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My 100 Day Challenge

Back in April, April 3rd to be exact, I started a 100 day challenge or #100daychallenge. I was inspired by Miss Freddy on Instagram who started one on April 1st for her business. She posted continuously, on a theme for 100 days for her photography business. You can find her here. Well that simple idea inspired me to do something, but very different.

With all my knee troubles and other health issues, other than physical therapy, I have gotten out of the habit of daily exercise. Not exercising daily just compounds my physical problems. I know, no lecture needed. So I decided I would do a #100daychallenge to walk daily. They say it takes 3 weeks to make or break a habit. I think you need at least 6 weeks to make it a permanent change. Maybe more. So I did it. And I added one more.

I am not, nor have I ever been, a morning person. When I worked a 9-5 type job, every day was a struggle. Whether its nature or nurture, I am not sure. But there have been many late night owls in my family. I have always wanted to change that. So I set a permanent alarm for 9:00 am. Before you gasp and ask what time DO YOU GET UP? That is between me and my pillow! The sleep thing got worse when my knee completely fell apart and then recovering from surgery. It was now or never to try to make the change. Ideally I would love to be up at 7:30 or 8 am. Believe me, I have tried. And will keep trying. My biorhythms just don't want to cooperate.

The following is what happened:

My #100daystepchallenge proved to be quite interesting. I had to start wearing my Apple Watch again. I do normally wear it, but now I really needed to make sure it was on every day. My goal for the 100 days was to walk 2000 steps daily. Coming from where I had been for 4 years, with a few exceptions, that was a a lot of steps! The first week I worked really hard to achieve 2000 steps in a day. I often had to walk in the house for 5-10 minutes to get to my goal. My knees were cranky nightly. I was tired early (a good thing for goal two!). After my first 2000 step day I tried 2 pound weights in each hand. Boy, I was not ready for that, like at all. I lasted about 2 minutes before my entire body said, cool it babe, work up to it. I never did go back to the weights, but that is another issue entirely.

Within two weeks I was easily hitting 2000 steps a day. I thought, I will add 1000 steps each week until I hit 5000 steps and be happy with that. For where I have come from physically (search on my site for knee and you can ready some of my history) 5000 steps sounded fantastic! My surgeon and physical therapist would be thrilled to hear me moving that much.

Two more weeks passed and I was easley hitting 4000 steps a day. I kept saying to my husband, pinch me. I never thought this would be possible again. I was willing to shop big box stores just to do something different to achieve my steps. I had some days where I would just hit 4000 steps, just with daily life and some days I had to walk inside the house. My walking pace in the house is fast enough I can still just talk, but not too much. It was about a mile every 10-12 minutes by my guess. Not leisurely, not running, but somewhere nearing a run. I have to be careful not to pound on my knees. Plus I have no ambition to be a marathoner, and my surgeon would probably have me arrested if I did. (smile)

In the end I averaged around 5500 steps a day with little repercussions. If I went over 6000 steps too many days in a row, my body protested in all sorts of manners. I found my sweet spot for now. I have aims to hit 10,000 steps a day eventually. I truly would love to achieve that. It is possible. But could take up to a year to achieve that.

One thing I did happily learn, my body, as beat up as it had been, did respond well to exercise. It sounds silly but I was truly concerned that it may protest and have a reverse effect. It had happened to me in the past. And there was one repercussion in all of this. But only one.

I learned a new body part in all this. We all have something called an IT band in our thighs. The IT band runs along the outside of the quad muscle from hip to knee and under your patella (knee cap). Mine got super tight. As in, I could barely bend my left knee, to 40 degrees. Trying getting in and out of chairs and cars and off toilets with knees that do not bend. It is physically impossible. My mantra for the last several years "the world it just not set up for people with knees that bend less than 90 degrees". Pay attention throughout your day and you will see how right I am.

Now that I know the name for the body part, IT band, I understand how long it has been tight. Mine likely got tighter to keep me upright when my knee joint was failing me. Something needed to stabilize me. I found this all out when I started going for regular massages and had a substitute masseuse when mine was on vacation. This guy is a fount of knowledge. He as been a personal trainer, now a masseuse, working toward a physical therapist, and looked into chiropractic care. He is the one that spotted my IT band problem. Which in turn I was able to help a friend identify hers and get hers treated. I will seek further treatment on mine later this year. Currently I am in physical therapy for 2 different body parts, somewhat related to my knee issues. Will be covered in a different post.

So masseuse started working on getting that IT band loosened up. I go every 2 weeks for stretch sessions with him as part of my massage plan. It really is making a difference. No kidding. Thank you Massage Envy, cooperate giant that you are, for having the services and some of the staff you have. There have been some amazing changes in my body.

Anyway, masseuse advised me to cool it on the walking for a few days, or cut back on the number of daily steps. I did. It did lead, when my knees, especially my left one named Heisenberg, got so angry I could barely move, again... So I cooled my jets. And about that habit thing. I got off course because of all this. I was truly enjoying my daily walking. I am still afraid to walk outside because of rocks and uneven terrain still scare the bejeebers out of me. I am more stable than I was a year ago, but I am still do not have that much strength and stability to be able to handle too much uneven terrain. I have to walk with my head down watching every step outside. I like walking face forward. It is just my personality. My personality and how I have to walk do not match right now. Does yours?

So I ended my #100daychallenge of walking with a lot of information. I can do it, walk daily. I have a hard limit of 6000 steps right now. And I am okay with it. It is far greater than the surgeon ever imagined (2000 steps). And beyond my 5000 step goal. I know with persistence I can hit the 10,000 steps a day, or maybe just a few days a week, is something achievable, but that is going to take more than a short 100 days. A year might be more reasonable.

On the days my IT band is tight and angry, I miss my 5000 steps but know that I cannot push beyond the tightness because it cannot relax on its own and takes a lot and quite a few days to calm it down. I have still made some huge changes in my life for the better. Any change in the right direction is a positive change. And I inspired a few friends to hit at least 5000 steps too.

Bonus story at the bottom.

As for my other #100daychallenge, on waking up by 9:00. It didn't become a habit. I am very close to that, but I am waking a lot earlier. My alarm still goes off at 9:00 am. Some days I hit snooze a few times (okay, for an hour), some days it just isn't realistic. I have so many things inhibiting decent sleep for me (all physical problems) that it takes more than 8 hours to get 8 hours of sleep. Sad, but a real hard truth for many people. Don't beat yourself up over it. Just accept it and try and do what you can to change it.

I am continuing to work toward an earlier waking time. Maybe when my son goes off to college and the house gets quiet really early at night that that might help go to bed earlier. Or maybe I am fighting some genetic component. For sure, it has a nurture learned component. Even when I was in grade school I really didn't have a bedtime. I would get to stay up to see Johnny Carsons monologue and then naturally fall asleep. Not cool for a grade schooler.

I hope this encourages you to try a #100daychallenge to make a positive change in your life. I have more than met my initial goals and didn't quite make my overall goal. But I made a change for the better, no matter how you look at it. I will continue working toward my 8:00 wake time and 10,000 steps, but there is no way I can achieve that in such a short time. My body just isn't capable of such a dramatic change in a short time frame. As the modern generation calls it #squadgoals.

Thanks to Casey (Miss Freddy) for in her own small way, to inspire me to make a big change in my life. You never know who you influence or in what way.

Bonus Story

So this is my point of pride in al of this, and is the reason I think I can achieve a consistent 10,000 steps a day lifestyle. This happened 3 1/2 weeks into my challenge. And actually my watch didn't track it well. It did hit over 10,000 steps but just as the day changed at midnight. I worked my ass off for this moment. I was having a good physical day. As they say "make hay while the sun is shining". I did! Boy I paid for this for 3 days, having to cut back to around 3000 steps for a few days, but worth it just to see if I could do it, like ever. This day gives me hope for a more active future. Years ago, they said 5000 steps for a healthy lifestyle. I still believe for an average person that is a good goal. Yes, if you truly want to be healthy 10,000 steps is recommended. But I do not think for the average American this is currently an achievable goal. It takes time. It takes time to work up to that amount. Most people do not have nor want to be that active. In a perfect world it is a fine goal.

For me at this moment, it is just not realistic. I had one shining glorious day. My husband, who does walk daily, and hits 7-10,000 steps daily, he tried really hard to surpass me that day and couldn't. I call it my glimmer to the future.

One of the reasons I am working toward this goal is being able to do things like state fairs and theme parks without renting a mobility scooter. I still have to do it. I still take my rollator (walked with a built in chair) on long days. Some times I just need to sit and finding a place to sit that I can get in and out of can be a challenge. I need slightly higher seating and park benches and such a lower to the ground.

Again, I need to make another post on some recent physical problems that have come up and affected all that has been mentioned above.

I still bask on that rare day in April, early on in my #100daychallenge and achieving 10,000 steps. My head nearly exploding with pride in my body.

Thanks for reading my bonus story. I thought it more fitting as a bonus because it was a one time occurrence that really wasn't that relevant to my main challenge. Stay tuned for more on my stories to achieve a healthier life!




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