Taking 1 Million Steps to help prevent Type 2 – by Jessica Wilson Leary
Jessica Wilson Leary, blogger and mum to her one-year-old boy, tells us why and how she’s been stepping up her 1 Million Step Challenge which finishes at the end of September. She’s one of 8,000 people who signed up.
When asked why I wanted to walk 1 million steps for Diabetes UK it wasn’t just one thing that came to mind. I was looking for a challenge, something to push me to get fit. It’s a selfish reason I admit but it’s true and I’ve fought with my health for most of my life.
I always thought Diabetes was far away in the future but seeing both my parents diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes really shook me. What surprised me in a positive way was that they’ve both been able to control it with a healthier diet and lifestyle. Having a one-year-old son has changed my perspective on life now and caring more about reaching old age.
The steps are my starting block so to speak. I want to use it to make walking a habit to then change the way I eat. I know I’m unhealthy and have a long journey but I feel like having my little one has changed me. I’m 3 stone lighter than I was before I had him and have kept it off. If
I wasn’t walking or eating less bad food I’d be back to my original weight.
I want to be able to run, not just for the bus but after my 1-year-old tiny human. He is almost walking on his own steam and I want to be able to keep up with him. To live long enough to see who he becomes.
The 1 Million Step Challenge is part of that for me, I get to help raise some funds and improve my health at the same time. Simply by taking care of my health, I’m reducing the Type 2 epidemic in a small way.
How to fit those steps in
When it comes to walking I find it both easy and hard. When you look at the talk of 1 million steps it can be rather daunting even when you say you have 3 months to do it in. If anything that’s worse because 3 months seems like a long time. In 92 days you have to fit in an average of 11k steps a day. Even Sundays (my theoretical day of rest) or my lazy I’m not at work day. To me breaking it down into small chunks made it seem like small goals building up to one big one million.
I found having a step counter really useful because I way overestimated what I walked at work. Even being on my feet all day I thought I did more than the maybe 2000 I was doing. Then get some walking trainers. They don’t to be expensive but you’re going to be doing a lot of distance in them to make sure they fit and are comfortable. Also where ever you go take a water bottle with you, you will get dehydrated especially with the weather we’ve been having.
Walking to work
What really changed it for me was choosing to get up early for work to walk there and back. This is me choosing to get up earlier which isn’t easy. Not because I get less sleep but it means I’m spending even more time away from my 1-year-old son. I’m very lucky in that I know he is safe at home with my husband who is a stay at home dad. Knowing I get photo updates all day at work pushes me to do more knowing that I don’t have that side of life to worry about so much.
In 40 minutes at a very leisurely pace, I could do 4,500 steps. So walking back as well would be about 9,000 in total plus 2,000 gets me about 11,000. I can’t say I do that every work day because sometimes I just don’t have the energy to do it. You’d think after more than a decade of being an engineer I’d be used to tired feet but no.
I’ve had days where I didn’t even hit 1k but I’ve surprised myself with 18k days too. I think this really is more about the journey as a whole forming habit, making the choice to keep moving forward.
Tips To Make It Easier
Put your headphones on
My best tip for walking alone is either music or even better podcasts. Having a conversation to listen to can make 40 minutes disappear. I’ve been working my way through The Guilty Feminist podcast by Deborah Frances White. She’s a comedian who talks about feminist subjects, as she puts it the hypocrisies that undermine it. Its self-improvement meets ‘nobody’s perfect’ with a lot of laughs.
Find a walking partner
If you can get a friend to join you for walks then that’s even better. I’ve been walking more by setting a walking date ahead of time. It doesn’t have to be climbing a mountain, we did a walk around a lake and got 5k more steps in than I would have. We take our little ones with us and get even more of a workout pushing the prams. Other Sunday walks have included to our local supermarket which is about the same distance. It all adds up to more than you were doing before.
Find a way
I watched a Youtube video with Mel Robbins that made such an impact on me. It was about her concept the ‘5-second rule’. The idea is we all have the choice to act upon a goal we think of. If you choose to act within the 5 seconds of thinking about it you’re more likely to do it. If not then it wasn’t that important of a goal. When I wake up in the morning I say to myself “I want more sleep”. I then throw in “but I also need to pay my bills”. I instantly tell myself to get out of bed and wash my teeth. The simple act wakes me up.
If it’s important to you, then you find a way. In the same way, watching the latest episode of Suits can be more important than going for a walk. It’s all a choice, even when it rains you can find an umbrella. You can walk around your living room or dance around while washing the dishes. Carving out small 10 minutes here or there each time can add about 1000 steps.
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Jessica blogs at What Jessica did.