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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Making changes

Today is my birthday! In addition to celebrating my birthdays, I make what I call birthday evaluations. I  look back at the previous year or years, and find areas that I would like to see improvements in my life going forward. As aging does make itself most evident in our health, these changes are often about improving my health, so I can enjoy the rest of my time in this life. And there's one area that I began working on a few weeks ago.

I was cleaning out a drawer and found this, a pedometer. It's one of those cheap plastic ones that they hand out for free, at health insurance fairs put on by employers.

I vaguely recalled Dr. Oz saying something about how a person should put on about 10,000 steps per day, to lose weight. So, having been unable to lose more than 2 pounds since the first of the year, I was curious just how many steps I put on per day. Surely, being the active person that I am, I was way beyond that magic 10,000.

Oh, how very humbling. That first day, I put on about 2,000 steps. How could this be? Me, always busy, always doing. But I didn't find the pedometer until about 10 AM. Perhaps I had missed counting a lot of steps.

The next day, I put the pedometer on bright and early, anticipating that big number at the end of the day. Embarrassingly enough, my so-called active lifestyle only put about 3,500 steps onto the counter that day.

Day 3, try again. Today, surely I would see a lot of steps at the end of the day. This was the day of the week that I babysit 6 very active little boys for 3 hours. You would think all the chasing around would really boost that number. Not exactly. Better, but still just a little over 5000 steps. I am getting no where, in a hurry. It's no wonder I've only lost 2 pounds since January.

So, it became clear that if I wanted to put 10,000 steps on per day, I had to make changes. I began by challenging myself to increase the steps in 1,000 increments per day. Mid last week, I was up to 15,000 steps per day. This requires brisk walking for 1 hour straight at some point every day, plus maintaining a high level of activity. I can't do this every day. I would say I'm averaging 10,000 per day. I have some days where I'm just spending too many hours in the car, driving daughters around, or at my desk pushing papers around, to have time to do some serious walking. It's frustrating, because I can have very good intentions. But can't fulfill them due to schedule constraints.

Anyway, this is my big change for this coming year of my life. I hope to become a more active person and shake off some of this fatigue that I've had for the past several years.

I was curious (and you may be, too), just how many calories are burned in all these steps. (Certainly a great many, one would think!) 3,000 steps burns, on average, 100 measly calories. Oh rats! That 300 calorie slice of birthday cake will take 9,000 steps or 1 and 1/4 hours of walking, just to burn it off.

How about you? Do you ever make birthday evaluations of the past year with hopes for the improving your life for the next? Or are you the live each day as it comes sort of person? I happen to be an over-thinker, I over-think just about everything. I envy the person who can just take things as they come.

Happy birthday to me! And many more (just keep stepping, just keep stepping)!


  1. Wishing you a most wonderful birthday, and a very active year!

  2. dear lili,
    happy birthday to you!!!! I wish you a wonderful day and a very active year!
    love and bear hugs regina

    1. Regina,
      many thanks for the birthday wishes!

  3. Happy birthday to you Lili :) Hope you have a lovely day. You share a birthday with one of my very good friends.

    On another note, if your normal lifestyle is not getting anywhere near 10000 steps, I shudder to think how few steps I must be doing. I walk to uni (which takes all of five minutes), then sit at my desk all day, then walk home and sit around working on my blog and marking assignments. That must be why I haven't been able to lose much weight either!

    1. Hi Economies,
      You know, I also shared my birthday with my dad, and 2 very close girl friends growing up. Birthdays were always exciting times in my circle, as a kid.

      I have discovered with walking, that I have to make a concerted effort to get in all my steps. It just doesn't happen otherwise. But good that you are walking everyday to uni, even if it is just 5 minutes. I was in my best shape ever, the year I had a late morning class and all the good parking was gone, so I had to park at the university stadium, which was a good 8 minute brisk walk. And that little bit of extra walking helped me shape up enough that I wanted to go skiing several afternoons per week, which meant I got into even better shape. By the end of that quarter I was bounding up stairs in university buildings, instead of waiting for the elevator. It seemed that one little thing led to another.

  4. Happy Birthday! I think my steps per day are around the 500 mark these days, though when it gets warmer I'll probably walk to work.

    1. Hi Pamela,
      Thank you! That would be wonderful to walk to work -- free exercise (no gym fees) and save on gas, with the bonus of getting to be outside and enjoy fresh air!

  5. Happy Birthday!
    Funny, that 10,000 steps always seemed like it would be easy but I guess not. (I've never actually tried.) Add in other commitments & it's even more difficult. Great job!

    I don't do birthday evaluations but I have an ongoing commitment to my health, mostly with regard to food quality and exercise. I'm still working on my knee issue but just got back into Pilates, which I love! I'm hoping to be hiking & biking by this summer.

    1. Hi Sharon,
      Thank you for the birthday wishes! Yes, those pesky 10,000 steps. Even yesterday, after running around, and feeling like I was moving most of the day, I still had to walk for 20 minutes just before dinner, to get my steps in.

      You sound like you're a very active person to begin with. I used to be, once upon a time, then just fell out of it. But I am making a commitment to myself to get back to the things I once enjoyed. I'll need to get my bike overhauled for my "old lady" status (padded seat, upright handle bars). But this may just be the summer that I enjoy getting out more.

  6. Many happy returns Lili! Pedometers and an April birthday is another thing we share in common! My birthday's on Saturday. I own a couple of pedometers and have shared your astonishment at how difficult it is to rack up 10,000 steps without special effort. I love any chance for a focus on fresh starts and renewed energy into goals, birthdays included. Walking is one of my preferred forms of exercise, which definitely needs a bit of renewed focus come my birthday! Maybe I'll dig out my pedometer.

    1. Happy birthday, a few days early, Sarah! Any special plans for your celebration? I hope you have a fabulous day, whatever you do.

      You know what I've discovered about using this pedometer? Even if I don't get to 10,000 steps in a day, I find that just being aware that I have it on makes me more active, and I'm doing better in that area, than if I hadn't put it on for the day.

      Again, have a happy birthday!

  7. Do you hear me singing "happy birthday to you"? Hopefully you will have a wonderful day and your family will surprise you with their thoughtfulness. Or, if you're like me, you'll have to bake your own cake ...

    I, too, tend to overthink my life, but not on my birthday! That's a day for fun! ;) I have never tried a pedometer but I'm sure I don't rack up nearly enough steps in a day. I think it's great that you are trying to live a healthier lifestyle ... for me, baby steps have been best ... be realistic with your lifestyle changes, whatever they may be. Simplicity works. Overwhelming plans don't. And a 2 pound weight loss is a good thing! I know you probably were hoping to wear a skimpy bikini by now (ha!) but look at it this way--2 pounds down is better than 2 pounds up!

    1. Hi Kris,
      Thank you! I had a wonderful day. I did bake my own cake, but let my girls frost and decorate it. (Secretly, I wanted to bake the cake myself, as I was hungry for cake batter one day last week, so baked the cake, licked the bowl and froze the layers to wait for my birthday. There are some bonuses to baking your own cake!)

      You're right, a 2 pound loss is so much better than a gain. Midlife has caused me to gain a bit each year for several years now, so going down is definitely better than up. That skimpy bikini will just have to wait! LOL! I've become more of a one-piece girl in recent years. I think I got tired of having that moment when you're climbing out of a pool, and the weight of the water in the swimsuit caused the suit bottoms to go one way and the tops to go another.

      Good for you, that you you just spend your birthday having fun!

  8. Happy Birthday Lili!
    You've inspired me to dig out my pedometer and get walking.

    1. Thank you, frugal spinster!
      And it looks like we should have great walking weather all next week! I feel like I need to hurry to all my outdoor activities, as we were shut in for so many days with the cold and rain!

  9. Happy birthday! A pedometer is on my wishlist for the exact same reason. I am scared to see how few steps I take in a day.

    1. Hi Cheapchick!
      thank you!
      Check out garage sales and the packaged-up kiddie toy dept at your thrift shops for a pedometer. I see these cheap plastic ones in free bins at garage sales fairly often, and a few in the bags of toys at Value Village.
      It was very humbling to find out I take very few steps in an ordinary day, but also very enlightening, so in the end, a very good thing.

  10. Happy Birthday!

    I tend to avoid that sort of life analysis because for me it tends to lead to beating myself up, and depression, and just general bad stuff. I do much better trying to take things one day at a time.

    I share your consternation regarding exercise though. The past month has been tough on me since CatMan got injured (no long bike rides together) and my sick kitty's been needing so much attention. Plus - I fear I tend to turn to the all carb diet when I'm distressed, which doesn't help.

    Of course, the weather hasn't exactly been cooperating either. We got about a foot of snow yesterday and more on the way tonight. Oy! This too shall pass, this too shall pass... At least I got some exercise shoveling snow yesterday! :-)

    But walking is something I can do no matter the weather. I used to have a pedometer hanging around somewhere. Perhaps I'll try to find it and join you in the step counting endeavor. And I've GOTTA start eating my veggies again! That's the real biggie for me. Somehow, a big bowl of pasta just seems so much more soothing than steamed broccoli though. Sigh.

    1. Hi Cat,
      I think knowing yourself, whether introspection would be helpful or hurtful, is key to both happiness and productivity. For me, it keeps me moving forward. But for you, it could delay making any positive movements.

      Hopefully, circumstances will allow you to go on more long rides soon. But if not you are finding ways to get in more short rides these days, just with errands and such. And it all helps. If you think about it, exercise (meaning to move your body purely for the benefit of better health) is a recent invention. Activity used to just be part of life. If you needed to run an errand, it was on foot. So for you, going to the bank by bike was just a way to do things closer to the old-fashioned way. All good!

      Thanks for the birthday wishes!

  11. Happy Birthday, Lili!

    I have used a pedometer in the past and it was a good thing because I found myself taking the long way around things just to get my count up.

    Also, I like to consider myself a recovering overthinker. I used to be one of the best. I'm doing much better than I used to be about analyzing and worrying about things.

    1. Thank you, live and learn!

      I found the same thing! That just having the pedometer on makes me do things just a little bit differently.

      A recovering overthinker -- maybe there's hope for me yet! What I am trying harder at is not to worry as much, as worry is fruitless, especially in the middle of the night. Instead I just say a quick prayer and try to leave it alone (of course, I am one of those who will snatch my problem right back, only to worry, say another prayer and leave alone, then continue the cycle, but I am making progress).

  12. Lili!!
    Wishing you the happiest of days! Also, I wish you a year with the best of everything-health, happiness, love, dreams coming true, lots of laughter, joy with your family and a year of continued blogging!

    1. Thank you for the wonderful wishes, Jemma! I am making a great start on my new year filled with happiness and joy (and a dose of chocolate thrown in for good measure)! May all our lives be filled with such blessings!

  13. Happy Birthday, Lili. I hope you had a wonderful day. My birthday falls between Christmas and New Years which at that time everyone is talking about what resolutions they will be making for the New Year. I could blame my lack of reflection on my desire to avoid resolutions, but while I don't do too much reflection on my birthday I do take the time to be thankful for the long life I've had and somewhere down the line, usually spring time, I take a good hard look at where I am and where I want to be headed.

    1. Hi Lois,
      Thank you! I did have a wonderful day, and now on to a start of a wonderful new year.

      Yes, I would guess that you hear quite a lot about resolutions, right about your birthday. Most people think of thankfulness as something you do for someone else, but I see it as an incredible gift to myself. Thankfulness brings the important things in my life into focus, making the experience in this life richer.

  14. Hope you had a fun birthday! I got out my pedometer recently and was dismayed that a 40 minute brisk walk was only 3800 steps!

    1. Hi anexacting!
      Thank you, it was a wonderful day!

      I know, how very frustrating, to think you've walked all these steps, then to have the number be much lower than you'd expected. Make sure you've got it on at the right point on your hip/thigh, so that it registers every step. I even checked the calibration on mine, by walking about 20 steps and checking the counter. It was close enough, so I went with that spot.

      I still can't believe how hard it can be to get enough steps in for the day. That must mean that I spend a good amount of time not moving much.


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