fitbit screenWelcome to our healthy lifestyle challenge lead by our program dietitian Vicki Bovee and her husband, Bill. Because we can always do better to live a healthier lifestyle Vicki and Bill decided to work on a weekly challenge together to provide support and accountability for each other and hopefully inspire you to make healthy changes. Follow along with them as they tackle a variety of challenges to eat better, eat more mindfully, and improve physical health and emotional well-being. Vicki and Bill invite you to participate and accept the challenges to improve your lifestyle too. Some of them may be difficult and please feel free to modify the challenges to accommodate your dietary needs and physical abilities.

Challenge #34 10,000 steps a day
I have been wearing a pedometer since about 1996. That’s a long time. Of course it hasn’t been the same pedometer. I lost count of how many I have had over those 19 years. When my last one died in October I moved up to a fitbit flex fitness tracker. I got Bill started on a pedometer several years ago but he wasn’t as vigilant as I have been about wearing it daily. I have always found that wearing a step tracker is very motivating for me to move more and I hear that from patients too. We are a nation suffering from sitting disease which in turn increases the risks of developing chronic diseases. The goal of 10,000 steps a day is a health goal and not necessarily a weight loss goal. You can lose weight with 10,000 steps a day if you pair it with reducing calories.

Where did this goal come from? Interesting it wasn’t devised by the government. It actually came from Japanese walking clubs and was not based on medical research. It has shown to be a critical part of weight maintenance based on the thousands of people who are keeping weight off and are tracked by the National Weight Control Registry.

I found varying numbers for the average steps per day Americans log. The low was 3,000 up to 6,000. If you seldom leave the house you are probably under 3,000 steps a day. Unless you work at a job where you are walking all day (like warehouse workers, food servers, and floor nurses) you are not getting 10,000 steps a day without deliberate effort.

Here’s how the numbers break down.
• About 2,000 steps = 1 mile
• 1 mile = about 100 calories

• Less than 5,000 steps daily is sedentary
• 5,000 – ,7500 steps daily is low activity
• 7,500 – 10,000 steps daily is somewhat active
• More than 10,000 steps daily is active

We both keep a record of our steps and I can look back and see how many steps I averaged a day for each month since 2011. I averaged over 10,000 steps per day 58% of the months and my lowest month I averaged 8,600 steps ( that was in winter when I was living in Canada). I have days where I am over 14,000 but then there is a day where I don’t get my walk in and I’m not close. Since I sit in my office or in an exam room most of my work day, there is no way for me to reach the goal without taking a walk. And even that 30 minutes won’t guarantee I hit the mark.

Since the goal was 10,000 steps PER DAY Bill was disappointed when I told him there was no carryover. This isn’t your roll over data plan. We did meet the goal every day but we had to work at it. For Bill it meant going to the gym six days. I added another 5 to 10 minutes to my 30 minute walk as “insurance”. Saturday was our high step day. We went to the gym and then while I was at my hair appointment Bill went back to the gym and did double duty on the bike. Since the weather was so nice we took a walking tour of Midtown in the afternoon. We ended our day tired out with Bill at 17,200 steps and myself at 13,675. On Sunday we skipped the gym and took a long walk in the neighborhood and over to the farmers’ market to buy eggs.

Vicki’s observations:
• Even with my daily walk I had to get up at work and move. If I walk a loop from my office, out the far back door, up and down the hall, and back to my office I get 310 steps.
• I checked my steps before dinner. If I thought I might not reach my goal I spent more time walking around the house.
• I go to Tai Chi and while we are waiting for class to start we usually stand around and visit. Not anymore. I walk laps around the room (75 steps per lap) and now have my friend and Tai Chi instructor, Dave, walking laps with me. He’s always over 10,000 steps and he tells me that’s because he looks for ways to get in more steps.
• At the end of week I averaged 11,465 steps per day. My fitbit recorded an average of 40 active minutes per day. Not bad for working a mostly desk job.
• I have arthritis with pain in my hips and knees. I was taking precription medication for it, but I got off of it with regular walking. I do have discomfort when I walk but if I don’t walk, I have pain. I’d rather walk with discomfort than take an anti inflammatory every day.
• I did meet the goal but it did require planning and extra effort to make it happen. It wasn’t that difficult because I already have my walk programmed into my life and during the day I look for the path of most resistance to get in more steps.

Bill’s observations:
• This was a challenge I did not want to fail at. I recently purchased a Garmin Vivofit fitness band. It is like a watch and shows your steps as you are walking. I don’t like Vicki’s fitbit because she has go to her phone or computer to see the number of her steps.
• I think anyone who wants to keep track of their steps should wear a fitness band. It really helps to keep you focused and on track. If you don’t have proof you can’t say, “I think I got my 10,000 steps today.”
• It was mandatory for me to go to the gym each day and ride the bike if I was to get in my 10,000 steps. I work from home and sit in front of my computer or I’m on the phone most of the time.
• I averaged 12,964 per day this week. I am disappointed that I didn’t check and see that I was so close to 13,000 steps per day average.
• It will be interesting now that the challenge is over. I am bent on getting 10,000 steps a day now and I will really have to plan my day around this goal.

You may not be able to walk 10,000 steps a day and your goal should be just to walk more. Start where you can whether it is 2,000 steps a day or 6,000. The goal is to add 500 steps a day, a week at a time, until you reach your goal. Your goal may not be 10,000 steps. What is important is that you get up and move. And if you are already hitting 10,000 steps without too much trouble, you can up the ante and set your goal higher.

35/350 is the buzz for next week. And this one worked for us!

Eat Smarter…
Vicki Bovee, MS, RDN, LD

Want to catch up on what you’ve missed?

The road to success is always under construction
Challenge #1 Eat everything sitting down.
Challenge #2 Eliminate cheese as an ingredient.
Challenge #3 Walk sideways in your home.
Challenge #4 Include a fresh herb in your daily meal plan.
Challenge #5 If there is food in your mouth there should be nothing in your hand.
Challenge #6 Eat the MyPlate recommendations for fruits and vegetables.
Challenge #7  Stand (and walk if possible) while talking on the phone.
Challenge # 8 Don’t eat out of the package. Put your food on a plate or in a bowl.
Challenge # 9 Keep a food record.
Challenge # 10 Power down while eating.
Challenge # 11 Eating to reduce inflammation.
Challenge # 12 Eating to help our environment.
Challenge # 13 Switch it up.
Challenge # 14 The road to success is still under construction.
Challenge # 15 Little bites.
Challenge # 16 Drink your water.
Challenge # 17 Count your chews.
Challenge # 18 The 100 Bite Diet.
Challenge # 19 Start your day right.
Challenge # 20 Holiday moves.
Challenge # 21 Limit TV time.
Challenge # 22 The Paleo Diet: Eat Like a Caveman.
Challenge # 23 Sweet dreams.
Challenge # 24 What color is your plate?
Challenge # 25 Six month reflections
Challenge # 26 Retro-walking.
Challenge # 27 Gimme a high fiber
Challenge # 28 The Half Plate Rule
Challenge #29 Feel Good Week
Challenge #30 Try one new healthy food a day
Challenge #31 It’s a stretch
Challenge #32 TLC for heart health
Challenge #33 The sounds of silence



WBI blue


Vicki Bovee is the Registered Dietitian for Western Bariatric Institute and leads the non-surgical weight loss program, “Health and Lifestyle Program.”

Contact Vicki at