John Herzog

Towards a Healthier Lifestyle: One Step at a Time

A First Person Story
By John Herzog

Each time the respected professionals at the Heart Institute reminded me to walk at least half an hour a day, I committed to do so. Much to my embarrassment, the resolve evaporated, usually within weeks. There was always a good reason: the weather is too cold, too warm, too wet, I am tired, I don’t have the time. These were the standard excuses. Then Christmas 2014, Santa, who knows that I am a gadget guy who loves technology, gifted me with a Garmin Fit wrist wearable device. It displays the number of steps completed against the daily goal, the equivalent kilometers travelled, calories burned, and the time and date.

These are great features as I do not have a smartphone to show continuously my daily results. I do, however, upload my data to my computer at least once a week to get comprehensive reports that graphically present my daily, weekly, monthly, and annual steps taken against goals set, and even how well I have slept.

At first I had a mere cursory interest in the tabulations. Within weeks I found them more and more interesting. I got caught up in the challenge of meeting my goals daily and loathed missing any. If the weather was not conducive to walking outdoors, I hopped on my treadmill and watched a period of hockey on TV to meet my daily target steps. I would walk up and down the staircase in our home. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I walked just doing my chores such as mowing the lawn and other work around the house. I walked to the corner grocery or drug store rather take take the car. If I had to drive, I parked my car some distance from the entrance to the malls I visited. I came up with all kinds of approaches to maximize my daily “steps”.
Within a few months, I realized that walking was becoming habit. Technology changed my behaviour. I started to look forward to walking and sought opportunities to do so. Walking became even more enjoyable when my wife and I went together and chatted or just enjoyed nature in the park. As the steps, and indeed the hundreds of kilometers, started to accumulate, I visualized how I have just passed Toronto, then Sault Ste. Marie, followed by Thunder Bay and Winnipeg. In one year, I completed 4,000,000 steps equivalent to 2,800 kilometers. So I am sending you virtual greetings from beautiful Saskatoon. My new year’s resolution you ask? To walk back to Ottawa in 2016. Won’t you join me? It is easier than you think and a lot more fun.