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  • georgetreepainter

FitBit, or a Bit Fit?

I was with my sister-in-law last weekend and she had a FitBit. This meant we knew at all times how many steps we had taken towards our daily ten thousand. My brother mentioned that their son likes to quote from a list of Top Ten Things White Women Say. Number one: Great! This will count towards my ten thousand steps! My sister-in-law kept her eyes firmly on the prize.

I’m not really up for a FitBit. I don’t want to know my oxygen level, my current heart rate, or what percentage of my blood is now wine. But I was inspired a while ago by people with FitBits to download a free app on my phone called Steps. A simple little thing, it just tells you how many steps you took today. Or in my case how few. I’m in my car all day for work, I reason. I’m tired when I get home from work, I also reason, and ten thousand is a lot. I have many reasonings. But the sad truth is, sometimes when I look at my Steps app at the end of the day, it says things like four hundred and eighty.

The other drawback of Steps vs FitBit, in case you’re trying to weigh up free vs two hundred bucks, is that with Steps you have to be carrying your phone with you for it to recognize that you stepped. Trips to and from the bathroom during the night don’t get counted unless you remember to bring your phone with you. And that can be a lot of steps that don't get counted, I reason.

I know that nobody really wants to hear how my fitness regime is going. I learned that long ago when I one day heard myself talking about how my fitness regime was going and realized that I was boring the pants off myself. But I do think it’s an interesting topic to explore how to stay fit when you are busy and in your fifties.

My body used to be forgiving. That’s alright, it would tell me, you can stay up late writing with just a cheese sandwich for dinner, and I will still be ok with you getting up to go on the treadmill before work. Now, my body is less forgiving. You stayed up past nine-thirty last night, it reminds me in a reproachful tone, and yet you want to get up before work to go on the treadmill? What about my beauty sleep?

Lately I’ve discovered that one way to nudge my daily step count upward is to walk quickly up and down our driveway. It’s easy, it’s fun, and I don’t have to go into my moldy basement where my treadmill lives alongside spiders so large they have names.

This is a brief aside, but all the giant spiders in our basement are named Igor. The many small or large spindly spiders down there don’t pose a threat to humanity, so they don’t warrant names. The original Igor, whom I encountered earlier this summer, was so large and solid that when I accidentally shook him out of the laundry, he landed on the concrete floor with a thud. Later that week, I encountered Igor for a second time and I noticed that he was hanging on the wall near the door cuddling an egg sac. Even my husband, also against harming living things, agreed that Igor (or Igorina) had to go. We just couldn’t countenance being landlords to what would hatch from that sac.

I’ll make it brief. Me. A shovel. Couple of attempts. Screeching, from me. Admiration, from husband.

Anyway, the driveway is outside among the sugar maples, and it stretches pleasingly from my car down to the road. My app tells me that each round trip is about a hundred and fifty steps. So I would only have to trot up and down 66.666 times to reach ten thousand. Is that a lot? That’s a lot, right?

So Saturday, after paying all the bills and wrangling with the IRS and doing laundry and house-cleaning and grocery shopping, I got right on the driveway thing. Killer music in my headphones. 81 degrees, mosquito count under one thousand per square foot. Perfect conditions, doesn’t it seem, for marching up and down your driveway 66 times.

Our driveway is steep and the summer storms have created deep craters and riverbeds in it. It is also gravel, because contrary to the wisdom of locals, or indeed anyone who has lived here for more than one winter, we like it that way. Blacktop is just so city mouse, and we are country mice. So I slithered about a bit on the downward journeys. I also stopped to do important things like try to fill in some of the craters with small rocks I found lying around. I was out there for about an hour and I only got 2,634 steps in.

In my day job, where there’s never enough time to do all that has to be done, I operate on the principle that every minute can be useful. Even if it’s spent planning what to do in the next minute. But I try not to have this principle spill over into my weekends. I like being efficient, but I also like wandering about with a vacant look in my eyes, because that is restful and good for my mental health.

After my unimpressive number of steps, I came inside and popped open a La Croix. I lay on the couch for a bit perfecting my vacant stare. I did do a couple more things later to promote my fitness, but I know you really don’t care, so I’ll just leave it at that.

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