When people set a goal to lose weight it’s very common for them to vow to exercise every day to create a calorie deficit. One of the easiest and cheapest ways to exercise is walking which is why people turn to walking for weight loss.
While there is nothing wrong with exercising every day or walking every day, most people go about it the wrong way and end up being inconsistent or giving up altogether because it’s too hard.
In this blog, we’re going to show you how we and our members walked every day for 12 months without giving up, being overwhelmed, getting burned out or injured, and how you can do the same.
What we DIDN’T do
Before we explain what we did, it’s important to understand what we didn’t do.
We didn’t…rely on willpower or motivation
We never relied on willpower or motivation to walk. This is a key mistake that many people make. While willpower works for a while, it’s not sustainable which explains why many people fall off the wagon. Similarly, if we only walked when we were motivated, we would have stayed on the couch many times!
The key to losing weight is to develop habits that enable us to be consistent in the long term, rather than rely on willpower to be perfect for a short time because consistency trumps perfection. We explain this in detail in our blog Why 52 imperfect weeks is better than 6 perfect ones when it comes to weight loss.
We also recommend you read our blog Willpower versus habits to understand why habits are so powerful, and how developing the right ones can help you lose the weight for good.
We didn’t…aim for 10,000 steps
We never aimed for or walked 10,000 steps a day. There is a common belief that 10,000 steps are necessary for weight loss and that unless we walk that far, we’re wasting our time. But this isn’t true. Setting a goal of 10,000 steps a day is unrealistic for many reasons, and actually promotes the behaviours and mindsets that keep us overweight. We explain why in our blog Why a 10,000 steps a day challenge is bullshit and what to do instead.
We didn’t…go from 0 to 7
Another common mistake is doing too much too quickly. Often people who have never walked regularly before set an unrealistic goal to walk every day. In other words, go from zero walks a week to 7 walks a week. This never ends well and they usually give up. They either find it too overwhelming and stressful, sustain an injury (because they have done too much too quickly), or get annoyed when they miss a day, so throw the towel in because they can’t be perfect.
The truth is that our year of daily walks took 2 years in the making because it involved gradual progression. Through the DATS personal coaching system (DATS system) we started on 2 walks a week for 10 weeks. Once we nailed that, we increased it by one walk a week for the next 10 weeks. Every 10 weeks, we added in another walk for the week (provided we had kept the 10-week streak), until we had progressed to walking 7 days a week. Under this system, it took 50 weeks (almost a year) to progress from 2 walks a week to 6 walks a week.
Taking a progressive approach to walking, or doing any exercise program means that we are more likely to stick with it and be consistent. This is because the process doesn’t feel overwhelming or difficult, and we’re less likely to injure ourselves.
You can read more about this in our blog How to progress your home workout.
We didn’t…focus on walking
As counter-productive as it sounds we didn’t focus on walking each day. Instead, we focused on putting ourselves first.
You see, one of the reasons we struggle to be consistent with exercise is that we struggle to put ourselves first. Instead of prioritising our health and wellbeing and putting boundaries around our time, we use it to run around after other people, trying to keep them happy. This people-pleasing behaviour means that there is never enough time or energy left for ourselves.
But when we learn to put ourselves first without feeling guilty or worrying about what others think, we’ll have time to invest in the things that will help us lose weight.
So our focus was on putting ourselves first. We knew if we did that, then we’d always have time for our walks, and we wouldn’t have to try to fit them in around everything else that was going on in our lives.
What we DID do to walk every day for 12 months
We created a system
First and foremost, we created a system that enabled us to walk every day. And then we stuck to it.
You can read more about the importance of a system for weight loss in our blog Why a weight loss goal is bullshit without a weight loss system. But basically, a system is a way of doing something that follows processes and plans, so we can achieve a goal. Systems give us clarity around the things we need to do and in what order we need to do them.
At Imani Transformations we use the DATS system. This system clearly outlines what all our members need to do to make progress and achieve their results. It outlines how many walks they need to complete along with other tasks, which are in alignment with the stage of the weight loss journey they’re currently at.
Our system creates self-accountability. In other words, all our members know what they need to do and what the consequences are if they don’t do it. This avoids the need for excuses and helps our members learn the importance of taking responsibility for their actions and their results.
Our exclusive system also acts as an auto-regulating device. That means we can’t rush the process, pick and choose the things we want to do and avoid the habits and mindsets we need to work on. The system also prevents us from doing more than we’re ready for which prevents us from being overwhelmed. Our system highlights the exact habits and mindsets that are holding us back and ensures we work on them because there is no way to move forward until we do. Quite simply, there is nowhere to hide so progress is assured.
We addressed habits and mindsets
One of the biggest problems when it comes to weight loss is inconsistency. Most of us can be consistent for around 6 weeks but after that, the wheels fall off and old habits kick in. This is because we rely on willpower to be consistent. When willpower fades, our habits and mindsets take over, and this is why we become inconsistent.
Many of us believe we have a weight problem that can be solved by food and exercise using willpower and motivation. However, weight is just a reflection of the personal problems (habits, mindsets, beliefs, identity and fears) we carry. Trying to solve our weight problem by focusing on food and exercise is just like refilling a flat tyre with air over and over, without addressing the reason why the tyre is flat in the first place — a waste of time.
Unless we address the personal problems that have caused us to become overweight (i.e. our habits and mindsets) long-term weight loss is impossible. Those who struggle with their weight have at least one, but more likely a few, of the following habits:
- Low self-esteem and low self-worth
- Lack of confidence (aka imposter syndrome)
- Compare themselves with others
- Want to please everyone
- Put their needs behind other people’s
- Rely on alcohol to feel better
- Resentment of other people
- Worry about what others think
- Have a diet mindset
- Let fear dictate their actions
- Believe they’re entitled to certain things
- Want to control everything
By addressing the habits that prevented us from being consistent we were able to walk every day for 12 months, without feeling stressed, overwhelmed or burned out.
Focused on the daily actions
A common problem we often make when trying to lose weight is focusing on the end goal or setting a timeline for weight loss. However, focusing on the end goal actually sabotages your results. You can find out why in our blog Is your weight loss timeline sabotaging your success?
Instead of focusing on a goal of walking every day for 12 months (that’s 365 walks!), we focused on ticking off one walk a day. After all, one walk is easier to manage than 365. Before we knew it, we’d consistently walked for a whole year!
How you can walk every day for 12 months
Want to walk every day for 12 months (and beyond) too? Read how below.
Learn to put yourself first
For many of us putting ourselves first is hard. We may be afraid of being seen as selfish or might be worried about upsetting other people. However, if we truly want to be there for other people, we need to give them the best of us, not the rest of us.
Every time we go for a walk, we put ourselves first. Our members knew that even if the rest of the day was allocated to working, looking after their families, or dealing with crises if they walked in the morning, they at least did one thing for themselves.
To discover why you find it hard to prioritise yourself and what you can do about it, read our blog Why you struggle to put yourself first.
Ditch the diet mindset
Diets, weight loss and body transformation all have one thing in common — an end goal. And this end goal is driven by the diet mindset. You can read more about this in our blog What is the diet mindset and how does it affect your life.
Having an end goal means that you intend to stop doing something one day. When you come off the diet…when you lose the weight…when you’ve walked for a whole year…
But what happens after that?
You end up self-sabotaging and going back to your old habits, right?
However, when you ditch the diet mindset, your way of thinking shifts. Walking is no longer something you do to achieve a goal, it’s something you do because it’s a daily habit — just like brushing your teeth. The thing with healthy habits is that they often lead to more healthy habits. For example, if you walk first thing in the morning, you’re more likely to eat a healthy breakfast. If you eat a healthy breakfast, you’re going to feel more energised during the day. If you feel more energised, you’re less likely to reach for sugar-laden snacks to keep you going.
As we know, small habits can snowball into big results. To understand this concept, be sure to read our blog The snowball effect: Why small things add up to big weight loss.
Develop the identity of a walker
Our identity (the way we see ourselves) influences everything in our life, including our weight and what we do to lose weight. If we don’t have the identity of someone who walks, we’re going to struggle to walk every day. However, every time we go for a walk, we cast a vote for our future selves and reinforce our identity as a walker. Eventually, we will identify as someone who walks every day — rain, hail or shine — and then it becomes easy to walk every day for 12 months. To find out how your identity impacts you and how you can change it read our blog How your limiting beliefs and identity impacts your weight.
Forget 10,000 steps
If you want to walk every day for 12 months, you need to make sure your goal is achievable. Under the DATS System, our clients walk for a minimum of 30 minutes or 3km – whichever comes first. While they can walk slightly longer distances if they want to, we don’t encourage 10,000 steps a day, nor do we encourage them to do long walks every day. The most important thing is to be consistent with walking, rather than how long we walk.
Embrace all weather
You also need to embrace all kinds of weather. That means walking when it’s hot, when it’s cold, when it’s foggy and even when it’s raining. Too many of us use the weather as an excuse and only walk when it suits us. But we can’t change or control the weather, so learn to embrace it. If it’s cold, rug up with a jacket and beanie. If it’s going to be a hot day, walk in the early hours of the morning or the evening. And if it’s raining, grab your umbrella.
Get good walking shoes
Invest in a pair of good walking shoes. We don’t recommend any particular brand but you do need to make sure they fit your feet well and provide adequate support, particularly if you have old or existing injuries. If you do have problems with your feet, it may be worth visiting a podiatrist who can provide advice or orthotics to ensure you don’t sustain any further injuries. One of our clients continued to walk every day with a foot injury thanks to the expert advice and support of her podiatrist.
Spice up walks
Walking the same route day in and day out can be boring, so we recommend you spice up your walks with a bit of variety. Map out several routes around your neighbourhood and mix it up each day. Drive to another location such as a beach or national park and walk there. You can also walk at different times of the day.
You might also want to listen to something as you walk. It might be music or a podcast. All of our members use Audible and use their walk times to listen to books that will help them with their transformation journey.
Another idea is to take photos while you walk. When you walk for 12 months, you’ll experience different seasons and different colours. Capturing these in photographs can be a great way to document your progress.
How we help
At Imani Transformations, we are the world’s leading personal coaches in habits, mindset and holistic weight loss. We are the ones people come to when all the diets fail because we cut through all the noise of the diet and weight loss industry and give you solutions that work for long-term weight loss.
We help you develop lifetime habits and mindsets that will help you lose the weight for good and keep it off.
Our DATSTM Personal Coaching Program is a complete all-in-one habit, mindset and holistic weight loss personal coaching program that gives you everything you need (knowledge, systems, tools, skills, structure, accountability and support) to help you lose the weight for good so you can reclaim your freedom, vitality and quality of life.