Hus­tling away from bad sports

Maryland Independent - - Classified - Twitter: @right­meg

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.

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