Rachel from Trapped Between a Scream and a Hug asks me:
"I have tried so hard to be consistent with my pedometer and reaching 10,000 steps. But unless I walk about a mile a day, outside of regular mom activity I always fall short. How do have time for that?"
Well, the simple answer is, as with anything, I make time. I don't have any more (or less) than you do.
I have lots of reasons to not fit exercise into my day. I already get up before the sun to drive to Seminary, pack lunches, cook breakfast, yada-yada-yada, and get the kids off to school. I have a toddler. (Enough said.) I have 4 of my own, and 2 bonus children. I have a husband. I have 14 piano students. I am a college student. I am in the YW Presidency. I write. I have to clean my house (I do not have a housekeeper, though I keep threatening), cook dinner, do homework with kids, ETC. I'm sure I do many other things.
But it's actually because of how busy I am that I choose to walk. Let me explain.
Walking is easy, and it's free. I do not have time to drive to a gym, even though I love working out at gyms. There's no way I could fit that into my routine at this point in my life. I love to do video tapes too, but it's harder for me to do them consistently, and exercise must be consistent to be effective. I can walk anywhere, whether I'm at home, or away. It's just about the best exercise around and can help strengthen your joints, muscles, and bones. It's great for the heart. And you can do it all at once, or in smaller segments. Doctors have found that the effects on health are the same if you do one 30 minute walk, or three 10 minute walks.
Also, because of how busy I am, and how thinly stretched I am, I need some time for me. I have been amazed at how affected I am by just getting out of the house and moving, briskly or slowly, breathing in the fresh air, and having some time to think or pray as I walk. I come back happier. Also, if I don't fit it in, I find that my energy level really sags midday and I struggle with fatigue. Even that 30 minute minimum gives me the boost I need (as does eating well) so that I can do all the things I have to do, and do them cheerfully. This makes a big difference to my family. Yes, I make dinner and help with homework, but the attitude with which I do these things has a tremendous impact on the kids and the husband. When I am taking care of me, I am able to really pour myself into my duties at home with an increased portion of love and gratitude. I feel like I am serving rather than slaving.
It isn't too hard, really. If I am just doing my normal Mom things, I can log about 6000 steps a day. A mile is about 2400 steps, and you can do 3000-4000 steps in 30 minutes depending on how quickly you're walking. Sometimes I don't get to go for a walk until 8:30 at night once the baby is down and things have settled down for the night. There have been a few nights where I just gave myself permission to not reach the goal for whatever reason, but most nights, I feel so much better if I have ended my day with integrity for myself and the goal I set for my health and well-being.
Yesterday was a rough one for me. We had Stake Conference, and we had to get there an hour early to get a seat. Not much walking at church. We came home and I took a nap while the baby did. Then I started dinner because the missionaries were coming over. I was so dismayed to see that at 3:00pm I had only 3100 steps! I just had no umph. But I also knew there was no way I was going to start out February by not hitting my goal. So, I put the baked potatoes in the oven, laced up my shoes and went for a walk. Just around the neighborhood. I used the time to think of things I am grateful for and how I can be more loving since this is my second favorite time of the year (Valentine's). I walked for about 25 minutes. We had dinner, cleaned up, etc. At 8:00 I was still at only 7800, so I took my daughter (and a big stick, at my husband's insistence, since it was dark) and we walked for another 30 minutes around the neighborhood. The air was cool and the stars were out. It was nice to spend that time together talking, and when I went to bed I had 10,500 steps, and a peaceful heart.
I sneak in my steps however I can. I walk Aiden to school instead of driving him. I go up and down the stairs as much as possible. If I have relatively close-by errands to run, I put the baby in the stroller and walk, like today we walked to the copy store. I park farther away at stores so I can get in more steps. They all add up. If I vacuum my downstairs, I can get 350 steps. Hey, that needs to be done anyway. Sometimes I turn on the music and the kids and I have a dance party. Whatever it takes. I take my kids with me all the time. They love having that time with me and are always up for a walk. When I find that 10K is not much of a challenge anymore, I'll increase my goal to 12K. There were many days last month I hit that anyway.
Hey, Rachel? You can do it! Today's only the 2nd of the month. Start today! You are so worth it. Your family will become your cheerleaders. Tally up your steps at the end of the month and if you beat me, I'll send you a present. How's that sound?
By the way? I'm doing great today. It's not even 1pm and I'm already at 7800 steps!