THIS WEEK I have a confession to make – and it’s about a new addiction I have.
It all started last month when I took to the stage at the council’s Staff Conference with Carolyn Wilkins to talk about the theme of the event: which was the health and wellbeing of all our staff.
This is part of a new drive within the council and it has obvious merit.
A huge amount of credit for many of the achievements here in recent years is down to our staff, be they frontline, back office or managerial, and that’s something I am keen to recognise.
Despite the ongoing cuts, reductions in their teams and rising demand for our services, so many of them have kept focussed on doing their bit towards continuing our improvement journey.
But we also recognise that for our staff to continue getting better at what they do – and having the drive to do so – we also need them to be in good shape.
Put simply, to serve our residents well we need our employees to be ‘fit for purpose’, both physically and mentally.
To help them achieve that we’ve put together a comprehensive programme that signposts them to help, inspiration and whatever else they might need to make important life changes for themselves and their families.
Happy staff are productive staff, after all. They take less time off, their morale is good – and that means they deliver for residents.
Let’s face it though, very few of us these days have the time to lead perfect lifestyles.
And if you’re anything like me you’ve probably become expert at always finding an excuse or a reason why we can’t make that healthy change ‘just now’.
But I knew it would be utterly pointless that day if I stood there in front of staff urging them to make a change if I didn’t try it myself. “Do as I say, not as I do” isn’t a great mantra for any politician…
That’s why I agreed to take on a ‘Fitbit challenge’, which basically means agreeing to use a tracker to monitor your daily physical activity and see how it compares to others.
This has proved to be a fantastic ‘lightbulb’ moment for me (so far!) as I have been more active in recent weeks than for many more years than I can care to admit.
The standard target is for people to try and do 10,000 steps daily, so I set out determined to achieve that and, I will admit, my natural competitive streak didn’t take long to kick in.
I really don’t have time to start planning routines so I just decided to use the fantastic walks from our ‘Let’s Go For a Walk’ campaign and see how it went.
My followers on Twitter may have noticed me tweeting away with pictures lately as I have been doing these routes.
I have walked around sites like Daisy Nook, Strinesdale (five times!) and Dove Stone Reservoir with plenty more yet to have a go at.
This is such an easy way to get active.
It removes the bother of working out what to do or where to go and I’ve also enjoyed seeing some fantastic scenery across the borough. Some of it was already familiar, but I’d never been to Strinesdale before and there are other walks that I’ve yet to do that will be new to me.
I started out on this mission on June 22 and I am still going strong, touch wood.
In the first full week I did 60,000 steps, which I was pretty pleased with. I then managed 90,000 steps the next week due, at least partly, to being at a local government conference where I used this as a perfect motivation to get around and see everything.
As I mentioned, other colleagues at the council have also been getting involved and you really do become competitive (in a nice way) when checking the latest data to see if you’ve just managed to overtake a hardened walker/runner’s efforts for the day.
We are, of course, all doing this mainly in our own time but the habit is now quickly spreading around the organisation and it has become a great talking point amongst staff. Some are even having ‘walking meetings’.
I’d encourage anyone reading this blog to visit the Let’s Go For a Walk section on our website here, have a look at what’s on offer and consider having a go.
It’s all totally free. These walks take you around some of the most beautiful parts of our borough and you can also use them as a great way to get quality time with family and friends.
So, that’s it. My new addiction is steps and physical activity and it feels a good one to have right now – so long as I don’t start getting obsessed to the point where I’m deliberately getting up during meetings and pacing around the tables…
This has all even culminated in a new delivery at home this week.
To even my own astonishment I have just taken delivery of a shiny new treadmill.
I’m not naive enough to think it will ever has as many miles on it as my car does, but I am hoping I can really stick to this and that it won’t be going on e-Bay any time soon!