Go­ing that ex­tra mile

Maryland Independent - - Classified - Twit­ter: @right­meg

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.

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