One step at a time

I know, I’ve been quiet lately. I’ve been feeling subdued. Introspective. Sometimes when I’m quiet it’s because I have nothing to say. Other times there’s just too much and it’s overwhelming and I don’t know how to say it. It has been a little bit of both, lately.

I’ve gone through intense periods of time the past few months when all I can do is write. And equally intense periods of time when I simply can’t. When all I can do is think. But honestly, frustrating as it is, “just thinking” is a necessary part of my process. Still, none of that helps with writing blog posts. And sometimes you just have to go with some random topic so people will stop wondering whether you’re still breathing.

Hence, this post.

My daughter sent me a text message yesterday, saying she had just achieved a personal best time in running— two miles in 19:20. She said it’s the first time she has broken the 10-minute/mile pace.

running-mdMy first thought was, “Wow. That’s really impressive!”

My second thought was, “Oh for godsakes, you are so disgustingly healthy.” Okay, fine, that was actually my first thought. But it was closely followed by that I’m so impressed thing. Really. They were almost the same thought.

I’ve always hated running. Always. I don’t hate when other people do it, I just hate doing it myself. These days, with my ridiculously messed up knees, running is not even an option. Not even if I loved it. Which I don’t.

But I have been concerned lately about my lack of exercise. Well, let’s be honest. It’s more of a lack of movement. Of any kind. I have become terrifyingly sedentary, now that I’m working at home full time. Even more so than when I was unhealthily sedentary while chained to a desk in the working world five (or six) days a week.

I sit when I write. And when I read. I sit while browsing the internet. The cat insists I sit for a certain length of time each day so she can snuggle. It’s a problem. And it’s dangerous to my health. I know that.

Part of this burgeoning [ahem] problem, as I perceived it, was my close and continual proximity to my kitchen and all the lovely food contained therein. Lovely healthy non-fattening food, of course. And I’ll admit, I focused for a while on food as an issue because it was easier than contemplating exercise.

I like to think I’m pretty knowledgeable about which foods are fattening and what constitutes healthy eating. I mean, it’s basic common sense, right? But since I was bored procrastinating looking for fancy electronic toys to quantify my eating habits, I started using MyNetDiary. So I could officially document my oh-so-healthy food choices. I could at least reassure myself that my caloric intake was not a problem.

The thing about NetDiary is that it not only tracks calories, it also categorizes fat and carbs and protein. Depending on which diet theory you subscribe to, each of these things is considered, by someone, to be BAD. But arguably, depending on what type of fat it is, fat is the worst of the three. And I was surprised to find that I was consuming too much of it. That things I’d always considered to be “protein” were also pretty high in fat content. Mostly, cheese. Damn, I love cheese. Did you know eggs contain fat? Chicken fat, I presume. And nuts. You add a small handful of pecans to your nutritious salad at lunch and OMG, suddenly you’re courting death. Or something.

It has been an interesting experiment. But really, my eating habits are pretty healthy. So now my focus has shifted to increasing the use of my muscles. Yes, I still have a few. They’re pitiful, but I have hope I can figure out how to make them work again.

I’ve decided I need to do more walking. More than the paucity of steps that comprise the well-worn trek between my desk and the refrigerator. Walking is fantastic exercise. And with my knees being as irrevocably messed up as they are, walking is one of the things I can still do without it resulting in urgent reconstructive orthopedic surgery. Or amputation.

Since NetDiary has worked so well in helping me keep track of food intake, I want to find something that will similarly help me keep track of physical activity. Something that will count my steps and motivate me to take more of them. “You took 10 steps today! Hooray! Let’s try for 12 tomorrow.”

one-step-at-a-time-86951-500-395I know there are a bunch of things out there that do this. But none of them are free, as far as I can tell, so I want feedback before I invest. Have any of you used these things? I googled FitBit and it looked promising. But since then I have been mercilessly stalked by online ads for their product and am sort of pissed off enough by the intrusion that I don’t even want to give them a try, let alone my money.

I know. I am so unreasonable. And so reluctant to admit I need to do this. Sigh. Exercise is hard. Writing is hard too. Isn’t it enough that I’m doing one hard thing? I have to do two hard things at once? And how many times can I write “hard” in one paragraph without having prurient thoughts and snickering before I change all occurrences of that word to difficult?

What was I saying?

Right. Keeping in mind that I don’t have a smart phone (so apps are not an option) and have absolutely no desire whatsoever to connect with an online group of strangers who are also tracking exercise, do any of you have a suggestion for a tracking device? Hmmm, perhaps “tracking device” is a bad choice of words. I really don’t want to have to intercept NSA reports on a daily basis to figure out how many steps I’ve taken. Although I’m almost convinced they could tell me, give or take a step or two.

How do you all keep track of your daily sluggishness activity? I need some inspiration and motivation.


Filed under goals, health and well-being

7 responses to “One step at a time

  1. If you have any smidgen of attraction to the accumulation of data, a FitBit or the Nike thing (FitBand?) is a very fun gadget. A FitBit also tracks how many (equivalent) flights of stairs you’ve climbed and names the various heights (World’s Tallest Pencil! A brontasaurus!), and finding out what those would turn out to be was motivating for me. Recognizing that one just needs to be moving around turns formerly chores (or mere ambling around) into healthy motion–Hey, let’s spend five minutes WALKING AROUND and putting stuff away, woo hoo! not “doing housework.”

    But also, books on tape.


  2. Thanks, Ann Marie! I like the idea of it being somewhat interactive. I’m sure, given enough time, I can achieve the climbing height of Two Stacked Dimes and work my way up to Tallest Pencil. As long as it doesn’t say things like, “Seriously, are you not leaving the house again today?” Or, “Did you actually die? Do we need EMS?”


  3. diane65

    KDJ, my iPod Nano has a fitness counter that keeps track of my steps. AND you can put audiobooks on it, so you can listen to them while you walk. There is no need to transmit the info to anyone, it is stored indefinitely in the device. On SparkPeople, you don’t HAVE to interact with people: I basically did not for the entire first year. And they have a few short exercise videos that you can do seated, which is probably helpful for cranky knees. The Fitbit is a much more purpose-built mechanism – but I don’t think it tells you stories.


  4. Diane, I’ve been wondering what you used. Thing is, I’m not sure I’d listen to audiobooks or podcasts. The only time I’ve listened to them is during long car trips. Mostly they just frustrate me because I read so much faster than the narrator talks and I get impatient at the time involved vs. reading. But I will check out the seated exercises over at SP. Thanks for the info!


  5. I used a tracker on my smartphone so that won’t help you but you can get an old-fashioned non-electronic pedometer. It will tell you how many steps you take a day. Your goal is a minimum of 10,000. Seems like a lot, and if you don’t leave your house, it is. But wandering through your gorgeous yard would be a good start. Or down the street to the corner. I’d prefer you don’t die, so don’t get something that offers to call EMS every time you don’t move because you’re writing. High blood pressure due to muse being scared off would not be good for your health.


  6. Theresa

    In the past I’ve used The ads in the free version aren’t too annoying, and it has a much less cluttered interface than spark people, in my opinion. It’s all manual entry, though.

    My younger sib found a zombie couch to 5k app or podcast. Where they help you pretend you’re being chased by zombies. To make your workout more interesting or at least entertaining. I know that’s not precisely what you’re looking for, but maybe you could find something similar to meet your needs…heh. I just had a funny idea, but this typing on my ipad is getting annoying..


  7. Zombies? Chasing me?! Good grief, Theresa, couldn’t you at least find one with BEARS if you want to terrorize me? I think I need something less ambitious than couch to 5K — unless the “k” in question is short for “kitchen” trips or “kittens” cleaned-up-after.

    Keziah, 10,000 steps? A day? *uncontrollable laughter* My goal is to move MORE today than I did yesterday. Let’s not get ridiculous about this. I wondered at first whether there were still any of the old-fashioned pedometers around, but decided I sort of like the idea that I don’t have to mess with manual entry. And knowing MY muse, any high blood pressure due to the arrival of EMS guys would have nothing to do with fear. I wonder if calling hot, muscular, competent men in uniform is a real feature . . . must do more research . . .