Hustling away from bad sports
Ifinally discovered a way to really keep myself moving when I would much rather be seated with ice cream — and it’s been under my nose for months.
When I opened my fitness tracker on Mother’s Day, I paid little attention to the “challenges” that so many active Fitbit users love. My dad wears his pedometer on busy days touring around Washington, D.C., and occasionally “taunts” me with his totals (all in good fun, of course). A competitive spark would briefly ignite . . . then extinguish.
Because there’s no way I’m catching the man. He routinely logs 15,000 steps while regaling tourists with stories of John Wilkes Booth’s daring escape from Ford’s Theatre or touring around the White House. On a busy day, he clocks 20,000 or more.
I was once lucky to get a quarter of that. But now I’m a little more ridiculous.
And I’ve gotten my husband involved.
As the old proverb states, no marriage is truly tested until the two compete on Fitbit. I joined the first “workweek hustle” — a Monday-to-Friday step challenge to see who can earn the most, receiving a virtual trophy — with Spencer. In contrast to Spence, who is on his feet often, I’m usually planted at my desk during the week. That means getting steps beyond those acquired walking to and from my car takes some creativity.
These days, most are acquired because I’m a bad sport.
Like many children of the ’80s and ’90s, my sister and I grew up on the Berenstain Bears books — each of which had a “moral,” one carefully outlined by my mom while we read. Katie and I became obsessed with morals; we saw them everywhere. It was pretty sneaky of my parents, actually: teaching us right and wrong through innocent children’s tales. The nerve!
One lesson that stuck came from other characters, however. In “Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (And Don’t Come Back!),” a truly underrated “Peanuts” film, Snoopy has an epic meltdown after losing a game of tennis. Rackets are smashed. Snoopy-ese expletives are shouted.
My dad tsked, shaking his head. “He’s a bad sport,” he said.
As a bossy kid, I had to be reminded of these “bad sport” lessons quite often. I was definitely the one who, upon realizing she wasn’t destined to win a game of Monopoly, would fake a headache and bow out.
Yes, friends, when the going gets tough, my reaction has always been to huff away. Thankfully, there is little to be competitive about in my daily life. I don’t race other drivers up 301, play video games or challenge family to see who can polish off the birthday cake first (though I’d like to).
But Fitbit? Fitbit snuck up on me.
Spencer isn’t one to gloat, but he has been crushing me in our workweek hustles for a month. To add insult to injury, he’s barely even trying. While I am constantly walking in circles around my office building, he’s still several thousand steps ahead by dinnertime.
The bad sport spark is what often propels me to run in place at 10 p.m., trying to rack up the last few steps before I collapse. Literally.
It’s worse now. Other friends have now challenged me to workweek hustles. Unable to turn them down, I was somehow in four last week.
And in last place in darn near ever y one.
A friend of a friend came in No. 1 last week. As her victory was announced in the Fitbit app, she cheekily added, “And all of today’s steps were in heels!” And that was it. I was done. Tired of coming in fifth of five, eighth of eight, I have been sweating like a mule heading up the Grand Canyon every day this week. I’ve shattered my previous “bests” with dogged determination.
I don’t have to win. I mean, unlike a buddy training for a 500mile backpacking trip, I’m just an
out of breath writer doing the best she can. I just don’t want to come in dead last.
As of this writing, I’m in second place in one workweek hustle (behind Ms. High Heels, of course), and third or fourth in the others. I am, in fact, beating Spencer — but knowing him, that won’t last long.
I like to win, of course, but “winning” is relative. At the risk of raising my cheesiness level, we’re all winning simply by hitting the sidewalk.
This bad sport is retiring her tennis racket.
Until the results come in, anyway.