100 days of stepping out

Right now I am a-roaming (again)
Image by dhammza / off via Flickr

I’ve been focused on walking my 10,000 steps per day for several months now, so I thought I would provide a quick update on my progress here. I first mentioned my “new walking habit” in this blog post…  What does this have to do with business engineering, you might ask? Truthfully I really don’t know, however reading this you may well get a better perspective on how I think about things. So off we go —

First off, I love measuring things and having quantifiable targets to aim for. I guess I could have just told myself — “I need to walk more; I should go for a nice long walk every evening…”, but for some reason (to do with my internal wiring, I imagine), I don’t believe that approach would have worked for me. But by getting a pedometer and setting a tangible goal — 10,000 steps per day, rain or shine — I have somehow managed to challenge my internal wiring to rise to the challenge.

And here I am now, more than 100 days into this new habit (actually, probably more like 128 days and counting) and I’ve only missed 1 day of getting outside for a walk, and I’ve averaged 98.3% of my daily target over those past 100 days. Those aren’t just guesstimates — because of my somewhat “anal retentive” desire to measure things, those are actual results, recorded day by day, and summarized weekly. More insight into how my mind works, I guess.

So lets look at the overall results of this new, improved habit of mine. Here is some baseline data to consider:

  • 10,000 steps (for me, anyway) is 8.2 kilometres (5.1 miles for my imperial friends of out there in blog-land);
  • my estimate of my daily steps prior to holding myself accountable to walking more was 2,800 steps;
  • the daily delta between my 98% of target and 28% previous level is 7,000 steps, or 5.75 km/day;
  • over the 100 day period, I have walked 575 km more than I otherwise would have;
  • using a calorie/distance calculator found here (hope this is more-or-less accurate — ain’t the internet & Google great!), I’ve calculated that my “daily delta” of more-or-less 3.5 miles burns off an extra 358 calories per day;
  • 1 pound of fat = 3,500 calories, so at 358 calories/day, I’ve potentially burned off 35,800 extra calories over 100 days, or 10.2 pounds.

As interesting as these calculations are (you may have a different word to describe this analytical diatribe…), I have not been counting calories on the intake side so I can’t really write meaningfully about overall calorie (and hence weight) reduction. I certainly can’t accept that I have lost 10 pounds over the 100 days because (a) I know I have been eating more food as I have needed more energy, and (b) even though I don’t actively weigh myself on a regular basis I haven’t lost anything close to 10 pounds! In fact, I don’t think I have lost any significant weight however I am confident that I have probably turned some fat into muscle as I generally feel a lot tighter in the core…

So, other than the analytical number crunching, what is the upshot of my experiences of walking every day? Well, here are some interesting qualitative findings:

  • When I get an early morning walk in of 30 to 60 minutes, my productivity for the day is much higher. If I don’t walk in the morning I find myself getting a bit irritable and wanting desperately to get outside and go for a walk;
  • My walks have become a wonderful reflective period of my days. I’ve stopped listening to music or navigating my smart phone while I walk and instead observe more of the world around me and reflect on things. My morning walks give me an opportunity to ponder the day ahead of me and plan out my major work activities; my evening walks let me consider the day just spent and think about what I’ve accomplished and what else I need to do next;
  • Overall, my work productivity is much higher. I spend less time in front of my computer and at my desk overall, but the time I spend I am focused on higher value activities and I seem to get into them and through them more quickly, with very satisfying outcomes;
  • I’m eating better, and craving more natural foods like fruits and vegetables over the highly processed “comfort foods” in our general diet these days. My eating habits still aren’t as good as they perhaps need to be, but they are certainly better than they were;
  • I’m more liable to get bored when watching TV and push myself out of my chair and go for a walk. That is a good thing!!

Now that I find myself walking probably about 90 to 120 minutes a day, one has to ask: where does all this time come from? As it turns out for me at least, it seems to come from two places — first is a compression of work hours (time at my office desk), and the other is less time watching mindless TV. On the work front, since I’m much more focused and much more productive when working I now allow myself to leave the desk when I’ve done what I set out to do — more separation of work and personal space/life seems to be good for me.

And it terms of TV, the TV and movies I do watch now I enjoy more because instead of feeling guilty about wasting my time in front of the boob-tube, I now treat my TV time as a reward for getting out and about and hitting the sidewalk.

Anybody up for a walk?

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