Monday, March 9, 2015

Garmin Vivofit 1000000 Steps

Garmin Vivofit 1,000,000 Steps 

How to walk 1,000,000 Steps in Less than 6 months - Lessons Learned

The First Lesson is simple: You have to get up and walk. I have had peaks and valleys since I started wearing the Garmin Vivofit on 11/24, but stepping out of the front door is always a good step towards victory. 

Daily Chart of Steps
Notice the valleys about 2-3 after the 14000+ peaks
(Click on Chart for a larger version)

The Peaks: 

  • My longest streak for beating the target was 17 days in January, and my current daily average is 8949 steps per day (about 4.5 miles). At 1 million steps I will have walked 500 miles in under six months. 
  • Lesson #2 - If you hit your target early in the day, the rest is gravy. My biggest day was on a Boy Scout camp-over. I walked early in the morning to reach my goal, then spent the afternoon and evening hoofing around camp - running up an 18,000+ step day - or about 9 miles. 
  • Lesson #3 - Good shoes matter. I switch back and forth from running shoes to a midweight hiker. I can definitely tell the difference the next day. The hikers give better arch and ankle support, but I can feel the harsh "slapping" on the balls of my feet. The running shoes are very light, and provide a soft heel-strike. Good music matters too. 
  • Lesson #4 - My glucose scores have fallen as my step count has gone up, and they are in a tighter range. While I have not lost a lot of weight (a mere 5 pounds), my waist size has fallen from a 42 to a 38. And, I have a pair of 36" waist pants in the closet that I can squeeze into. 

The Valleys:

  • I'm trying to find a way to meet the "spirit" of the Vivofit. If the goal of the Red Status Bar indicator, for being idle, is to get me moving... it's not been a good match. My work schedule includes a lot of back-to-back one-hour meetings.  I tend to squeeze my steps into a long, single walk (3-4 miles in one fell swoop). 
  • I have not been able to figure out how to take a day of rest. That is not to say that I have not rested. In fact, after several of my biggest walking days there is generally a day where I just can't get to the target. 
  • Bad weather days (cold and rainy) are still a problem. I have gone to the YMCA a couple of times, but treadmills are still a mystery. The step count seems to match up, but the jarring and soreness seems much worse than walking outside. And, it doesn't appear that the pace reported by the treadmill (3.8 mph) is any better than my normal walking speed (about 1750 steps/per 15 minutes or ~3.5 mph). Again, the steps match, but the speed (and distance?) do not.   
  • I was out of action a couple of days in Jan and a couple in Feb - nothing big, but it cost a few thousand steps. And, I can report that I've had no injuries due to walking (just a bit of old-man soreness). Getting back on track was not as difficult as I would have expected. 

Daily Glucose Scores - The Proof is in the Score

My average daily Glucose score (dotted line) has fallen from 135 to under 120.
HbA1c from 7.3(H) in Oct 2014 to 6.6 in Jan 2015 to 6.2 in Feb 

I reached 800,000 steps on Feb 22, two days after I tested for an HBa1C of 6.2 - which is well inside the standard range of 4.0 to 6.8% While my doctor still has me on medication, I'm in a much better place. 

Click for Larger View

The chart above combines the blood glucose scores (blue line) with a 14 day trend line (green) compared to my daily steps (orange line, with steps divided by 100). My Glucose score should be below the top black line - 120, and my steps above the bottom black line 100 (*100=10,000). Notice that when the step count crashes, the glucose score spikes. 

I also track days where I miss my medication (metformin), which happen to coincide with days where I was out of action ("non-walk") days. My blood sugar score will spike if I miss a dose, so I'm not out of the woods (yet). But it seems clear that >8000 steps a day helps keep control. 
March 14... 1,000,000 Steps

Bottom Line

On March 14th, 110 days after I started wearing the Garmin Vivofit, I passed 1,000,000 steps. I still need to work on taking more steps throughout the day, and still need to figure out how to get steps in bad weather. 

It's a huge win! For the cost of a $90 Garmin Vivofit from Amazon I've been able to push my HbA1c score down, my waist size down, and my legs are very strong and shapely for the first time in a long time

Now, time to attack the scale and get into those 36" pants. 


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