At 12:11pm my Fitbit vibrated. I looked down in time to see the little animated bird flying through fireworks indicating I had reached my goal of 20,000 steps for the day. It also meant I had just crossed the finish line of this 20k One Year Step Challenge.
The Challenge was to reach at least 20,000 steps every day for a year with no breaks. It started on September 1, 2018 and ended just after noon on August 31, 2019.
Ava and I were in Corolla, on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I was walking on the beach when I hit 20,000 on the final day of this year long Challenge.
This was not the plan. That’s not where I expected to be when I finished this thing.
This past year has been difficult, especially for my wife. She found a lump two days before I publicly announced the 20k One Year Step Challenge. She waited four days to tell me because she didn’t want me worried. When I found out I thought about ending the Challenge before it even started.
Ava’s first scan was the day she told me. The lump did not look harmless. What followed was more tests, four biopsies, one surgery, 21 radiation treatments and lots of doctor’s appointments in between.
While, I didn’t expect a cancer journey when I originally considered this 20k Challenge, I did expect difficulties. I knew there would be some 15 hour days at work during our two week-long fundraisers. I also expected days when I wouldn’t feel great or the weather wasn’t great. Those were expected.
Assuming, I didn’t get sick or injured along the way, I expected to cross the finish line of this Challenge at home…maybe cutting grass since August 31 fell on a Saturday. That would be appropriate, I thought.
In June, Ava and I went on vacation to the Outer Banks. We both needed a break, but it was not to be.
Several months earlier, Ava’s mom was also diagnosed with cancer. While we were on vacation Ava was on the phone several times a day arranging care and making decisions for her mom. We left the vacation early because her mom’s condition declined pretty fast. We did not expect that.
As we were driving away, we decided to try a second vacation, if possible, later in the summer. Ava’s mom died five days after we got home and so we scheduled that second beach vacation in late August…a vacation that would end on August 31.
That meant I’d finish this 20k Challenge on the day we drove home from North Carolina. Six hours in the car makes getting 20,000 steps more challenging, but not impossible. I’d have to be even more intentional about getting all those steps. I was getting pretty good at that, so this new ending felt even more appropriate than reaching the finish line while cutting grass.
That all changed on August 28.
In the middle of our second vacation we were given the opportunity to extend our beach week an extra two days. We jumped on that! Can I tell you how much the vacation dynamic changed instantly? Instead of having only two full days remaining, we now had four. It was glorious!
And, instead of figuring out how to walk a lot on a day we would be in the car for six hours I now had a wide open day to reach the end of this 20k One Year Step Challenge walking on the beach…my happy place.
And, that’s where the Challenge ended…on a warm day in Corolla under a clear blue sky and light breeze. Not how I expected to cross the finish line, but perfectly appropriate.
Now that the 20k One Year Step Challenge is over people are asking, “What’s next?” They actually started asking months ago. Even Ava asked.
Goal: 20,000 Steps was never my first choice of the name for this blog. But, it matched the 20K Challenge and so I decided to go with it. But, there are two significant problems with this name.
- It was NEVER my intention to suggest 20,000 steps should be everybody’s goal. This was my goal. The name makes it feel like 20k should be your goal too. It shouldn’t. Your goal should be carefully considered and uniquely yours. Your goal should also be dynamic…changing as you grow and the seasons of your life shift.
- Even worse…the word ONLY kept appearing in the comments and emails I received from readers. As in…”my goal is ONLY 7,000 steps a day, or ONLY 9,000 steps a day. It saddened me that my goal of 20k made anyone feel like their goal wasn’t worthy. That’s so NOT TRUE. We are all at different places on this fitness journey and if you have a goal…no matter the number…it’s a worthy pursuit. I’m so sorry if my goal made yours feel “less than”.
So what’s next?
Starting next week, this blog will have a new name…a better name. You’re the real hero of your fitness journey and the new name will reflect that.
If your interest has only been my year long 20k Challenge, thank you for reading and for your encouragement.
If this weekly blog has been helping you with your fitness journey, I invite you to keep reading. While the name will be changing, the content won’t. You’ll still get stories, motivation, and practical suggestions to help you Win at Fitness one step at a time. Walking really is THE BEST sustainable fitness activity you can choose. I want this blog to remain an encouragement for you!
If you’re reading this blog for the first time and want encouragement and suggestions on how walking can transform your fitness journey I invite you to follow along. Just click FOLLOW (below if you’re reading on your phone…to the right and above if on a computer) and you’ll get an email as soon as each new weekly article is published. You can also check out the archive of over 100 articles HERE.
I’m not dumb. I know when folks ask, “What’s next?” they aren’t wondering about the blog. They want to know what I will do now that the 20k Challenge is over.
When my Fitbit vibrated at 12:11p on August 31 I stopped. I slowly spun around taking in the beauty of where I was and offered a prayer of thanks. I’m grateful to God for the opportunity and good health to reach my goal every day for a full year. I also thanked Him for those who were motivated to start their own fitness journey along the way.
I savored the moment then turned around and walked back to my beach chair. I sat down and watched the waves gently rolling in. I enjoyed the pelicans and seagulls flying by. I wondered what country was beyond the horizon. Where would I land if got in a boat and sailed in a straight line?
But, again, I’m not dumb. That’s also not what Ava and everyone else who asked the question, “What’s next?” wanted to know. They want to know what’s my next goal?
Is that also what you want to know? I’m truly humbled if that matters to you. What is my next goal?
I think you’ve already seen that movie. That’ll get boring really fast, if it isn’t already. The far more interesting question is…
…what’s YOUR next goal?
If you struggle with motivation to stick with fitness this blog will help. Every week you’ll get a new article with stories, motivation and practical suggestions to help you start a fitness journey that builds momentum and never stops. If you click FOLLOW (below on your phone and to the right and above on your computer) you’ll get an email with a link to each motivating article the moment it’s published.
Great accomplishment Dave! You are an incredible inspiration to myself and many, a man of character. I am proud of you!
Thank you Mark!
Congratulations Dave!! And thank you SO MUCH for the inspiration. I’m on my own fitness path now as well, thanks in large part to you, your stories on Shine, and this blog. You are a blessing in my life!
Thank you Kevin!
In the spring of 1992, you, Ava, Christopher and Gracie (still in development) came here for a 3-day visit. Ava was feeling queasy for a good part of the time, so it wasn’t such a fun trip for her.
During the visit, you asked if you could use my relatively abandoned bicycle to get in some exercise each day. No problem. Enjoy!
About three years later after a physical exam where my doctor politely informed me that I was fat, my blood pressure was too high, and my cholesterol way out of whack, he offered two options:
Either I begin a 5-6 day aerobic exercise program or he’d need to put me on medication.
Talk about a wake-up call! I hate medication, so option 1 was my only choice.
But what to do… what to do…?
I had to admit to myself that though my “go to” exercise activity over the years had been jogging, I really hated it. (Sorry Ava.) Just tedious and boring. And tough on the knees. (And did I mention tedious and boring?)
Eventually I thought back to 1992 and your request to use my bike. Decided to give that a try. And doggone if the ride wasn’t rather refreshing. Especially when you’re motivated. (No medication. No medication!) Lots more interesting scenery than jogging. Cool wind in the face going downhill. Can even glide downhill after climbing steep roads.
Eventually E convinced me to start wearing a helmet, even though I initially felt pretty dorky wearing it. (Didn’t feel so dorky, though, a few years later when I had to do a quick stop, flipped over my handle bars, and landed on my head. Without the helmet, I think my skull would have been splattered on the street.)
In large part through the biking – and eating refinement – I eventually lost over 60 lbs. and have maintained it for years. Which is actually the harder part than losing it in the first place. The doctor likes my weight, blood pressure and cholesterol now.
Biking has been my mainstay now for years. Actually decades. During two of those years, I even biked every day, including through the winter. Just to have accomplished it! The lowest temperature I ever biked in (15 miles/ day) was 9 degrees. I bundled up each day, but it was brutal nonetheless. Returned home most days a popsicle. Face, ears, fingers, toes, inner thighs all numb.
So today about 24 years later, I’m on the brink of my own accomplishment. That is, having biked far enough during those years to have circled the entire earth around the equator. Twice. Weather permitting, I should hit that target by mid-October. And like you, reaching this goal will be while at the beach.
So a big point of all this is that, unbeknownst to you, it was actually you who inspired me to begin the biking trek. And I’ve always appreciated that. Just never occur to me that it was worth mentioning to you until now.
Congrats again on your own health journey. It doesn’t get easier as we age, so keep up the great work in one form or another. We want to avoid becoming like former professional athletes with healthy bodies while they play who then turn into blimps after retirement. 😉
I love this story Mike! Thank you. Ironically, while at the beach we also rented bikes and I enjoyed some nice rides around the Outer Banks. Yes, aging is not easy…but, it’s much better when you’ve got some fitness momentum! Congrats on your awesome goal!