day

Second — Make a plan. I like to have a chart on my fridge that tracks my steps by the hour. That way I can stay on track. If it gets to the end of the day and I have too far to go, I will just give up. My goal right now is to walk roughly 15 minutes every hour. That translates into 1,500 steps per hour give or take.

I love crossing off each hour as I progress — it’s motivating as well as rewarding, so I use a plastic sleeve and dry erase markers so that I can reuse the chart. As you plan your day, it’s important to know if you will have large chunks of down time and try to get ahead of those if possible. For example, if I know I’m going to be sitting in a chair teaching piano for three hours in a row, I’ll try to finish those steps before I even begin teaching. That way I don’t have to catch up at the end of the day.

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Third — Find a place. You may laugh, but most of my miles are logged around my kitchen/living room area. I have a circle that I walk. My family call it ‘The Path’ and everyone knows to stay out of The Path or you get in serious trouble. You can see that we move the furniture around so that nothing impedes my progress around the path. We move it back when company comes, but by now most of our friends know exactly why it’s out of the way and I walk the path while we talk too.fitbit steps

I have a treadmill and I use it sometimes, I just find walking in the kitchen easier to keep my life moving forward while I get my steps in — I can wash some dishes, do a few laps, get a drink for the kids, make a quick snack, get a few more laps, you get the idea.

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Fourth — Find Entertainment. Sometimes I use my ipad to read, watch tv or catch up on social media.

I like to play a game that my family and I made up called ‘Odds’. You walk The Path as quickly as you can. When the oven on the clock has an odd number at the end, you have to run up the stairs to the second floor as fast as you can. This keeps my heart rate up and the kids love to try to beat me. I’m also meeting my flights of stairs goal for the day too!

Talking on the phone is a great way to get your steps in for the day. Most of my family live far away, so I spend many hours on the phone with them. The treadmill is just too noisy to use on the phone, so I walk The Path.

I like to make all those pesky customer service phone calls while walking The Path too — it’s multi-tasking at it’s best! I get all the billing questions cleared up and get my fitbit steps in at the same time! Last August I refinanced our house while walking the path. The conversations took several hours. During one phone call, the representative asked if my washer was on the fritz. I laughed and told him I was walking back and forth from carpet to tile flooring and that it was my squeaky shoes he could hear. :)

Fifth — Take Breaks. This sounds a little counter-intuitive, but without breaks, I just couldn’t walk 20,000 steps, or roughly 9 miles a day without causing injury. I have plantar fascia and tarsal tunnel. This causes great pain if I don’t elevate my feet periodically. No problem, I keep a blue cup with cold water on the counter at all times and I rest once in a while for at least 10 minutes and drink my water at the same time. Elevating my legs helps the fluid drain from my feet and lets my body relax so that I can go walk again. I always try to accomplish my ‘sit down’ tasks during that time, so that when I’m ready to walk again I don’t feel like I have something looming over my head.

Sixth — Recognize Achievement. At the end of every day, when you sync your fitbit, enjoy the moment. Watch those little smiley faces and celebrate your “Hooray!” I can’t lie, I often make my family come and shout with the green smileys when I have a really good day. It makes me feel good, and they see that I have reached my goals. It’s a great endorphin rush and helps me to be motivated to get my fitbit steps in the next morning when I wake up.

Hopefully these ideas will help you as you try to work on your daily fitbit step goals — I’d love to hear any other suggestions you may have too!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you make a purchase through these links.

Healing sunshine

Bring a friend

It’s been a rough February. Between all of the the snow and family illness, I’ve about had it. The snow is piled up everywhere and its been icy, bitter and blah.

But today the sun was shining and it was a balmy 48 degrees outside. I took the opportunity to walk this afternoon with a friend near our town beach. You can see the sand is completely covered with snow.

It was still beautiful, even with the snow.

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We took a washed out selfie that makes me laugh every time I see it — the sun was so bright we couldn’t keep our eyes open.

We talked and walked and I realized just how much I needed to spend some time out of doors in the sun. It rejuvenates the soul and heals the heart. I love the feeling that you get when the warmth hits your face and helps take away some of the sadness and illnesses that winter brings.

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I’ve always heard that sunshine is healing and felt that way myself, but I started doing some research to see if there is anything to it. The National Institutes of Health has an interesting article using scientific research to point out that sunshine has potential to help:

  • Vitamin D absorption
  • Reduce cancer
  • Reduce metabolic syndromes such as diabetes
  • Reduce cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure
  • You get a better night’s sleep

Not to mention, it’s much easier to reach your fitness goals when you spend some time walking with a friend enjoying the beautiful day. The time passes so quickly! We walked for almost an hour and it felt like nothing. Thanks to the sun, I’ve been able to get 25,000 steps in today — almost 11 miles. That’s about 5,000 steps over my goal for the day. Yehaw!

Finding a Family Compromise

20140219-093705.jpgI had great plans for today, but the day ended up being a family compromise situation.

I was a little sore from my big walking day yesterday, but I wanted to get my 20,000 steps and clean my kitchen cupboards.

Well, I was railroaded by a child’s illness yet again. It’s been a very rough two weeks for my little boy! I spent all day making sure my son was ok. After spending the day at the doctors office, we have proven that he is indeed going to be fine and life has moved on.

I was able to get in about 16,000 steps by walking all evening. It is always going to be a struggle balancing all of the things in life. Some days you just have to figure out how to compromise your own goals with the needs of your family. Today was one of those days. I got in my 16,000 steps which gave me a calorie burn of about 2,900. I try to have a calorie deficit of at least 1,200 calories. So I ate around 1,400 calories to make sure I was going to meet my daily goal.

My compromise was to eat less today, thus making my day balance out overall. It was not a great day for muscle strength increase, but I also didn’t let it go to waste.

I loved my boy and took care of myself at the same time.

Celebrating My Fitbit Anniversary

Today is my one year anniversary owning a fitbit. If I had known how fitbit would change my life, I would have never hesitated to purchase one. Because I’m such a cheapskate, it took me almost a year of looking, lusting and reviewing accelerometers before I settled on the Fitbit One and shelled out the $100. That was one year ago today.

In those 365 days, I have accomplished the following:

  • Lost 40 pounds
  • Walked 5,225,027 steps
  • Climbed 5,461 floors
  • Travelled 2282.83 miles
  • Removed my risk of fatty liver disease
  • Decreased my risk of diabetes type 2
  • Lowered my cholesterol to safe levels

Most importantly I have changed the way I live my life every single day. When I wake up in the morning, I now have a fitness goal. I know how far to push myself and I know that my body is stronger and healthier every time I work at improving my daily step count.

In 2012, I was walking about 3,000 steps a day because of a foot injury. The injury turned into a lazy way of living. Fitbit turned that around. With a way to measure my daily effort, it is easy to judge if I am putting in my full effort every day to be healthy and strong.

When I first purchased fitbit, I was walking about 3,000 steps a day. Over the last year I have increased that to roughly 17,000 to 20,000 steps a day.

In honor of my former 3,000 a day step habit, I thought today I would set a goal to walk 30,000 steps — a ten-fold increase of my daily effort last year. I made sure to get in about 7,000 steps first thing in the morning so that I was off to a good start. My kids knew that I was working hard for this goal and really let me devote time to walking today. I tried to walk about 15 minutes every hour to keep a steady pace so that I wouldn’t tax my feet too much.

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At around 6:00 PM, I was at 26,000 steps and my feet started to get tired and achy. I took a picture to motivate me not to give up — I was not letting go when I was so close to the 30,000 mark. Walking my path around the living room and kitchen, I chatted with my family, read a book and tried to keep pushing on for the last forty minutes of walking.

Then a funny thing happened without even noticing — I was at 31,000 steps. I had passed my goal! I was so excited! I did a dance of joy and made everyone in the family cheer for me. My husband was composing an important email, and he likes to read his drafts out loud while I walk for me to help edit as necessary. So, he kept talking and I kept walking. And walking. And walking. There was no way on earth I was going to go to bed tonight without hitting the 35,000 step mark since I had already made it to 31,000.

At 35,000 I would get a badge. I wanted that badge. It’s just a dumb little image on your dashboard, but I really wanted to wake up tomorrow and see it there!

Here is my dashboard at 10:00 tonight — please note the 35,000 step badge. It’s mine — I earned it!

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I am so proud of myself it’s ridiculous. In one year of working, pushing and forcing myself to move beyond my boundaries, today I achieved more than I ever have in the past. I really put the effort into achieving this goal.

In the long run, I know that today is not going to make the difference between being healthy or unhealthy. But I do know that my work day after day to increase my step count and get strong enough so that I can push for things like a 35,000 step day are going to make the difference. This is just one day in the last 365 that I continued to improve.

Man, I love seeing all my goals turn green on the Fitbit  dashboard. That means I did it! I met my goal!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you make a purchase through these links.

Shoveling snow is a great winter workout!

Last week we had two snow storms right in a row. After shoveling my driveway in the first storm, I noticed that I was sore as if from a good workout.

When the next snow storm came, I was curious to see how heavy the snow was, so I had my daughter bring the scale outside and see how much a shovel full of snow would weigh.

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This is a reasonable, non-packed shovel. It wasn’t staged in any way. We just took one quick pass at the snow until the shovel was full and then weighed it — 24 pounds! The snow that day was about five inches deep — an average snow storm for us.

I was shocked! No wonder I feel sore after shoveling! Since that day I have now come to the conclusion that shoveling is a great winter workout, even if it is a little hard to plan into your schedule.

My driveway is roughly sixty feet long. If you figure that it takes four shovel fulls to clear a foot all the way across the driveway, it takes me roughly 240 shovel fulls of snow to clear my driveway.

It takes me about 60-90 minutes if I’m working on it by myself or about 45 minutes if my husband and I work as a team. After looking on calorie-burn charts, that’s about 300-500 calories per storm. Not bad for a little cardio and strength training regimen.

We have been getting roughly two storms per week for that last little while — that makes for two opportunities to get in my newly found winter workout each week.
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When I shovel, I try to use as many muscles as possible to make it a full body workout (and protect my back). So, I shovel, then do a squat and lift to pick it up, then I squeeze my abs and do a bicep curl to throw it to the side. This helps to use as many major muscle groups as I can figure out — making it a full body workout. That makes for roughly 240 squats and 240 bicep curls.

In addition to just moving the snow out of the way, as winter progresses, the snow on the sides of the driveway gets higher. The snow now has to be lifted up and over the piles to get it out of the way. Today we had to lift it about two to three feet. It definitely adds to the upper body workout!

So, next time you’re feeling frustrated that you have to get out and shovel, just think of it as a muscle building endeavor. Maybe it will help to motivate you out the door. Maybe.

P.S. — Thanks everyone for all your positive encouragement — I’m feeling better today, at least better enough to shovel snow :)

Rest is Recovery

In thinking about my goals for the day, I only have one: to get better.

I finally had a good night of sleep, but I am still sick. I tried walking this morning and I got in about 5,000 steps. However, when I finished I just stood in my front room and tried to listen to my body. If I heard it right it said, “You are a fool. Eat good food and rest. Stop walking.”

That’s what I’m going to work on today — resting. It is so hard for me to consider rest as important as work, especially when I’m sick. In my mind I so often equate rest with weakness. It’s something I’m trying to figure out and conquer. Intellectually I understand that rest is recovery, it’s just hard to put into practice when I’m usually motivating myself to move in order to get healthier. I worry that resting too much is what made me out of shape in the first place.

Rest. Recover. Rest. Recover. I’m going to keep telling myself that all day.

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I’m going to drink lots of orange juice, smoothies and eat as many vegetables as I have in the house to try to help my body recover. I can’t lie — chocolate and ice cream might be a part of my recovery as well. Once I’m recovered, then I can conquer the fitness goals I outlined a couple of days ago.

Until then, I just need to get better. Here is how you will find me today — sitting in the rocking chair with the heating pad on my head to drain my sinuses and snuggled up in the crazy Cambodian blanket to keep me warm and sleepy. I look a little goofy, but I’m nice and toasty warm.
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What do you eat when you’re sick?

photo (2)I have a wicked head cold. I thought it would go away after a day or so, but I’m really fighting it. It’s taking all my energy and strength. Most of all it’s taking my will-power. I just don’t have the strength to eat well when I don’t feel good.

I think it’s because I’m seeking any kind of comfort and my easiest comfort is food. So, I turn to my comfort foods. I’m trying hard to make my old favorites as healthy as I can, but it’s not easy. The last few days, all I want to eat is cheese and pepperoni. To at least take care of some of the fat, I put the pepperoni on a paper towel and microwave them for a minute. Then I put another paper towel on top and try to get as much fat off as possible. It isn’t going to turn it into a vegetable, but it does at least get rid of some of the fat.

I’ve added olives to at least fight a little of the cholesterol collecting in my arteries.photo (1)

I want pepperoni and cheese for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It may be in part because I can actually smell and taste both of them. A salad doesn’t have enough flavor to combat my stuffy nose.

In between meals I have been snacking on these golden tomatoes. I figure they have vitamins and my body needs the nourishment.

I’m trying to keep up my walking, but even that is a struggle. Over the weekend I got about 5,000 steps a day compared to my normal 20,000. It’s just not enough to make up for the calories I’ve been eating. Monday I got in 16,000 steps. I’m walking so much slower due to the exhaustion so it’s taking longer.

This presents a second dilemma — do you rest or fight through the illness. I waffle. If I have any energy I think I should get up and walk. When I get exhausted, I rest. I have no idea how long I’m going to be sick and I don’t want to loose muscle strength while I’m down. I don’t have enough to do any weight lifting or Jillian DVDs. My rule for those is that I have to be able to sleep through the night before I take on a serious exercise plan. It triggers asthma attacks and I’m just asking for a bigger setback in the end.

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Today I was able to drink a smoothie for breakfast. It’s packed with nutrients to help me get better — yogurt, spinach, orange juice, berries and cinnamon. All the ice makes me cold, but I figure it’s worth it to get in the things I need. Especially the spinach — you know its a super food after all :)

What do you hunger for and how do you deal with being sick? Do you still exercise?

Three-Step Exercise Plan

When I’m sick I sit and think too much and this head cold today is giving me lots of time to think. But thinking can be helpful in outlining my goals and I need a more concrete plan for my strength training in the next two weeks.

I’ve been working on getting stronger. I can see muscles on my arms and shoulders that have not been there before. It makes me so happy! I can’t believe it! I finally have deltoids! I can do push-ups! Every one of those sentences deserves exclamation points because this new for me. Even when I was in high school and weighed in at 135 pounds I couldn’t do push-ups. I’m lifting a lot more off the ground now and I can do over 30 push-ups in one minute. That’s a big deal!

I’ve also been working on sit-ups and can now do over 20 in one minute. For a lady with two serious C-sections, that’s a very big deal!

Where do I go from here though? I have hit a weight loss plateau that I just can’t push through. I’ve been stuck for 6 months. I’ve been loosing inches, but I want pounds to disappear as well.

I know that Jillian Michaels can push me to exercise harder than anyone else. Also, the past few weeks I’ve been getting about 20,000 steps in six days a week.

With all of these thoughts swarming in my head in a disorganized fashion, I’m ready to put goals down on paper:

  1. Do Jillian Michaels Body Revolution level one four times this week. That means I’ll do the two strength training DVDs twice before the end of the week. I’m planning on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday for these workouts.
  2. Walk 20,000 steps each day. This will be a bit of a challenge because the strength training is tough. I’ll have to budget in a little more exercise time each day to fit both into my schedule.
  3. Do one minute of sit-ups, push-ups, burpees and plank each day. I can work these in while walking, when I have a spare moment or first thing in the morning. It won’t matter as long as I get them done. This will supplement my overall training from Jillian and focus on these four strength areas where I am most weak.

If I follow this plan while keeping my calories down to 1700, I should be building muscle and working towards conquering my weight plateau.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you make a purchase through these links.

My New Website!

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Come join me for each step on my journey to good health!

That’s my tagline on this newly created website! Holy cow! Am I in over my head? I’m not sure. But, as always, I’m willing to try something new and see how it goes. Life has never failed me before when I’ve been willing to try. So here it goes! I’m all set to learn!

As for my actual health journey today, um, that’s feeling like a failure.

I have a head cold, and I just don’t feel like doing anything. That’s why I’m working on the website. I can sit in a chair and feel like I’m trying to move my life forward.

When I have a head cold, I don’t feel like eating anything good for me. All I want is the comfort foods from my former lifestyle. So, for breakfast/lunch I had pepperoni and Jarlsberg cheese with orange juice. I followed that up with a little of my gelato addiction. It’s not the nutrition I probably need, but I’m not really feeling like eating anything else right now. Maybe I’ll try for a nutrient packed smoothie later in the day. Right now I’ve got to figure out how to conquer WordPress.

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A Little Sad

I just found out that I wasn’t selected to speak at the blogging conference. I’m sad. But, I’m not that shocked. I obviously have just started blogging, have no idea what I’m doing and need a little experience. The conference is made up of people who know what they are doing and have thousands of readers. I would have liked to go though. Now I just don’t think I can make it happen.

Here’s hoping that something else so big, so important and much better is heading my way! Maybe it’s a sign that I shouldn’t go to the conference because I have something else I need to be doing. Yep. I’m going to go with that for my answer, at least for now.

I will say that one really good thing came from applying to FitBloggin — I started my blog. It’s been something I’ve wanted to work on for ages, but didn’t have a specific reason to get started. Now I do, and I’ll keep learning and working on the blog as well as my health and fitness goals.

In the end, what really matters to me is that I’m healthy and happy. Everything else is fluff along the way.