Level Up: How 10,000 Steps a Day Helped Josh Break Barriers

June 17, 2020, Post by Elyse Maxwell

How a 10,000 steps a day challenge changed everything for him, and his team.

When Josh started his weight loss journey at the beginning of 2020, he was at the heaviest weight in his personal history. Between pressure at work, relocating to Toronto, and exploring the inconveniently convenient cuisine of the downtown corridor, Josh didn’t feel like himself when January 1st rolled around. 

Josh hit his weight loss goals with a laser-like focus and determined intensity that are only fitting for the tech go-hard that he is. He joined a gym, got into yoga, and tracked every aspect of his lifestyle with meticulous and exhaustive detail. He recorded his steps, food, weight, alcohol consumption, workouts, and more.

All of this data culminated in an astounding 5,000 data point spreadsheet.

By the end of January, Josh had broken a meaningful personal benchmark, and he barrelled through another just 31 days later. 33 days after that, he annihilated one more major weight loss milestone. 

Then, Josh got stuck.  He hit the barrier feared by everyone on the weight-loss pilgrimage: the plateau. Josh was eating better than ever, completing arduous workouts a minimum of four times per week, and still, he didn’t see a shift in the scale. 

“I was being rigorous about hard exercise during COVID, but I hadn’t even lost a pound,” he shared. “Then 88 days in, we started the 10,000 step challenge. I lost 8 lbs in 12 days.”

Since starting the Wellbeings 10,000 step daily challenge, Josh felt he had unlocked the next gate in his weight loss journey – he’d finally leveled up.

“It was like I’d unlocked the next level of weight loss,” he said.

How Walking Stepped Things Up

Josh is the first person to remind everyone that weight is simply a metric, and not necessarily a direct indicator of health. What’s most important is how he feels, and since his overall fitness journey started, he’s experienced incredible mental, physical and emotional benefits. 

From stagger to swagger

Josh finds that, while his strength hasn’t necessarily changed while walking, his body is more accustomed to moving on a regular basis, rather than a short workout after a long day of sedentary work. Unlike intermittent intense activity that leaves his muscles sore and tight, to Josh, walking means a more well-rounded approach to exercise.

“We’re sitting for 23 and a half hours a day and doing a 30-minute workout once a day,” he observed. “If you do a HIIT movement once a day, it’s a shock to your body.”

And there’s evidence to support Josh’s theory that walking may be a better approach for overall health. According to a recent article on VeryWellFit.com, walking (1) puts less stress on the cardiorespiratory system (2) builds better endurance, and (3) improves your body’s use of fat, when compared to HIIT.

Never a pain in the neck

Since starting his fitness regime in January, even Josh’s muscles have adjusted, relieving him of ongoing discomfort in his upper body.

“Before, I was getting a massage once a week and doing yoga. I had chronic neck problems. And I mean chronic, if I slept wrong, my week was ruined. I was complaining like a 60-year-old.” For a guy in his mid-twenties, this was not an encouraging place to find himself.

Since becoming more active, his pain subsided and he’s able to do more of the activities he loves.

Becoming a ‘yes’ man

It takes roughly 100 minutes to complete 10,000 steps, and now that Josh is up and moving for extended periods throughout the day, he’s finding it mentally and physically easier to keep that active streak.

“It’s less of a burden to do everything when you’re already active. Just moving your feet. Just being mobile, feeling light. It’s helped me enjoy the summer. I’m playing golf and tennis, and if someone wants to play frisbee, I’m down.”

Striding Hand in Hand

No matter how much you love a chosen form of exercise, it takes tremendous motivation to keep at it day after day. According to Josh, this challenge has offered more value than just initiating a new habit – its structure and implementation have kept him motivated to move every day. Here are a few of the things that he thinks make this challenge particularly useful.

Keep it social 

“You will do what your friends and colleagues validate,” says Josh.

And he’s absolutely right! According to the theory of operant conditioning, a “way to go!” on Slack (positive reinforcement) increases the likelihood of a person repeating a behaviour by providing a rewarding consequence. The less time that elapses between a behavior and the reinforcement, the more effective the validation will be. So, when you upload your numbers and almost immediately get messages of support and recognition, you’re very likely to want to chase that thrill again. Who said highs were just for runners?

Have senior buy-in

“Culture trickles down. I only feel comfortable walking if I know my boss is doing it.”

The best way to persuade is by demonstrating, so having senior leadership take on this challenge with vigor allowed for fast and deep adoption, for Josh and across the team. Not only is the feeling of competitiveness contagious, but senior buy-in allows team members to feel secure in taking time away from their desks.

Empower team members to restructure meetings

“I had the choice to either work nine to five and then spend time with my family and my girlfriend, or walk. Because 100 minutes of walking is just too long to hold other people accountable to. But our partnership meetings are generally, “let’s talk through this partner”, so I’ve started taking that as a phone meeting.”

According to Josh, the key to taking meetings on the go is managing expectations upfront and making sure people (1) have all documents ahead of time to review and (2) understand that they’re accountable for doing so. That way, any meeting time can be done away from the computer and used for genuine collaboration. 

Final Thoughts

As remote work becomes more pervasive, so too will the concept of work-life integration. We no longer have the absolute boundaries of home and work. For Josh, one of the most remarkable things about this challenge was the opportunity to share this part of his life with his colleagues.

“[My fitness] is the first or second most important thing in my life right now, and I get to share this journey with the people I work with. It’s no longer about living in silos. I can have this conversation about something I’m proud of in a work setting.”

By launching this challenge, Josh was offered a welcoming opportunity to integrate his work and home identities and bring his authentic self to work in a brand new way.

And it looks like, given how things are going, that enhanced integration is something we’re all going to have to embrace in the long run.

Or, should we say, walk?

Want more inspiration? Check out Lisa’s story to learn how this team member walked more than 500,000 steps in three weeks!