Yes, I’m still playing that infernal game, Pokémon Go. I’m currently a level 27 trainer, nearly halfway to being level 28. To date I’ve registered 123 different Pokémon to my Pokédex, caught 3,750 Pokémon, evolved 506 Pokémon, visited 4,058 PokéStops, hatched 224 eggs, and have walked 439 kilometers. And I’m nowhere near done yet!

In my first several posts about Pokémon Go, I complained quite a bit about Niantic’s (the game maker) poor product, but I still kept playing. I must admit that in Q4 of 2016, Niantic really pulled it together and turned Pokémon Go into a very nice game. Is it missing a few things? Sure, but they aren’t killers. I’d love to be able to battle other trainers straight up and trade Pokémon, but that doesn’t ruin the game for me. I can easily enjoy playing without those features.

There is one major stat, not listed above, that is the absolute key reason I’m still playing Pokémon Go and will continue to play.

Simply put, the game is helping me get healthier. I’ve referenced numerous health problems in other blog posts, and Pokémon Go has had a positive impact on two key situations. First, my weight. I’ve lost 15 pounds by playing Pokémon Go. Walking for an hour every day is no joke. My waist size has dropped by 3 full inches and is pushing close to being a full 4 inch drop. That’s amazing! I’ve done tons of diet and exercise plans in the past, and none have had that kind of impact.

Second, and no less important, is the direct impact Pokémon Go has had on my heart condition. Before starting to play Pokémon Go, my cardiologist said that all of the tests he’s run indicate that I was 99% certain to have a heart attack within the next 3 years. That’s a daunting situation hanging over my head. However, I just got my latest report from my cardiologist, and the window has expanded to 7 to 10 years. I’ll take that! That’s amazing news for me and my family. Sure, I’m still likely to have a heart attack, but if I just keep walking, I’ll open that window even wider.

Do I need to play Pokémon Go when I walk? No, not at all. I could just listen to a book on tape or music and enjoy the day. But to me, that would get boring after a week or so and I would take up any excuse to skip the walk. Pokémon Go keeps me seeking. I’m constantly looking for the next Pokémon to pop up on my screen, wondering what I’ll get at the next PokéStop, or which Pokémon the next egg to hatch will reveal. Pokémon Go keeps me going. The hour walk breezes by as a move from PokéStop to PokéStop.

There are times when I get frustrated by the constant repetition of catching Pidgeys and Rattatas (which seem to thrive around my walking path). And yes, there are definitely days where the thought of spending an hour walking around catching the same darn Pokémon over and over looses its appeal. Fortunately, it’s right about that time that I’m close to leveling up, or having a 10k egg hatch, or something new appears on my radar (thank God that’s working now!), or Niantic has one of their double-XP weeks. I’ve got enough curiosity to keep wondering what’s next in my Pokémon Go game. I’m really looking forward to the Gen 2 additions. I think that update will be like a breath of fresh air.

I’m really hoping there will be a Christmas double-XP event starting soon. As the weather has gotten colder, it’s been more and more difficult to motivate myself to go outside to walk each day. Right now my main motivation is a little chart I built to track which of my Pokémon are close to evolving into a new, unregistered Pokémon. I’m using the chart to determine which Pokémon to have as my buddy.


As you can see from the chart, Clefairy is the next Pokémon on the list to evolve, so I have Clefairy as my buddy. It will take walking 33 kilometers to earn enough candy to evolve it into Clefable. When that happens, I’ll switch to having Voltorb as my buddy. It’s a great way of keeping track of everything, instead of constantly guessing which Pokémon I should have as my buddy. I update the chart every day after my lunchtime walk, so there is some adjustment to the list almost daily. In fact, today I hatched a Charmeleon, collecting enough candy to move it up two spots on the list.

Yes, I have 1,667 kilometers to walk before I can evolve all of these into their as-yet-unregistered forms, but at least now I have a plan with some sense of order. Hatching eggs and catching Pokémon will change the shape of this list long before all of these Pokémon can evolve. I’m cool with those changes, that’s part of the fun. Obtaining Charizard just got a little more realistic today by hatching one egg. Just wait until I’m walking 4 to 5 kilometers per day with Charmeleon as my buddy and I hatch one or two more of those suckers! I’ll conqueror those 32 candies in no time. I just have to get through Clefairy, Voltorb, Seel, Shellder, Grimer, Machoke, and Wartortle first! Yeah, I’ve got a long way to go, but it will be fun and healthy getting there!

Do you have any Pokémon Go strategies? Are you still playing the game? What’s working for you? Have you noticed that you’re getting a little bit healthier while walking to catch and hatch?