When warm weather fashion starts showing up in the front of stores do you feel good or bad? Does the coming of summer excite you or do you dread the thought?
Even if you don’t like cold temperatures, at least with winter you can hunker down and bundle up. You have permission to move less and wear lots of clothes. But, summer is a different deal. It’s a season of activity with styles you may feel are less flattering.
But, this year you determine it’s going to be different. This summer will be greeted by a new you…a fitter you. Yes, that’s what’s going to happen…we’ll call it a Summer Resolution!
There’s plenty of time before it gets really hot…plenty of time to lose that extra weight. And, isn’t that what we’re really talking about here. We can use a bunch of different words…fitter, stronger, healthier…but, what we REALLY mean is lighter. Nobody determines to get in shape for summer so it’s easier for them to cut the grass.
My family spends a couple weeks every summer at the beach. It would be dishonest to say that how I look is not important. It would also be dishonest to say that my journey towards fitness is only about getting and staying healthy. At least two weeks of my year is spent wearing a bathing suit for most of each day. So, yeah…it matters to me how that looks.
A few years ago we were about a month away from vacation and I was not happy with my appearance. I had some extra weight that I wanted off. So, I dove in the deep end for four weeks to lose it.
I had just transitioned from running to walking as my primary fitness activity. My first Fitbit was only five months old and I was still learning how to be intentional about walking and setting step goals. I realized if I wanted to lose that extra weight I needed to significantly ramp up how many steps I was getting each day.
I increased my daily goal by 50%. I also significantly changed my nutrition. Four weeks of moving a lot more and eating a lot less. And, guess what? It worked. I lost most of those unwanted pounds. And, then guess what happened after I got back from vacation?
My approach to summer fitness is far different today. I’ll explain in a moment. But, first let me show you the math if you want to slim down for summer by walking.
Obviously, I can only give you generalities. Every person is different. Every body responds differently. What follows is not a guarantee of results, but simply the math.
A pound of body fat is 3,500 calories according to most sources, including the Mayo Clinic. In other words we need to burn an extra 3500 calories to lose one pound.
The average person burns about 80 calories walking one mile. One mile is the equivalent of 2,000 steps. Here’s where the variables get really…variable. If you are heavier or walk faster you may burn more than 80 calories. If you are lighter or walk slower you may burn less. But, for the sake of this math we will equate 2,000 steps to 80 calories.
That means if NOTHING else changes…including eating habits…an additional 12,000 steps every day would equal ONE POUND for a total of 12 pounds three months later.
I don’t know if the idea of losing 12 pounds makes you giddy or feels like it barely scratches the surface. But, here’s what I do know. The idea of adding 12,000 steps a day instantly to your existing total should be a red flag.
Adding an EXTRA six miles a day is a HUGE increase. And, doing that every day for 12 weeks is incredibly difficult. But, let’s say you are super-human and make that work. Could you keep it going? Would you even want to?
When I finished my four week sprint with a step goal 50% higher and a nutrition plan that was a significant change I didn’t want to keep going. I couldn’t sustain it and those extra pounds returned. I had a good couple weeks at the beach, but what I had accomplished did not stick.
We often over estimate what we can accomplish in the short term, and way under estimate what we can accomplish in the long term.
My approach to fitness changed after that summer. I recognized this can’t be a series of sprints. Instead fitness is a marathon. Actually, an ultra-marathon. I needed goals that were sustainable for a long, long time.
After that vacation I returned to a more reasonable daily target. As my strength and endurance increased I gradually upped the goal and I didn’t slack off when the weather turned cold. Slowly momentum built and many years later remains strong. Today I get at least 20,000 steps every day.
We over estimate what we can accomplish in the short term…like three months. Our emotions take over and we feel like we can conquer the world. And, then our emotions fade and we’ve probably conquered nothing.
We under estimate what we can accomplish in the long term…like three to five years. That feels so far away and we want change now! But, there is great power in starting small and gradually increasing. We build habits and add momentum. After awhile, fitness becomes part of our lifestyle.
Let’s do some different math. Add 500 steps to what you’re currently walking. Make that your new goal for the next 90 days. That’s a gradual increase that is sustainable. At the end of 90 days, add another 500. Keep doing that every 90 days for five years. That’s 10,000 steps a day that has been slowly added. If you try doing that all at once it won’t last. Take your time and you have something that will last.
Oh…and after five years the math indicates enough extra calories burned to equal 105 pounds. Obviously, there are lots of healthy ways to lose 100 pounds in less than five years. That’s not the point. The point is to start a fitness journey today that becomes part of your lifestyle so the thought of summer doesn’t trigger an unsustainable sprint to get ready.
You can learn more about how to do this by clicking these links.
That’s how you get ready for summer. And, stay ready.
To help get you started I’ve created a list of 57 Ways to Get 1,000 Steps. There are hidden opportunities scattered throughout your day.
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You really can Win at Fitness! We’ll help you get there One Step at a Time