1. I felt more relaxed
Most days, I am one big ball of mental chaos. In one way or another, most of us are. How can we not be with the hustle bustle of everyday? Even our weekends tend to be chaotic, playing catch up with all we couldn’t get to during the week. At first, walking 10,000 steps a day stressed me out before I even started. Another thing to add to my to-do list, I thought, and this would be a time consuming one. But with each passing day, I felt more relaxed. I was less agitated throughout the day. I didn’t despise everyone and everything as heavily in the morning. By the end of each evening, I was ready to sleep and I slept like a baby, sleeping stronger than I did for a while. And the strong sleep was consistent. After the second week of this challenge, I was resting so well despite this time consuming challenge that I was able to wake up more peacefully in the mornings without 10 alarms and my mother hounding down my throat about the time.
2. I felt more focused
Being plagued with chronic fatigue (a lovely symptom of endometriosis), energy is not my high point, especially in the morning. The fatigue would usually carry on throughout the day, and although coffee would keep me up and running, it would wear off quite quickly and there’s only so much coffee a girl could drink (being that caffeine is an inflammatory, I have had to cut back). The last thing that comes to mind when your mind and body are so exhausted is to get up and exercise in any shape or form.
When I began pushing myself to walk 10,000 steps every day, I noticed a surprising change. Exercising is a tiring activity to me, wouldn’t it be counterintuitive for it to energize me? Well, it did. The first few days, it tired me out greatly but I had not been to the gym for quite some time at that point so it was no surprise. By the second week, these walks put me in power mode. The more I pushed my body physically, the more power I got mentally. Starting my morning with a 30 minute walk woke me up incredibly and got me prepared for the day with full focus. I would finish my work day with the afternoon yawns coming in, but I would get so pumped for my upcoming long walk, there was a mental click and I got focused again. In the evening, I would push another walk to hit my step count if I didn’t hit it yet, and interestingly the evening walk put me in power mode again, but the type of power mode that begins to set you up for the next day. I’d get home focused to keep up an intricate night time skin care routine, get a good book, crawl into bed, and sleep.
3. My jeans felt less snug
I will not say that this is the secret weight loss trick we all look for. It is not. At least, not for me. By the end of the month, my jeans were definitely feeling better and I noticed my face got a little thinner. I checked the scale and was thrilled I had lost about 6 pounds that month. I say this is not the secret trick to weight loss because other factors were involved. Walking so much made me drink much more water than usual. On the average day, I’d be lucky if I’d drink more than one cup. The second day of this challenge, I was drinking at least 7 cups of water a day. It was great! The 10,000 daily steps combined with the water and better sleep habits definitely made a difference when buttoning up my jeans by the end of the month. Side note: weight loss should not be our only motivation for healthy exercise anyway.
4. My spirits were higher
I was sleeping better. I was feeling more relaxed. I was feeling more focused, determined, and energized. But above all, I was pushing my body physically every day, even on the days when I was having a bad pain day (thanks, endo!), I still pushed through the challenge even if it took longer because I had to stop repeatedly to rest. Amazing things happen to your spirits when you feel proud of yourself. And I did. I felt proud of my body. It was 11 months after I recovered from a summer of surgeries and I was getting my body and my mind back. This challenge helped me get there. I’m sure the new increased amount of being outdoors with tons of Vitamin D helped a great deal too!
5. I remembered the value of “me-time”
The daily hustle bustle is a fast-paced lifestyle in which we’re constantly all over the place overfilling every second in our day. At some point, we run out of fuel and continue to get by on reserve. Almost all of us crash eventually and aren’t even aware when we do. I know I wasn’t. Deep down, I knew I was exhausted and burnt out. But there was so much to do, people relying on me, tasks to finish, events to attend, and a calendar that would see a free hour and make me squeeze in anything I possibly could to be more ‘efficient’ with my day. That method is all a bunch of crap. None of us, no matter how tough, can continue running on reserve forever. We need to refuel to be efficient. We also need to refuel to stay sane. Everything can wait – your physical and mental health can’t. Walking allowed me to force myself to schedule me-time. I put in my headphones, grabbed an iced cappuccino, and would listen to my favourite tunes while breathing in fresh air. Sometimes I would summon a friend to walk with me or I would call my fiancé to chat while I walk. Little things can make a huge difference. One month after I finished this challenge, I got a car, which meant I didn’t do the 10,000 steps anymore. However, I held on to the ‘me-time’. I still took long walks if the weather was nice because I truly love it. I took on kickboxing (look out for that post soon). I scheduled reading time and cozy sweats and Netflix time. My car would stop running if I never filled up gas. We may not literally need fuel, but humans need to stop running just for a little bit in order to continue running.