“They say sitting is the new smoking,” she parroted. Quite truthfully, every time I hear that, I want to say, “No, it’s not.” I have a sit down job. It’s enough pressure to just have to GO to work, let alone thinking that going to work is going to kill me!
“I jogged for an hour this morning in the pool with a jogging suit on,” the same woman spouted.
I know I was just staring at her as she spoke. I have to be careful what my face looks like when I’m thinking. I’ve been cursed with that RBF (resting bitch face.) In my mind, I was imagining her in some strange get up, running in the water, like the Bionic Man, all slo-mo with twangy weird sound effects in the background. But my face probably looked like, “You are lying, Bitch.”
I don’t know this woman. I was just getting some steps in on my break, and she was passing me going the other direction and busted me on it. “Getting some steps in?”
Was it that obvious? Was I counting out loud or walking deliberately? Did I look like I had no destination?
Ever since I got my Smart Phone with the step counter, I have become so aware of my footfalls. Every step I take, I am conscious of the registering of that step in my phone. If I step away from my desk without my phone, I hurry back and stuff it in my pocket – don’t want to miss a step! My pants are always falling down, the weight of my iPhone 6 Plus weighing them down. I’ve resorted to wearing belts.
The other night I was walking down the hall in my underwear and t-shirt. I was all ready for bed and realized I’d forgotten my glass of water, so just hopped out of bed and headed to the kitchen. That’s one of the perks of the empty nest. No one to say, “Gross, Mom! Get some clothes on!”
Anyway, as I felt the Berber carpet on the bottoms of my bare feet, so foreign since I’m always in shoes or sandals or slippers, I heard this little voice in my head reminding me to walk harder to make sure my phone registered the steps. And in the same instance, I thought, I don’t even have my phone on me! What does it matter how I am walking? A small bit of panic set in – have I forgotten how to walk naturally? How obsessed with “steps” have I become?
One day, I walked on the treadmill after work, which I quite often do and have done for years. I stopped at two miles, then checked my phone, which said I’d only walked 1.8 miles! I was ripped off of two tenths of a mile! I posted this on Facebook, to which my adult daughter commented, “What did you do before you had a phone?”
It was a simple comment, tongue in cheek on her part, but it really made me aware that I wasn’t letting life just be life. Everything is a measurement. Everything a competition. I had to wonder, how many times have I missed something really important, because I was thinking more about “how many steps” I was getting in?
I used to take walks, and during those walks, I was noticing the trees, feeling the breeze and letting my mind be one with nature. Lots of epiphanies came to me during these meditative outings – poems, solutions to problems, peaceful feelings, creative ideas – all now replaced with 1-2-3-4 – step harder, go faster, go further, etc. You get the point.
Don’t get me wrong. I like the new fitness craze. I like that people are becoming more aware and getting out and moving. I’ve always exercised. When my kids were little, I memorized Jane Fonda’s Workout, so I could workout behind the couch while my kids watched their favorite video. Later I did the Fat to Firm video, while my youngest son played on the floor beside me – and got stepped on a couple times. My adult children still remember the funky moves and will sometimes mimic them in reminiscing.
I remember when the powers that be came out and said that twenty minutes of aerobic activity three times a week was enough. Then they increased that to thirty minutes. Then they said it was five times a week. Now it’s 10,000 steps a day. I feel like the old nag on Gone with the Wind, hooked to a wagon, and Scarlett, so desperate to get home (or make me get 10,000 steps a day) is lashing me with the whip!
A common question in my house is, “How many steps did you get in today?” It then becomes the competition to see who got the most. Who is competing? What’s the prize for the winner? I picture my husband jumping up and down with his physically demanding day job, “I win, I win! I get to live longer!”
I’m not sure what my answer is. I guess I can commend myself for caring, for trying, for being aware of my trying and for what I am losing in the process. I’m pretty hard on myself, as a rule, so I think the key is to ease up. Keep doing my best, but like all those texters out there who have to be staring at their phones when you are talking to them, or when they are driving, I need to just put my phone down. Do what I can do and stop measuring it. Enjoy life!
“Comparison is the thief of happiness.” Right?