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Counting My Steps

Throughout my life, I’ve ran, skied, walked, and cycled. In short, I love to exercise. Yet, there have been a few times in my life when I didn’t exercise regularly because of work related stress and time constraints. For instance, when I worked in the investment management industry, I was working and driving so much that I didn’t prioritize exercise. As a result, my body and mind suffered. Thanks to encouragement from good friends, I renewed my commitment to exercise by joining a swim team and training for a half-marathon.

As I renewed my fitness goals, I developed a habit of tracking the amount of time I spent running, swimming or cycling. I entered my totals in a spreadsheet for years. From an outside perspective, I’m sure this seems like a strange habit. But I’ve discovered that tracking my daily activities enables me to meet my fitness targets.

One of my fitness goals for 2013 is to walk more often. I cycle a lot, but I need variety in my exercise routine otherwise I get bored. During the first few weeks of January I wasn’t walking as often as I wanted. I knew that I needed external motivation to get out the door.

Last year, my brother in-law, Tyler, told me about his new gadget called a Fitbit. After a year of considering a Fitbit, I decided to purchase one and I’m glad I did. I tend to be data driven person, so being able to see how many steps I’m taking each day is eye opening. For instance, if I don’t take a walk in the early morning, I only take about 50 steps. Since I’ve started tracking my steps, I’ve been walking between 2-4 miles a day; with the goal of reaching 10,000 steps a day.

I’m getting more exercise and taking lots of photos too! Plus, walking is meditative and it’s one of the best ways to clear the fog out of my head. For example, this morning I wasn’t able to focus on writing. Instead of staring at my computer screen, I went for a walk and brought my journal along. On my walk, I stopped frequently to take photos and to jot down thoughts in my notebook. As a result, I knew what I needed to accomplish this week. By the time I got back to the tiny house, I felt less sluggish and ready to write. Tracking my daily activities helps me reach new fitness goals, be more productive and stave off grumpy moods.

I’d love to hear from you. Do you exercise everyday or set fitness goals? Why or why not?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • timethief February 5, 2013, 2:29 pm

    Hello there,
    The fibromyalgia and arthritis I suffer with means that pounding the pavement is not healing exercise for me. I had to give up instructing aerobics and horseback riding. In fact, I had to give up hiking, running and high impact aerobics totally because my body began to break down as evidenced by joint pain and swelling from leaking synovial fluid.

    However, I do exercise almost every day, despite chronic pain. I have learned how to work through it to get to where I need and want to be without going over the edge. Granted, there are dark times when I become depressed and fail to exercise at all but I ususally come back fairly quickly as not exercising inclines me towards grumpiness like too . I just surfaced again from one of those dark times and I’m back on my program again.

    Stretching, Breathing, Relaxing – These exercises consist of stretching and holding different joint and muscle groups for 10 to 30 seconds each. I do 1O complete body circuits.

    Strength or Resistance Training – These exercises can be either with or without weights. I use only 2 lb. weights as my wrists and hands are very weak.

    Cardiovascular Aerobic Activities – I alternate. Walking briskly for 40 minutes one day and 30 – 40 low impact aerobics the next day.

    Swimming is recommended but I’m not into pools and in summer when I’m on the beach I prefer to paddle around, or suntan or to walk and beach comb instead.

    My goals are very humble one step forward at a time goals. I keep moving because helps me make the happiness choice between my ears. I keep track of my exercise and what I eat in a private journal because record keeping keeps me honest and motivated.

    re: your exercise program
    Best wishes to you.

  • Shawn February 5, 2013, 3:21 pm

    I got a fitbit this year and find it very motivating. I take breaks to do a few flights of stairs during my workday. If I get to the end of the day with too few steps, I will walk around why I talk on the phone or while watching a little tv.

  • Nadya February 5, 2013, 4:31 pm

    Hi Tammy! I have read your blog for a long time and this is the first time for me to comment. Your writing and photography are very inspirational to me. Your blog feels like a happy calm place. Thank you.

    I love tracking my steps too! It is very motivational. I use my old(isn- 3 years old) iPod. It has a built in nike fit pedometer. I pop it in my pocket at the start of every day and it tracks my steps. On bitter cold days I walk on the treadmill at 4mi/hr for one hour and when it is nice outside I walk for 30-60 min on my lunch hour.

    Also, I try to do strength training at home using workout DVDs like the Tracy Anderson Mat one or free youtube workouts.

  • Jenny February 5, 2013, 7:55 pm

    I go to yoga usually 3 times per week, and the days when I don’t do that I like to go for at least a 2 mile walk. I tried to be a runner for a while but it just never worked for me. I like slower, simpler things I guess!

  • s.e. February 5, 2013, 8:06 pm

    For me walking is good for my body and it also clears and calms my mind. I prefer to walk outside but if I can’t because of weather or commitments, I walk in my house in 10 minute chunks. I also try not to sit for more than an hour at a time.

  • A February 6, 2013, 2:44 am

    I built a 45 minute walk into my day a few years ago – rather than take a bus downtown to catch my connecting bus, I decided to walk. The first bus was sometimes late, so walking ended up being more reliable. So I get at least that on a daily basis. It helps me connect with nature and spend time away from everything. Recently I added a short bit of weightlifting and higher intensity cardio at the YMCA I pass on my walk. On weekends, I hike and/or bike as well.

    I have no real goals except to do what makes me feel good and keeps me healthy!

  • Alicia February 6, 2013, 7:54 am

    I walk daily; it is part of my job as a caregiver. In the morning, I spend 40 minutes on different exercises: yoga, core cardio, basic cardio, upper-body boot camp, and lower-body interval training.

  • Jill February 6, 2013, 1:13 pm

    My goals are to feel good and stay healthy, to spend time outside. I run, hike, do yoga, lift weights, and walk, walk, walk. Walks are a vital and regular part of my life, in part because I have two working breed dogs who love to walk. They go for about 5-6 miles every morning (on the three mornings I have yoga, they run with their dad) and again for another 1-3 miles in the afternoon, with one longer hike on the weekend. This is great for me because as a writer, I can go for long stretches at a desk (one standing, one sit down) and forget altogether that I have a body. A walk is magic, medicine. It clears my head, gets me unstuck, lifts my mood, gets me moving, reminds me to breathe. It brings my mind back to my body, gets my feet on the ground, holds both my mind and body in the present moment, in the same place at the same time. It’s definitely a practice for me, just like writing, yoga, and meditation.

  • Sandy February 6, 2013, 2:08 pm

    I have been walking four miles a day for the last 25 years. I ran before that. My whole day is out of sync if I can’t get out for my walk. I have been using a Fit Bit for a year or so now and I am obsessive about getting my steps. My personal goal is 15,000 steps most days although some days I only get the minimum 10000. I need to take other commenters suggestions and just walk extra in my house to make sure I always get the 100,000 per week. I feel like I failed when I get my weekly report. I also do Barre and Pilates workout DVDs and yoga several times a week. I take a group exercise class 4 mornings a week which is a mixture of aerobic dance, kickboxing, 30 min. shred or boot camp style workouts. All of these sure help add some extra steps. I do find myself spending too much time sitting at my computer as I have been now so I’m getting up to feed the dogs and then put in a yoga DVD. Has anyone here tried connecting with friends via Fit Bit. I don’t want to publish my stats to my Facebook page but would love the motivation of comparing steps and ideas for getting steps with others.

    • Tammy Strobel February 6, 2013, 3:50 pm

      Sandy – I haven’t tried connecting with others on Fitbit yet. Only by brother in-law is my Fitbit buddy. I believe you can send out friend requests on the Fitbit website. I’m still learning how it all works. 🙂 For me, it’s great to hear what others are doing to stay active and healthy.

      As a side note there are privacy settings on the Fitbit profile page. You can hide a lot of information from the general public, like weight, steps taken, etc.


  • AM February 6, 2013, 3:31 pm

    I use to exercise a lot, even doing the AT back in ’04, but have gotten out of the habit. Recently I started up again, using the rehab dept where I work. I’m up to doing about an hour on the eliptical and 15-20min on the rower or the “arm bike” as I call it, usually 5-6 days a week. Almost every morning I do some stretches while watching the news. It has been so cold here where I live, -20’s for the last month, I haven’t been getting outside to exercise. When it’s warmer I like to take the dogs for hikes, and biking a lot. Exercising really helps my mental attitude, and calms me down.

  • Syamim H. February 6, 2013, 9:24 pm

    I just walked home from college. I prefer to walk alone during cloudy, plus a bit chilly day. I do a lot of thinking while walking. Somehow, the vehicles on the road do not seem to bother me at all. I lost in my own world of thoughts, and suddenly I have just arrived home. The distance and time seem shorter, and quicker when I am on my own.

  • Mama Minou February 6, 2013, 11:01 pm

    I love to get outside and move, even in the rain (which there is a lot of in the PNW).
    Motivation is such an interesting thing. Tracking doesn’t work well for me. I tend to get tired of it, or inch my goals up progressively higher until they reach an unsustainable point, and then become all-or-nothing about them. For me, what works best is just aiming to do something daily. I know a run makes me feel the most alive, while a walk is slow enjoyment.

    However, my techie husband has used an app called “my fitness pal” which he found highly motivating for increasing his activity level *and* healthy eating. It really works for him, keeping him interested and on track.

  • Beth February 7, 2013, 8:31 am

    I have found exercise critical to remaining balanced. I used to be a personal trainer and have set goals for myself in the past, but don’t anymore. I found I liked the training but the event was always kind of a let down. So last winter I trained for an indoor triathlon (the crazy things you do in cold climates) but I bailed on the actual event.

    I think fitness goals and exercise in the past was something of a proving ground or keeping up with the Jones’ type of activity for me. Now I bicycle when the weather permits and prefer riding alone so that I can ride fast or slow without feeling like I’m dragging someone along or dragging someone down. I swim, run, walk, do yoga or whatever else it is that strikes my fancy. I don’t get concerned with tracking anything except for the datapoint of seeing my heart rate. I use my heart rate to gauge if I can push harder or need to back off. I have learned that I’ve got nothing to prove to anyone (even to myself) and the process of activity is enough to keep me happy and continue putting one foot in front of the other.

    With all that said, this summer I would like to do a century ride…for the fun of it. 🙂

  • Kaylin Lydia February 9, 2013, 9:33 am

    This summer I started doing a seven mile bike ride around the shore town I live in. I often go after work in the warmer seasons when the sun is setting and admire it from my bike. Gives a new meaning to exercise for me! In these winter months I have done this practice less and less. Instead, I have been doing about ten minutes of yoga a few mornings a week. It is such a tiny thing but it has such a positive difference in my overall well-being.

  • Compra Venta Valencia February 10, 2013, 9:34 am

    You are a true inspiration…
    I also love walking, as it reminds me the days I used to do it with my grandma.
    I will be coming to blog very often now I found it. Thanks.

  • Dan Williams February 10, 2013, 10:55 am

    I’m very pleased to see so many folks talk about walking as fitness instead of running/jogging or other forms of medium-intensity cardio work. Fitness for non-competitive athletes should mean being fit-to-live and fit-to-survive. Unfortunately, our society has preached forms of exercise that are lethal to our fitness measured on those terms: jogging at medium-intensity is bad for heart health, but is the activity most think of to improve their “fitness”. One more piece of conventional wisdom to work at undoing…

  • Matt @ SpoonMatters February 13, 2013, 9:22 am

    Nice thoughts about walking and tracking exercise. I don’t count my steps, but I do track my exercise each day in myfitnesspal, and I set daily health and fitness goals for myself that change about every 4 months or so. I think it’s wonderful that you can just walk out of your tiny house and see so many different things, and I hope to one day live in a similar place, rather than the boring cookie-cutter neighborhood I currently walk around. Some of my fondest memories are from walking in beautiful places.

  • Kathi February 14, 2013, 8:18 am

    Hi Tammy! I’ve been following your blog for quite a while, found it when I was Car Free and looking for info on the lifestyle. I had to comment because I just bought the fit bit zip a couple of weeks ago. Now that I have a car again I had stopped walking and working out. I needed motivation to get walking for fun and exercise again, and needed to be able to keep track of what I’m doing without killing the battery in my cellphone. Other than a trip through the washing machine, it has been great! My high so far is 70000 steps including the treadmill at the gym in my office building when I can’t get outside due to the weather.