Walk, but do not run
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” says the proverb. I guess I’m taking that literally. Over the years we’ve been together, friends, I’ve written about health and weight loss many times — and am still a work in progress. These days, I’m a steps-counter: a habit that pairs well with my preoccupation with numbers and measuring.
When I lost weight in 2013, it was mostly due to my diligent counting of calories and not exceeding a daily limit. Assigning a value to food and keeping a running tally was simple. Back then, anyway. My efforts to jumpstart my weight loss post-baby have been . . . challenging.
Shedding almost 40 pounds in 12 months took a militant devotion to the cause. I had to actively choose — day by day, often hour by hour — to reach only for healthy items, watch my portions and stay away from “trigger foods” like sweets. Sounds simple, right? I really don’t want to use my son as a cop-out, but becoming a parent does often mean we put ourselves second. That’s not an excuse to overindulge, but I just don’t make time to plan and prep healthy meals and snacks like I once did.
In the year since Oliver was born, I have not resisted temptation. At all. And though the occasional treat is fine, I lack the self-control to have “just a taste” — just a few potato chips, just a sliver of cake. When I was getting three hours of sleep each night (thankfully in the past), it seemed food and coffee were all I had to look forward to.
I wish I were joking. But when you’re that drained . . . I guess I felt I’d earned it.
For me, leading a healthy lifestyle requires changing the way I think about food. Poor choices always stem from my brain’s twisted logic that a bad day calls for pie (you’ll feel better!) — and so does a good one (celebrate!).
I’m getting better about it, but that will always be my struggle. Food has a delicious power to numb and placate, to uplift and calm. Unfortunately, it’s rarely about hunger. Not steering my cart through the bakery section takes willpower I don’t always have, but I’m tr ying.
Where I don’t always succeed with eating, I’m working on activity. And that’s where the step-counting comes in. I know I need to move — something I didn’t do even at my thinnest. Though I was at a healthy weight, I don’t know that I was healthy.
My life does not revolve around being “thin.” I want to be fit and strong — capable of keeping up with my soon-to-be-actually-toddling toddler. I don’t want to be winded going up a flight of stairs, or tired by the slightest incline on a walk. I want to be quick. Light. Free. And so I’ve channeled my obsession with numbers into movement, not calorie-counting. A simple pedometer clips to my pants pocket each morning, tracking only one thing: how many steps I’ve taken that day.
It’s nothing fancy, but it keeps me goal-oriented: a way to challenge myself to do just a little bit more. On nice afternoons, you might even catch me circling the office building or parking lot — anything to beat yesterday’s total.
The first few times I wore the pedometer on an average weekday, I took about 2,000 steps: roughly equivalent to a mile. Walking 10,000 steps is a popular daily goal, but I knew I couldn’t push myself too hard too fast.
I hate to exercise. I don’t like sweating or running and have no talent for sports. While I was initially enthusiastic about dance and yoga classes, those eventually left me cold, too. (Or hot, actually. See: hates sweating.)
But walking? Walking I can do. It’s something I have to do, which is even better: an easy way to challenge myself. I take the stairs instead of the elevator and park far from store entrances. It’s also a task I can complete without excuses. I mean, unlike the gym, you won’t hear me say, “Ran out of time — think I’m going to skip walking today.”
Just by pushing myself a bit while running errands with Spencer and Oliver, Saturday was my best day ever: more than 17,000 steps.
I try to walk at least 5,000 steps daily — so 17,000 is quite a jump. Not sustainable day-to-day, but still an awesome achievement for me.
We must begin where we are, right?
See you at the top of the stairs.