21k Steps a Day for 21 Days!

Part 1:  The First Seven Days

Well, I’m one third of the way through my 21k steps per day challenge. I know you may be thinking, “WHAT”Let me give you a little background. I have a coaching client who has been very frustrated with the number of steps she gets per day, about five thousand, which is around the average for an adult in the U.S.  She has a number of obstacles that she has to get around to increase her steps, a long commute, a desk job; however as the weather gets nicer in the Northeast, it’s a great time to form an exercise habit.

My client has committed to doubling her steps per day for 21 days.  It typically takes two full weeks to form a habit so we added a third week for good measure.  Since January, I’ve been averaging just over 11k steps per day.  So being an engaged coach, I decided to take the journey with her, she is adding 5k per day, to get to her goal of 10k steps. I’m adding 10k per day, to get to my goal of 21k steps.  Additionally, during the initial 21 days, we are not looking at the weekly average; we are making it a daily goal.

Challenges and Advantages

Some of my obstacles are, I’m a coach.  When I’m on the phone with a client, I tend to sit at my desk as I take a lot of notes during a session.  I had to figure out a way to get some steps in during a coaching session.  Another obstacle, I’m a writer working on my fourth novel.  When your goal is to write 2500 words per day that equates to a lot of time in a chair.

On the flip side, I have a number of advantages.  I work from home so I no longer have a two to three hour daily commute.  I’m an active person and I have gym in my basement (which includes a treadmill).  I have a dog, although she’s a 165 lbs English Mastiff, so our walks are not very far. The other day we did a whopping 500 steps and then she just sat down and wouldn’t budge until I started heading back toward the house. (That’s Emma)!


I have to admit getting 21k steps per day has been difficult and painful.  The first day I barely got them in by 9:45 at night.  (I’m rarely up past 10 p.m.)  On the second day, I had 20K steps by 5 p.m.  On days 3, 4, and 5, I was completely exhausted.  By days 6 and 7, I was feeling more energetic.

We started this challenge on Wednesday, May 15, now it is 3pm on day 8 and as you can see I already have 18,516 steps which gives me plenty of time to get the last 2500.


What I’ve learned

I’ve learned that I really need to get the majority of steps in by 5 p.m.  That takes a lot of pressure off as I have a fair amount of coaching sessions in the evening. I try to get at least four miles in on the treadmill, first thing.  That gives me a big mental boost to see that, before I shower, I already have around 9k to 10k steps.  I also learned that just because I’m doing all of these steps, I can’t neglect weight training, using the rowing machine and ski erg, as well as the very important yoga. All of these activities count toward my “active minutes” but not towards steps. If I’m scheduled to do any of those activities I have to do them first and then get on the treadmill otherwise they won’t happen.

How am I doing this?

Beyond getting a big chunk of steps out of the way on the treadmill, I’ve become a pacer.  I can get 1000 steps done in 7 minutes and 30 seconds at a normal walking pace.  I try to stand up and pace at least five minutes every hour, even if I’m on the phone. (The only time I can’t do that is if I’m using Skype or video chat).  Whenever I would hit a roadblock while writing, I used to scroll through social media or read articles about writing.  All I was doing was distracting myself versus thinking through my problem. Now I stand up and pace until I have solved the problem or my writing block.

Those who know me well know that a guilty pleasure is the Real Housewives of, “just about anywhere”.  I made a rule that I can only watch those shows while on the treadmill.  If I’m watching something live at night, I pace during commercial breaks.

Of course as with any big goal, the best thing to do is to break it down in to small achievable goals. I’m not looking at this challenge as a 21-day challenge. I’m looking at as 3 sets of 7 days.  Instead of potentially dreading the fact that I’m now only on day 8 and looking at how far I have to go; I’m excited to have already completed 1 of 3 sets and am on the first day of set 2.  Yay!  I’m already on the second set!

Are there any positive results?

I’m averaging 9.8 miles per day.  Mentally, I am feeling more focused, less anxious and generally happier.  I pace away any anxiety or frustration.  I’m sleeping better.  My husband says my libido has improved, I think we need to complete the whole experiment to validate that hypothesis.  I have lost 3 pounds.  All of these things are great motivators to keep up with the stepping!

 So now what?

Well, I’m happy to say that my client achieved her goal every day in set one.  We are both now on set two.  What would you like to challenge yourself to do for 21 days in 3 sets of 7?  Increase your steps? Increase your exercise? Decrease your time on social media? Form a habit? Quit a habit?  Let me know, I would love to hear from you and support you with your goals! Comment, like, share, commit!! Stay tuned for next week’s update!

It’s all about your success!

Sarah Stewart, MSW, CPC

Life Coach and Author

Find my latest romantic comedy here!

Sarah Stewart Consulting

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