By Beth Blair
February 18, 2013

Do you know how many steps a day you take? Until last week I had no idea. What I did know was that the American Heart Association recommends that everyone should aim for 10,000 steps (roughly five miles) a day for overall health and to decrease the risk of heart disease.

I recall several years ago receiving a cheap pedometer that supposedly tracked my steps, but it wasn't very reliable. If I ran a few steps, the numbers would register 20 steps per my one. I gave up on the step tracking after a day or two. That is, until last week.

During my last session with my life coach, Kate Larsen, we were talking about my exercise-as you may have read in previous posts, I'm having a tough time losing weight. She showed me her personal Fitbit and told me all of the wonderful things about it. It tracks your steps, flights of stairs, calories, mileage, and sleep patterns, and it even has a little flower that grows during the day as a representation of the day's activity. The best part is it tracks everything online so progress can be monitored over time.

A week later, on a Friday afternoon, a Fitbit One was clipped to my jeans pocket. I was looking forward to meeting my daily goal of 10,0000 steps. How hard could it be?

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But within two hours I realized that between my computer and driving time (to and from the kids' school), I might have a very tough time meeting just half my goal. I was right. For half a day I only walked 3,814 steps. What's even worse: My activity level was considered almost 80 percent sedentary.

The next day was Saturday, and since I don't work on weekends, I knew I could easily increase my steps. I attended yoga class, did weekend housework, and my family went out to dinner. The surprise: My full day was almost the same as my half-day the day before: 3,891. Say what?!

I was crushed. Could this explain why I'm not losing weight? Because I'm inactive?

By Sunday I was on a mission. I put on my warm winter running gear, heart rate monitor, Fitbit, and fur-lined hat. The chilly wind hit my face the moment I walked out the door, but my no-excuses mantra came to mind as I made my way down the driveway and up the street's steep grade.

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My region has received quite a bit of snow this winter and there was a lot of ice. I did my best to avoid the slick patches, walking and running as allowed, and found myself taking a route I had never done before so I was't sure of my distance. By the time I returned home 25 minutes later I was anxious to see my numbers. The results were 1,800 steps. Being that 2,000 steps equals roughly 2 miles, I was happy to see a jump in my progress. But what was even more surprising was that the steep hills I climbed during my outing was equivalent to 12 floors of stairs!

Did I reach my 10,000 steps goal for the day? Nope. By the end of the day I walked/ran 7,221 steps, climbed 14 floors, and traveled 3.28 miles.

As I work my way toward reaching 10,000 steps, I've decided to compete with myself and increase my steps each day, even if that means walking in place. Today my goal is 8,000 steps and I think another jaunt outside may be in order to help me get there.

How do you get your steps in every day? Please share your secrets!