Why Did I Walk 20,000 Steps Every Day For a Year?

This one was different.  It was a message from Kathy who had recently started reading the blog. She wrote, “As I start moving, I have started feeling better. It may be a low-grade endorphin effect, but just moving and having an achievable goal helps me.” I had only been writing the blog a few months when Kathy sent this.

Ever since college I’ve had a desire to create something that I enjoy doing and can also provide a small stream of income. For years I had a single panel cartoon that I sold to weekly newspapers. It was fun, but a lot of work…and a VERY SMALL stream of income. Eventually, life got too busy to sustain the amount of effort needed for too small a reward.

As our children have grown and moved on and my schedule loosened, I reconnected with that desire to create something. The world of blogs and podcasting offer lot of opportunities so I started thinking in that direction. But, what could I write about?

I had an idea that I pondered for about a year, but it never felt right. The appeal was limited and my perspective was not unique so I set it aside. It was important for me to do something I was interested in, but could also help people…maybe even be transformational for some.

Ironically, I was walking and thinking about all this when I got an idea. I knew a lot of people who wore Fitbits, but were always disappointed by how they couldn’t get more steps. Well, I thought, I know a little something about that.

My original idea was a daily 10-minute podcast that you could listen to as you were out walking. This might inspire people to set and reach their goal. I recorded a bunch of sample episodes. It just felt dumb. At the same time I was also writing some sample blog posts. That felt better.

Kathy stumbled upon my article about the best way to start walking for fitness. So many fitness journeys get derailed because they are driven by emotion and start way TOO BIG. It’s far better to start small. Kathy read that post (HERE) and it resonated with her.

Kathy said there was no way she could reach a goal of 10,000 daily steps. She wrote, “That kind of a goal would only make me feel like a failure and the there was no way I could add that to the load I was already carrying.”

Kathy said the goal setting strategy I suggested in my article was something she thought she could do. She told me, “I got off the sofa, dug my Fitbit out of the bottom of a drawer, plugged it in and charged it. The next day I started tracking my steps as you outlined for the first week and then set my step goal.”

Even after I decided to do this blog, I struggled with thinking how silly it is to write an article every week about walking. Seriously? Who would really be interested in that? But, I kept circling back to my own passion for walking as a great activity for fitness and the frustration so many feel when that Fitbit total feels too low.

About a month before the blog was launched I got an idea for the 20k One Year Step Challenge. I felt like I needed a way to demonstrate how you could walk for fitness by setting a challenging daily step goal and still have a life. In fact, I believe life is better because of it.

It was NOT a slam-dunk decision. Could I reach 20,000 steps every day for a year? I knew there would be hard days. Could I navigate through those? What about the unknown? And, what if I failed? What would that demonstrate?

I struggled with the idea, and realized I simply wouldn’t know the answers until I did it. If nothing else, it gave me the name for the blog. The challenge began on September 1, 2018 and I crossed the finish line on August 31. You can check out a day by day track of the Challenge HERE.

There was also another appeal to this 20k Challenge. I believe in the value of doing hard things. To be clear…I love easy and would pick it every time, but that’s not where growth happens. We grow in the hard places of life. And, so if this 20k One Year Step Challenge also demonstrated doing a hard thing I was OK with that.

And, then I got Kathy’s message. This one was different. I thought I was demonstrating hard. My 20k Challenge was not even close to Kathy’s challenge. And, it had nothing to do with step counts.

Last spring Kathy and her husband were on a cruise. It was the last day when they got the worst possible news. Their 24 year old son had died.

She says after the chaos of those first few days back home the grief really settled in. Kathy says it was heavy, dark, and unforgiving.

She wrote, “Before this happened to me, I was among the fortunate few who viewed parents (including some of my own extended family) with awe who had lost children. I had no idea how a parent could possibly carry on after the death of a child.”

Even as Kathy was telling me this she says, “I still feel the same way today. I still don’t know how people carry on after the death of a child — and I am in the middle of it!”

Kathy says as much as she tried to recalibrate, carry on, and find her new “normal” the grief kept dragging her back to a place of inertia. “I have essentially been sitting on the sofa since last spring trying to figure out what happened to my otherwise charmed life, trying to figure out how to restart.”

That’s when she saw the blog post about starting small. Kathy told me, “Your goal setting strategy was something I thought I could do. I got off the sofa, dug my Fitbit out of the bottom of a drawer, plugged it in and charged it. The next day I started.”

Kathy sent me this message in February. A couple weeks ago, when I asked for permission to tell her story, she also sent me an update.

“I continue to be sideswiped every once in a while and wonder how I ended up here. My experience is this burden that I now carry does not get easier. But, I continue to figure out how to carry it so that it doesn’t crush me. The one monumental step forward that I made was last February when I dug the Fitbit out of that drawer.”

Kathy inspires me to keep going.

I hope she inspires you to keep going too.


If you struggle with making fitness stick you can change that today. The 30 Day Fitness Challenge will help you begin building a fitness habit that creates fitness momentum which eventually leads to fitness transformation.

Walking is fitness hiding in plain sight. The 30 Day Fitness Challenge will help you set the perfect Fitbit goal for you. The Challenge includes a contract you can make with yourself. That might sound cheesy, but having a signed piece of paper is a powerful motivator on those days when you just don’t feel like it.

Every day you reach your Fitbit goal is a win. The 30 Day Fitness Challenge includes a Win Tracker to celebrate your progress every day!

Best of all…The 30 Day Fitness Challenge is free!!

If you don’t have a Fitbit I recommend the Fitbit Inspire HR. This is the Fitbit I use to track my 20,000 steps a day. The Inspire HR also tracks your heart rate and sleep so you get an even wider picture of your fitness progress.


(By the way…if you use the link above to but a Fitbit Inspire HR this blog will receive a small commission. It won’t add anything to what you pay, but letting you know is the right thing to do)

Lastly, this blog is designed to help you embrace walking as a fitness activity. It’s sustainable, flexible, effective, and fun. Every week I post new articles with stories and helpful suggestions to Win at Fitness.

If you click FOLLOW (below on your phone…to the right and above on your computer) you’ll receive an email with a link to each new blog post.



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