Going that extra mile
I’m trying not to let the heat keep me off my feet. It’s hard, though. And uncomfortable. Given we hear stories of something called a “refreshing breeze” at this point in our Southern Maryland summers, I wonder what sort of bribe Mother Nature needs to ever experience that again. Can we pool our funds?
I’ve been doing really well with my walking, routinely hitting the 30 “active minute” mark on my Fitbit tracker — huge progress for me! — and clocking in around 6,000 daily steps. Given I was doing about 3,000 when I started wearing a pedometer in January, this is an accomplishment.
It was easier in the spring, of course. The only time I typically have “to myself” is when I sneak away from my desk while my son is at daycare, so I started using my breaks to walk. I embraced our office’s recent move to a White Plains business complex. Sidewalks! Pedestrian crossings! Flowers! For once, the view meant I wasn’t bored. And that’s how I kept coming back for more.
I’m aware of how suspicious I might look, gliding past the same entrance for the fourth or fifth time — and I guess the dark sunglasses don’t help. But I put that awkwardness aside for the sake of getting healthier.
All these extra steps haven’t translated to any weight loss, but I’m reaping other benefits. I feel more balanced and clear-headed. I notice my surroundings more, and I’ve started listening to inspirational podcasts to stay motivated — both at work and at home.
This spring was great. My habits were set. But now that the summer heat has arrived, I’m trying to keep that momentum.
And this is often where I struggle.
I’ve been here before, see. Not in this place exactly, but in that zone of creating healthy habit — going to the gym; attending dance classes; walking along to fitness DVDs at home — and thinking I’ll never go back.
I buy new workout clothes because, of course, the old ones no longer fit (or are too embarrassing to be worn in public). I invest in a fancy water bottle thing. I drag out my like-new sneakers: the expensive ones purchased the last time I started exercising, ’cause apparently the boring ones I wear daily just won’t cut it.
And then? The downfall. After a few weeks, maybe a month or two? I’m back to plopping down with nary an activity in sight.
But I don’t want to write this column again and again. Unlike the many other times my resolve has fizzled like last year’s fireworks, I want to keep going. And with my current schedule, that requires a daring feat: exercising before coffee.
Or, well . . . before my second cup of coffee. Let’s not get too wild.
Before work, I grab water and just go. I don’t overthink it: I just walk. The water bottle has a practical use, of course, but I also rely on it as the universal symbol of, “Hey, don’t worry that I’m walking by again. Not casing the place — just out for a stroll.” Sometimes I even drink from it.
While I still hate sweating, I’m able to duck in the shade enough that it isn’t miserable. I now keep comfortable shoes, sunscreen and bug repellant in my car so I have fewer excuses preventing exercise. Just as I did with my Battle Creek Cypress Swamp Sanctuary adventure a few weeks ago, having supplies ready to go means I can’t chicken out at the last minute.
Because I’m great at that: the frizzy-haired queen of excuses. When a friend and I went to fitness classes together, the peer pressure kept me going. But the second she was sidelined by an injury — and I would have had to go alone? Forget it. I mysteriously had a headache, was too tired, needed to work late. Every day.
Similarly, I would walk with my husband and son at Spencer’s suggestion . . . but rarely on my own. There was always something to do, something to take care of — or it was too hot, too cold. Too early or getting too late. Or, my personal favorite: too buggy. Yes, friends, I’m not above blaming insects.
I still run awkwardly from bumblebees and katydids, but a spritz of eau de citronella has given me more confidence outdoors. And the daily updates and graphs from my Fitbit keep me motivated . . . and competitive.
I — er, I mean, Oliver — got Spencer his own fitness tracker for Father’s Day, so we now compete in step challenges to see who is truly going the extra mile.
See, I love bragging rights almost as much as cupcakes. And I really love cupcakes. Hence all the steps. We do what we must, right? Challenge accepted.