Stepping it up

Time to Talk Day is an important day for Grant Thornton, encouraging people to talk about what they do to support their mental health. Here Jodie Promod, their Head of Communications talks about what she has been focusing on and the impact it’s had.

by | Oct 5, 2020 | 0 comments

Ihadn’t set out to set a resolution for 2020. It sort of happened by accident. My husband and I were playing around with our Garmin watches and realised that we could connect them and then challenge one another to see who could get the most steps in a day, a weekend or a week. Over the past month, I’ve increased my average daily steps from 3,000 to 11,000 and thought I would share how it’s affected my wellbeing.
My mindset changed
I wouldn’t call myself a ‘glass half empty’ sort of person; however, when you’re balancing a busy, full-time job and two young children – multi-tasking like a machine – being asked to do ‘just one more thing’ can sometimes push you to your tipping point. However, since I started walking, I’ve found that my resilience and ability to accept a new challenge, or willingness to add a few extra tasks to my personal or work ‘to do’ lists, has improved tremendously.
I started managing stress more effectively
My colleagues have often commented that I rarely look stressed. I can tell you though, that regardless of how I look, I FEEL the stress bubbling on the inside. What I’ve found since walking more is that I am more in control of my stress. First of all, fewer things ‘stress me out’. And when I do start feeling the pressure, I go for a quick walk as soon as I can, clear my head and come back to what I was doing. My watch also monitors my heart rate and very cleverly scores my stress, which I can view on an app. I’m not sure how accurate it is… but my stress score has progressively declined since I started moving more.
My sleep improved
I’ll be the first to tell you that I don’t get enough sleep. I like time to decompress after my children go to sleep, whether that’s talking to my husband without using a filter or watching something on the television that doesn’t involve a cartoon or YouTube toy review. I often fall into my bed near midnight. However, I was quite interested in how my watch tracked my light, REM and deep sleep. Again… I cannot comment on the accuracy of this feature, but I was fascinated to see that I averaged 1.5 hours of deep sleep (the rest being REM or light). On one particularly bad night (child waking up at 3am proclaiming: “It’s morning time!”), I had zero minutes of deep sleep. Over time though, with more activity, I’ve seen my deep sleep increase to 2.5 hours per night and I wake up feeling much more refreshed and energised, ready to start another day.
My back stopped hurting
I injured my back in 2011. Long story short… my best friend married a fireman and we decided to take wedding photos on his fire truck. When I jumped off the front of the fire truck, wearing my heels, I ended up with a bulging disc, which has been a constant source of pain ever since. This worsened when I had my son in 2015. For the first time in at least four years, since starting walking, I’ve been waking up every day with virtually no back pain.
I became more creative
I have better ideas since becoming more active. Maybe it’s because I’m better rested? Maybe it’s because I’m giving myself time and space to think? I’m not sure what’s the driving force behind it, but the quality of my thinking is better.
I started drinking more water
I’m slightly obsessed with Coca Cola Zero. Once my husband and I estimated what we spend on Coke Zero every year, and I’m ashamed to even tell you the figure… but it would have paid for a holiday. What I found since walking more is that I CRAVE water and am drinking a lot less caffeine.
I spend even more time with my family
My children noticed that we were ‘playing a game’ with our steps challenge and, naturally, they wanted to get involved. So we bought them junior versions of the Garmin watch and invited them to join the challenge too. Our 11-year-old is quite competitive and keeps close track of everyone’s progress. Our four-year-old just likes to see big numbers on his watch. He also loves the reward feature in the Garmin Vivofit Jr app where we can set him tasks, so he can earn coins towards a reward. He’s trying to earn 14 coins right now, which will entitle him to a new dinosaur toy so he is very serious about completing his daily ‘chores’ of toothbrushing and eating fruit with each meal.
I made my dog very happy
Ok… so this one really isn’t about my wellbeing, but my dog is SOOOO happy since I started walking more, since she is going on much longer, more frequent walks. Sometimes she gets double walks if I walk her when I get home and then my husband walks her again while I put the children to bed. Maybe it is helping my wellbeing too though, because I feel much less guilty about her being cooped up in our house while we’re at work during the day, as I know she is looking forward to our evening stroll.

Whether your budget is £10 or £500, there are many makes and models of fitness watches that can help you track your steps. We’re using Garmin because we weren’t ready to set the whole family up with Apple watches! Garmin has models for adults (some sporty with a digital face and some that look like ‘normal’ watches) and also a Vivofit range for children that have good parental controls


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