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I Tried Walking 10,000 Steps a Day & Here's What Happened

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As someone who's struggled with weight my entire life, there's no worse feeling than looking down at the scale and seeing the numbers climb up. After thoroughly researching various dieting tips — some as ridiculous as only drinking hot pepper water for a week straight — I found that the more legitimate medical websites all recommended walking 10,000 steps a day. 

When I first saw a number as large as 10k I panicked. No way could I do this. But then I remembered how badly I wanted to be healthy again. I've been consistently gaining weight since about 2014, when I injured my back and had to get surgery. Bed rest took a toll on my body and I ended up gaining thirty pounds in six months. 

Unfortunately, after the surgery, there wasn't much physical activity I could do besides walking. Reminding myself of my formerly athletic and healthy body, I decided I would give the 10,000 steps a go. 

The first few days were surprising, if nothing else. I decided to measure how many steps I took in one average day, without going out of my way to hit 10k. As I made my way through my day, I was sure I'd at least come close to 10,000, but when I finally checked my number at the end of the day it was less than 2,000. Um, what?! I was sure I had accomplished my goal, but I was hit with a very rude awakening. I knew I would have to diverge from my normal routine and go out of my way to add the 8,000 steps I was missing.

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By my second week, I still hadn't quite mastered a perfect routine. I had gone out of town for a few days and, admittedly, forgot about my personal goal. I typically live a more sedentary lifestyle at home and there were some days when I gave into the temptation of staying indoors and watching Netflix instead of going out for a walk. I did, however, still manage to lose just under three pounds by walking an extra 2,000 steps on the days I did walk, and cutting carbs from my diet. I tended to carbo-load for all of my meals (because pizza is a thing), but I knew that cutting them out cold turkey would definitely put my body into overdrive so I could start losing weight faster. I knew I had to really push myself for the last two weeks. I was determined to continue managing my weight and begin my healthier lifestyle. I began to make daily trips to a nearby reservoir where I'd seen people run and walk their dogs, and decided to walk laps around the water to get extra steps in. It was great because I would see people of all shapes, sizes, and ages walking near me. Seeing an elderly man jogging on the same path made me realize that I really didn't have any excuses to stop me from achieving my goal. Besides, who doesn't want to walk when there's a chance of running into an adorable dog?

Week three was brutal because I made a point of pushing myself to walk, even when I was exhausted after a long day and just wanted to binge-watch Parks and Rec. We all have days when a giant cookie and a fuzzy blanket just feel right, but I only had four weeks to finish my experiment so I pushed myself to continue. 

I had asked my mom to join me on my walks and having her by my side seemed to be the piece that was missing this whole time. Every day after she got off work, we would walk and catch up on our days. It really helped to have a distraction to focus on, instead of how many steps I was walking. We figured out that about five laps around the water was enough to get me close enough to my goal of 10,000 steps that we could just walk together and not be overly focused on whether or not we needed to keep going. In fact, I had actually started to get really close to my goal — like 9,365 steps close. Having a partner to walk with also helped keep me accountable. I knew I couldn't skip out on walking or cheat on my diet because I had my mom there making sure I stuck to my goal.  

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By week four, I finally felt like I had gotten a hang of my new routine. I genuinely started enjoying my daily walks and I didn't feel like I had to constantly monitor my steps anymore. I felt comfortable and happy. Despite still being over my target weight and my slow start, I finally felt like I was settling into a new workout routine that I could actually do without harming my back.  

Overall, since I first started this experiment, I've lost six pounds and, better yet, I feel healthier. I no longer feel hopeless about my weight and, despite it being a slow process, I'm loving watching the pounds go down. This was something I felt I had to do for my health and for my own peace of mind. Gone are the days where I would run five miles a day, but reaching this goal after what my body has had to endure over these past two years is just as much of an accomplishment.


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