Falling short with Healthmiles goal


   I’ll go ahead and admit this up front—I fell short of the top Healthmiles goal last year and thus missed out on $100 of free money. Yes, that is right, your Staying Fit columnist had too many days of chosen inactivity and had fewer steps in 2010 than in 2009.
            With the tracking software Healthmiles uses, I did gain some insights on this past year and noticed some trends that I can use to improve in 2011.  I hope that in sharing my own journey in fitness (successes and failures) that you may be helped or encouraged. 
            Every month I went over 220,000 steps (highest in May at nearly 288,000!), but in December, I barely cleared 198,000 steps—quite a drop.  This corresponds with the number of calories burned each month as well. Every month I burned more than 10,000 calories (averaging 765 calories burned per day), but in December I burned just over 9,000.  All these numbers mean that I sat on my rear end more in December and didn’t get moving!  Lesson learned.
            I was more active in the warmer months, so no surprise there. It’s easier to be active when the weather is more pleasant.  But I did see opportunity to walk indoors, even if it was up and down the hall in my house, or jogging in place in front of the TV.
            This past year, as opposed to 2009, I averaged more steps per day, which was encouraging.  I also achieved a personal best of more than 25,000 steps in one day.
            So, on the whole, I improved in some areas while falling short in others. It still wows me that I have taken a little over 5.8 million steps since January 2009, which equates to 3,048 miles!  That’s like walking to New Orleans.  And back.  Three times.
            When I had a goal to aim for, I exercised more, and more consistently.  I wanted to do a sprint triathlon in August, so I began to prepare in May.  My highest totals across the board were in the months from May through August.  After my goal was achieved, I noticed I backed off exercise.  In September, after the triathlon, my step totals dropped by 30,000.  Another insight I gained was that as the weather began to get colder, I began to exercise less.  October to December showed a steady decline in how many steps I did each month.  Seeing the hard, cold numbers will help this year so I can be prepared and plan accordingly.  There’s a carpeted walking track not 30 feet from my office.  It should be easy enough to take a break from emails a couple times a day in the colder months and get some extra steps.  Now that I’ve put it in print and my loyal nine readers know, I have to stay true to it!
            So, I did not meet my personal goal for this past year. That is disappointing, but I’m not going to let it pull me down for this upcoming year.  Instead, I will use the disappointment as fuel for progress and improvement in 2011.
            Perhaps you’ve experienced a setback in your exercise routine or fitness goals. You have a choice—let it defeat you, or use it to propel you toward betterment in the future.  Share it with someone else so they can encourage you and then hold you accountable for improvement in the weeks ahead.  Failure isn’t fatal and often serves to move us forward if we’ll use it right.  Let’s all get up and get moving more in the coming year!
            If you are not on Healthmiles and are eligible, sign up and get walking—you’ll be amazed at what happens in a year.  If you are not eligible for Healthmiles, then go purchase a good, solid pedometer and see what results you get.  I’d love to hear your stories—send them to john.a.page@ngumc.net
Dr. John Page is an associate at Athens First UMC.  His book, “The Almighty in the Ordinary,” can be found at www.amazon.com