What Counting Your Steps Will Teach You About the Value of Running

Many shoeprints in fresh snow

This is post #4 in a 6-part series I’m doing in a sponsored partnership with Garmin and Whole Foods. (Not to mention the 9th day in a row I’ve published a new post, which I think is pretty awesome.)

Before this year began, I had no idea how many steps I took each day. 4,000? 10,000? 20,000?

Honestly if I had to guess without doing any math, any of those could have been it.

Now, I’m really tuned in. At the end of the day, with a glance right before bed at my vívofit, I see my step count — a little daily score to tell me how I did.

Five digits, I’m happy. Any fewer, and I remind myself to move just a little more tomorrow.

Here’s the biggest takeaway for me, though: just how dramatically the length of my run each day affects my step count. It’s way more than I realized … and that makes me want to never go a week without running again.

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19 Great Reasons to Back Down

I don’t have time.
There’s too much conflicting information.
I can’t afford it.
The timing isn’t right.
I have a family to think of.
My spouse is unsupportive.
My body isn’t meant to do it.
Everything in moderation.
I wouldn’t know where to begin.
I’m too old.
I’m too young.
I’m not smart enough.
Nobody I know has done it before.
Surely it’s already been done.
People like me don’t do stuff like that.
I don’t have the right background.
In any other economy …
What would my friends/neighbors/boss/in-laws think?
If only I’d been brought up differently …

Fabulous excuses, all of them. They might even be true.

The thing is, there are so many good excuses out there that no matter what it is you’re thinking of doing, you’re guaranteed to find one that fits.

You have a choice, then. You can let that perfect excuse stop you (again). Or you can use it as the evidence what you’re about to do is worth it. That it matters.

Because really, if there’s no reason not to do it … is there any reason to do it?

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A Ridiculously Easy-to-Follow Roadmap for Building a New Habit

Most of the advice we read about habits is fairly general: start small, create accountability, have a reward system, etc.

All great advice. But why so vague?

Because people have lots of different habits they want to change, and general advice can (hopefully) be applied to any of them. People like Leo Babauta and James Clear have broad audiences for a reason.

Of course, the cost of such generality is that nobody gets a tailor-made plan for creating their specific habit. Which makes it easier to rationalize not starting at all. At least, not yet. (Though it’s quite possible that if you search Zen Habits or James’s blog for a specific habit, you might find it. Worth a shot.)

Here’s exactly what has worked for me

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The Most Important Habit to Start Today

So many of us, adults in particular, feel we can’t change anything.

It doesn’t take many failed attempts at change before we begin to doubt our ability, lose trust in ourselves.

This is where the “start small” advice draws its power. By making promises that are easy, ridiculously easy to keep (“I’ll run for 2 minutes,” for example), you start to taste success again. And in this way, day after day, you slowly rebuild that belief that simply says, “I keep the promises I make to myself”.

But where do you start? What habit should you change or create first?

I’ve heard (and had) plenty of ideas, mostly strategic. Like start with the easiest change first or change something that will free up time, so that you can use that time for other, new habits.

But I’ve come to believe that it shouldn’t be even this complicated. There’s a more important first habit to change, because it’s one of the most important habits you can change, period.

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My 7 Favorite Pasta Recipes (and How to Make them Vegan)

Cornice di pasta integrale

I’m here to come to the defense of pasta.

We’ve been conditioned to think of pasta dishes as inherently unhealthy. Carbo-loaders, sure, but beyond that? Junk. An indulgence, and nothing more.

But why? I’ll concede that wheat and most grains aren’t exactly bursting with nutrients per calorie. And if you have a gluten sensitivity, then certainly, you’ve got to use an alternative grain. But these days, that’s not hard.

Pasta, the protein source?

There’s a serious misconception out there: that pasta is “carbs” and nothing else.

Yes, it’s mostly carbohydrate. No fat, in most cases. But protein? Here’s the surprise.

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9 High-Energy Plant-Based Snacks for Athletes

Plant-based. Healthy. Snack. It’s a lot to ask of a food.

But we need them. One of the common questions that I hear from new vegetarians or vegans is “I’m always hungry — how do I stay full with this diet?” — and my answer is to eat more. Not bigger servings, but more often.

Why? Most whole, plant-based foods are not calorically dense. That means they take up a lot of room in your stomach, without packing a lot of calories.

Of course, that also means they digest quickly, so not long after eating one meal, you’re hungry for another.

Enter the snack.

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Why I’ve Started Running Every Day, Especially When I Don’t Feel Like It

I’m different from a lot of other runners, because running, for its own sake, doesn’t do it for me.

And I’ve been criticized for this, for trying to make the best of something that will always feel hard — instead of spending my time doing things that I naturally love, without having to work at loving them.

The obvious question, then, is why run at all? Why not spend that time on something else that, if pressed, I’d have to admit I’d “rather” be doing?

It’s not that I’m so goal-driven I just can’t help myself. Right now, I don’t even have a big running goal.

And it’s not because running affords me 30 minutes to listen to a podcast or be alone with my thoughts, unreachable by email or phone or any other means. That certainly makes it more enjoyable, but it’s not enough.

And finally, I don’t run for fitness, at least not the way I’m running now. My problem isn’t keeping weight off but keeping it on, and running only makes that harder.

So what’s the point?

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The No-Nonsense Guide to Eating Healthy and Vegan Without Going Broke

CerealFirst, let me just come out and say it. I wanted really badly to make a sense/cents pun in the title of this post.

But I resisted, for your sake. Because sense/cents jokes just might be the worst kind of joke in the world, and nobody should ever write or say them.

Next — and we’ll get to the good stuff soon, I promise — this is the third post in a series I’m doing in partnership with Whole Foods and Garmin. (And, unrelated, the first in a series of seven consecutive posts I’ll be doing this week, one each day!)

Okay, here comes healthy eating on the cheap. And don’t miss the giveaway at the end!

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