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How Walking 10,000 Steps a Day Helped Me Get My Health Back

I hoped working from home would change my routine. After Covid hit, I actually thought I would have time for myself as commuting wouldn’t be an issue anymore.

Who am I kidding? I was somehow working more at home than from the office. 

Before the pandemic, I was working a lot. And I mean it. Wake up, go to work, come home, go to my second job, get home, have dinner, and pass out from tiredness. Who said being a university professor was easy?

I’m Joe, 63, and, well, as some may have guessed, I didn’t really have time for anything. I would try to walk my dog and jog in the park during the weekends with my daughter (which was literally the only exercise I’d do), but I was always too tired to go. 

And to make things worse, staying at home the entire day meant I was eating non-stop. Have 5 minutes before the next class? Enough time to go to the kitchen and open a cookie jar. Or get a soda from the fridge. 

And as happened to many people who worked from home during the pandemic, my self-esteem, my disposition, and my health all held hands and went downhill. Just my weight happened to climb up some steps.

I was safe, but stressed out and tired and doing nothing about it.

There I was. Walking away from my problems (you’ll get the pun in a minute).

Can’t walk away from a fatty liver

Of course, I knew I wasn’t in my peak form.

But I spent a long time unaware of how bad my health was. If I’m being honest, the thought of going to the doctor didn’t even cross my mind. And everyone was afraid of getting near a hospital. It’s a pandemic, after all.

A few months in, I had a completely unrelated issue, so I had to go to a dermatologist for treatment.

As the medicine could have side effects, she recommended I do the usual blood tests and an ultrasound to see if my liver was healthy.

One week later, I had the tests done, and she didn’t like what she saw. 

I was suffering from fatty liver disease. It was nothing major and easily treatable, but it usually comes with high blood sugar, triglycerides, and other issues. 

Even though I had none of the symptoms – like abdominal pain, nausea and swelling – she still referred me to a hepatologist who explained to me how fatty liver disease can happen in non-alcoholics. 

It wasn’t anything to worry about too much, but it had to be looked into. 

She made the usual recommendations: a balanced diet and regular exercise. 

I found recipes online and tried to cut off sugary treats, fatty foods, and almost everything fried. Also, a ton of water throughout the day.

And, of course, I was very excited to hit the gym (that’s a lie).

Trying (and failing) to get healthy

I didn’t think putting a foot in front of the other would give me any results, but the doctor told me otherwise.

According to a study by the London School of Economics, high-impact walking can be more effective in losing weight and keeping it down when compared to other activities, such as going to the gym1.

I told the doctor that this made me feel better, as I had no patience to go to the gym. The whole process of getting a membership, getting to know the place, commuting, talking to an instructor, learning how to use the equipment, and the worst – how boring the entire thing was.

So I took her advice. 

I had a serious one-on-one with my scale and made a mental note of how much I wanted to lose. 

And it’s just walking! Easy peasy.

Well, yeah. But I started small because I honestly couldn’t handle more than 30 minutes every morning. I felt my legs burning and my heart pounding every time I encountered a hill. 

But that’s what my doctor said: the key is consistency and moderation. If I started with two hours in the morning of jogging non-stop, I could feel sick and overwhelmed. And I’d give up way quicker. 

Those 30 minutes were a good start, it seemed.

Now fast forward a few months. I should have made some progress, right? The doctor was… well, not happy. 

I think the problem was my technique. You see, I felt that after every 30-minute walk, I deserved a treat. So, I’d pass by a bakery to get a sweet or something. Or the infamous cookie jar always staring at me. All gifts to myself for the hard work.

I know it seems stupid saying it now, but at the time, I thought I had found the best motivator. 

As one would expect, the doctor disagreed. She said I needed a nutritionist as soon as possible. And that I would need to increase both frequency and intensity of the walks.

She was blunt. And I knew she was right. I needed to change my diet, lose weight and become healthier.

First step in the right direction

My partner had one of those watches that shows your heartbeat and daily steps, so she offered it to me so I would walk around.

I tried other things, but it was a little inconvenient having 5 different apps on my phone for different things (counting calories, counting steps, heart rate, dieting etc.). 

I mainly used the step counter as it was the most fun. I kept trying to beat the “score” from the previous day.

I also kept making little changes to my routine so I could add in a few extra steps here and there to reach my goals.

Instead of driving everywhere, whenever I had time, I would take the subway, get off a few stops earlier and walk the rest. I would take my breaks while working at home to go outside and walk around the block, taking my dog with me.

On tougher weeks, at first, I would allow myself to be lazy and rest. However, I noticed that walking made me feel better not only physically but also mentally. I didn’t feel so stressed out, the guilt of “wasting time walking” never got to me. 

That’s when I realized that I actually enjoy walking. Seeing the scenery, breathing fresh air. My daughter and I would get the dog and go to the park most weekends. I never knew my neighborhood was so beautiful.

Eventually, I set higher numbers: 8,000 steps per day, at least 3 times a week. Then I naturally felt I could increase that: a few more blocks or a few more minutes wouldn’t hurt.

It would not be long until I would lose 50 pounds.

That’s when, after so many lazy months, I finally walked 10,000 steps in one day.

It wasn’t that difficult, to be honest. I didn’t do it all in one go, and stepping up my game felt natural. As long as I drank a lot of water and it wasn’t too hot outside, I could do it!

Walking 10,000 steps every day was not only realistic, but I was actually enjoying it!

Now one step further

Walking my dog in the park has a lot of benefits. Both my dog and I do some exercise, I have time to talk to my daughter, and we can also meet a lot of dog owners.

Marion was around the same age as me. My partner and I knew her because our dogs were play buddies. 

She was walking her lab on a sunny, but chilly Sunday. My (and my dog’s) favorite weather.

While playing ball with the pups, we started talking about working out, and I told her how happy I was to have achieved 10,000 steps a day and how it was slowly becoming part of my routine.

She commended me and showed me the watch she used for counting miles. I said I used one, but it wasn’t for me because I already had a thousand different apps on my phone that I barely used.

Marion then suggested an app that would give me the benefits of multiple ones: Walking.Diet.

She opened it on her phone and showed it to me. At first, I already noticed that it was nice to look at, as it didn’t have thousands of popups every second – and it was very simple to use.

The main thing she said that convinced me was the personalization aspect. Apparently, there are lots of apps that come up with meals and a workout plan for you, but Walking.Diet starts with a quiz, so they can create a personalized plan just for me. 

After thanking Marion and playing with my dog a little bit, I got home and tried Walking.Diet for myself.

So, the quiz. They asked how often I’d exercise, if I had any health issues, and what I wanted to do – which was extremely unique for these kinds of apps that usually just repeat the same tips and guides for everyone.

The app came up with a program made especially for me, suited for my needs. And things only went up from there.

And if you are even a little like me – know how to eat healthy but have a hard time remembering everything your nutritionist told you – this app offers some recipes and articles about food and fitness to help improve eating habits.

Especially if you are a big fan of sugar, you can even buy a healthy dessert cookbook. So now I can eat my treats and stay healthy? Sweet! Sorry, dad joke.

Another feature is motivational tips and guides that the app itself would offer, but the best part was setting goals that weren’t so restrictive. 

I get annoyed and anxious if I have an obligation to do something at a specific time, especially considering my busy daily life. So the fact that the plan could be changed made me feel less intimidated.

Little steps can take you far

And that’s my story. 

Over a year later, I still have a lot to reach my “perfect” health and weight, but the changes I’ve made show. A lot.

I still eat sweets and get lazy now and then, but all these changes were huge for me.

First of all – liver. It took me a long time, but my liver is as good as new! 

Not only that, but I also lost around 50 pounds, I look better, my overall health has improved, and my exams are much better. I don’t think I’ve ever felt this good. 

I definitely recommend walking the proverbial extra mile if you think exercising is not for you. For me, it was!

Take a free 1-minute quiz and find out how you can lose weight on your own terms with the Walking.Diet app

Results may vary due to personal features.

Source:

  1. https://www.lse.ac.uk/lse-health/news-events/2015/brisk-walking 
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4 Comments

  1. This is what threw me off at first. One person says walk to lose weight, the next fitness guru says lift weights to lose weight. I’ve been using Walking.Diet for a few months now and already see changes. Walking was the only thing that worked for me.

  2. My last doctor said something along the lines of how contrary to popular belief exercise alone rarely leads to significant weight loss. Sure exercise is great but it’s mostly your diet when it comes to getting and staying slim. This app combines both, so I might give it a try.

  3. When I was super unhealthy years ago I also had fatty liver disease, walking got me started on the road to getting better. Then eventually I was able to do 10,000 steps. Walking.Diet helped me a lot, even marching at home. Works like a charm.

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