Building up steps on the good days for long-term gain – by Hazel

To celebrate National Walking Month this May we’re sharing the story of Hazel one of our fantastic 1 Million Step Challenge steppers who completed our challenge last year.  She has Meniere’s disease an inner ear disorder that can cause people to experience symptoms such as vertigo and tinnitus, making walking difficult.

I first heard of diabetes when I was a child: my grandmother had Type 2 diabetes.  I remember occasions such as Christmas and birthdays in the early ’80s, when my Mum would try and find “diabetic chocolates” or other “goodies” for her.  Everything seemed to be different for her.

Fast forward a few (several) years, through a time of providing advice and support to university students with health conditions including Type 1 diabetes. Not only were they leaving home for the first time and suddenly having to take full responsibility for bills, shopping and cooking in the same way as other students, but they had the added responsibility of managing their diabetes without support from home.

A few years later, whilst training to be a Clinical Psychologist, I was placed in a paediatric service working primarily with young children with Type 1 diabetes, coming to terms with diagnosis and its lifelong implications.  I saw the impact of diabetes on the children and their families, and the amount of time, energy and thought went into managing the child’s diabetes on a day-to-day level.

I saw the benefits some young people and families gained from connecting with others with diabetes, both through local events  and accessing the forum on the Diabetes UK site.

Doing things my way

1 Million Steps resonated with me particularly, as it is a longer-term challenge and helps those taking part develop good habits. I have Meniere’s disease, which meant that one-day events could be touch-and-go: I can’t guarantee that I’ll be well on the day.

However, a three month challenge meant that I could do things my way, and if I had an unwell few days, I could make things up on other days.  I’m very competitive, so on those days I was well, I tended to try and step as much as I could.

It’s also a fantastic challenge to build habits.  I also have Asperger’s Syndrome, and had been finding it difficult to fit exercise in with my everyday routines. Without an incentive, I had my set ways and times for doing things, and that didn’t include much by way of moving.

1 Million Steps enabled me to challenge myself to complete a certain number of steps per day, to log my daily steps (loved the tracker!) and to calculate how many daily steps I needed to complete the challenge.

I could also take my million steps away from the crowds associated with many other challenges.  I took my camera with me on some amazing walks and took several hundred pictures of the Devon landscape!

One step at a time

I enjoyed the challenge: there were days when I felt exhausted and barely able to leave the house due to the Meniere’s, but there were also days when I could just feel the steps adding up.  On some days I could really build up my steps – particularly on Guide camp, when I was easily topping 20,000 per day in wellies!

At the beginning, 1 million sounds like a lot of steps to take, but watching my steps add up and having regular celebrations (e.g. 100,000 steps, 250,000 etc.) kept me going.

I enjoyed those times walking alone: enjoyed the soggy days (one of the pictures was taken on a very wet day). I was so pleased when I had finished, because there were definitely days when I thought I wouldn’t make it, when the world was spinning around and I couldn’t stand.

I’d suggest to anyone thinking of doing the challenge to just do it!  Do it alone or with a friend, but definitely do it!  Build up those steps on days you feel great, and if there’s a day when you need a break, be kind to yourself.

Use this as an opportunity to build up good habits for yourself: it’s not about hitting an enormous target on a single day, it’s about changing habits and on average stepping those 10,000 daily steps.

This, in addition to raising vital funds for diabetes research and support!

More information

Sign up today to 1 Million Step Challenge and take on over 10,000 steps a day for three months between 1 July and 30 September. It’s free to take part and we’ll support you all the way.


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