During lockdown, like many others, I have been food shopping more locally than I used to. No longer am I travelling to the supermarket for the weekly or fortnightly “big shop”. Instead, every day or two I am going to the local Co-op, butcher, greengrocer or corner shop to pick up the essentials for the next couple of days. I also realised that I normally drive there, mainly because I never really know exactly how much I’ll come back with. I’ll always return with a treat or two and I have a habit of raiding the bargain bucket. In fact, I always buy more than I plan to and more than I really need.
So, this week I am going to make one micro-change which will hopefully have multiple benefits. I’m quite simply going to walk to the shops rather than drive. I’m hoping this will encourage me to think twice before purchasing the extras I normally buy (as I’ll have to carry them back with me), plan my meals better (and therefore my shopping trips too), increase my physical activity levels for the day as well as saving a few pennies.
When it comes to treats, if they’re in the house then I crave them. I have very little self control when eating them and It is nigh on impossible to have just one or two biscuits. Before I know it, I’ve eaten the whole packet without particularly enjoying them. However, when the treats are not in the house, I very rarely crave them, so I’m hoping this micro-change will have a knock-on effect to me not purchasing the treats in the first place. However, I’m not restricting myself from these treats completely; if I really want it then I’ll still buy it, but I’m expecting to purchase fewer treats than I normally do.
In order to make the walk back home not too challenging by having too many bags to carry, I’ll need to plan my trip better than I do currently. Normally, I enter the shop with zero or little idea of what I want to buy for the next meal or two and hope for some inspiration when I get inside. Often, I’ll find something that takes my fancy, put it in my basket but then find something else more appealing later on, keeping both items in my basket. If I know what meals I’m cooking and therefore shopping for, hopefully I’ll only buy the ingredients needed for those meals.
The most obvious benefit to walking to the shops instead of driving is that I will be walking more than I normally would. As I’m sure we all know by now, this extra exercise will help me stay a little more active and ultimately help improve my physical and mental health, as well as giving myself some valuable time away from distractions as well as some fresh air.
As always, I like to test my theory out and attempt to quantify the results before posting my weekly micro-change idea. This week, there have been a few guesstimates but, as I hoped, the potential for significant improvements to my health and wellbeing.
Firstly, having looked back over the shopping receipts from the last week, I discovered that I spent an average of around £2 on “treats” in each of my shopping trips, of which there were 4. I also used the calorie counting App for last week to count up the number of extra calories contained in these small extras. It turned out that I was purchasing over 2,000 extra calories! Obviously, this doesn’t mean I ate many extra calories last week (I probably did), but they are now in the house ready for when my either my sweet tooth or boredom strikes.
Since encouraging myself to walk to the shops instead of driving, I have been more conscious of planning ahead for my meals. Sometimes I have written a list before hand, but more often I used my 5-minute walk to come up with a mental list instead. One concern I had was that the walk would seem like a chore but, to be honest this hasn’t been the case. In fact, I’ve actually enjoyed the 5 minutes to myself away from home distractions. I also tracked the number of steps taken to walk to the shops and back. This averaged just over 500 steps each way, so over 1,000 extra steps each day. So far, so good; but let’s see what the numbers say:
Firstly, calories. At the moment, I’m visiting the shops 3 or 4 times a week, so near enough every other day. Each week I was purchasing (and consuming, whether that be on the day of purchase of subsequently) an extra 2000 calories each week. Obviously, I will still purchase a treat now and then, but if this week is anything to go buy, that will be rare. So, for the sake of the maths, I’ll use rough numbers, allowing for the inevitable treats down the line. I am also walking approximately an extra 1,000 steps each trip, which averages out at an additional 3,500 steps each week. This is where there is a little bit of guesstimation; as everyone’s metabolic rate is slightly different and dependant on a number of factors, it is difficult to quantify how many extra calories my walking has expended. It is generally accepted that 10,000 steps at a brisk pace will burn between 400 and 500 calories, so I’ll go for the worst case scenario and assume I burn the lower end of the scale.
If I average a walk to the shops every other day, I’ll walk over 180,000 extra steps each year. If this also encourages me to think twice about purchasing the extras, there is a potential for me to save & burn up to/over a combined 110,000 calories over a year. That is the equivalent of over 2 stone in weight! I could also save over £350 over the year, which would certainly be nice.
All of this is possible by simple choosing to walk to the shops rather than driving. I think I’ll carry on with this!
What tiny change do you want to make this week?
If you would like to speak to a health coach about your health goals go to http://bit.ly/lincs_residents
If you would like to read more about micro changes you can read my other Micro Change Monday blogs here
Chris Laming, Physical Activity Coach
July 13, 2020