Monday, August 25, 2014

How I Spent My Summer (Hint: Being Lame)

What a summer, eh? Way back late last winter, the paying job offered me a fitbit. In case you’re uninitiated, it’s a little pedometer that you strap to your wrist and it will record the number of steps you take per day, how far you’ve traveled, how much you’ve slept, and a few other things that make me feel a bit creeped out.

I mean, I’m not sure what the criminal underworld would do with the knowledge of how many hours I slept last Tuesday, but I’m sure in the hands of the appropriately evil, it could be worthy of an expose on 60 minutes.

Well, the actual point of all this, of course, from my employer’s perspective, is to make sure I’m fit enough not to drive up our healthcare costs as a whole (joke’s on them, my wife carries my health insurance), and one of the big indicators of overall health is body weight.

I’ve spent most of my life being skinny, way too skinny as a kid and teen, there was a brief period in my mid-twenties where I plumped up, but then another decade (almost) of being skinny through exercise and a relatively strict diet.

Then, around the time I started this blog, I kinda let myself go. I stopped exercising and starting eating a relatively horrid diet. I got pretty big. Early last summer (2013) I managed to drop a about 25 pounds by living off of V8’s for a few months. But that leveled off once I determined it was untenable for me to live that way long term.

Cut to late Feb of this year, and these fancy fitbits that they were handing out at work. At the time I’m still 20 pounds overweight, despite having dropped the 25 I mentioned a moment ago. I think, Gee, I can take care of those last 20 pounds now.

So I start to walk, the target is 10,000 steps per day. For a stride like mine that’s just under 5 miles. Given my walking speed that’s about two hours of walking per day. Well, maybe an hour and a half, I’m rounding here for simplicity’s sake.

And to my great surprise, I found that I liked it. Turns out that I get about a mile per day just doing things like walking to the bathroom and piddling around the kitchen at home. The rest is something I’d have to do on purpose.

To rephrase that, the rest is me walking on purpose – for no reason. None at all. At first it was a bit tough, having to remember to walk, even if I had nowhere to go. My dogs appreciated it, they don’t mind walking with no destination. For me, it was a learning curve. I grew up believing that if you start going somewhere, well, there should be a somewhere you're trying to get to. You can’t just go off and wander about aimlessly. That’s the devil’s playground, or something.

Soon, getting 10,000 steps in in a day was too easy. By May I was regularly hitting that many by lunch. Putting in 10, 11 miles in a day wasn’t unusual. If I could only get a time machine and go visit the younger me that said he’d never consider ‘walking’ as an exercise, I’d show him.

So it was great. The spring came and went, and before I knew it I was in the middle of the dog days of summer. August came in with a whoosh and I was still at it. Maybe not quite putting in 20,000 steps per day, but still churning out 10k without a problem.

We’d purchased a fancy digital scale a couple of years ago, to better document my descent into Jabba-the-Huttness. I realized that I’d not weighed since I began my walking regiment.

Wow, six months. I had a routine when I weighed before. Same exact time every day, wearing the same thing, just to take out any possible things that might cause me to get a weird result (Like a big lunch). I had no problem getting ready to weigh in.

I stepped onto the scale last week. Wondering what 6 months of clean living would mean for me. These fancy scales don’t work like the old ones used to. I liked stepping on it and seeing the numbers spin by, slow, go in reverse, slow again, then start counting forward, and back and forth until settling on a nice number.

No, this one sucks. It just spits out a number, down to a tenth of a pound (as long as that tenth is an even number) and that’s what you are.

How’d I do, you ask?

I gained 8 pounds.

Sonuvabitch! I’d been wasting 3 or 4 hours every day, walking in the hot sun, including weekends, and in the rain, and when the mosquitos were out for vengeance, and when I wanted to just stay in and read a book, just to get fatter?

And with that it all came crashing down on me. I’ve been living a lie. Walking isn’t exercise. Younger me was right. It might be exercise when I’m 80, but it isn’t now.

So, whatever.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Walking is exercise, it's just a slow way to do it. Still better than not doing anything at all. Plus you probably gained some muscle, which weighs more than fat.
You need some cardio to be really healthy though. And eating a proper diet - healthy choices and less calories. Together, they will help you lose weight.

Heather Holden said...

Sorry you experienced such disappointment with your scale! I agree with Alex, though; muscle could definitely be a factor. And hey, walking is still better than sitting around all day, so it's definitely not a waste of time...

Pat Dilloway said...

It's so easy to gain weight and so hard to lose it, especially when you get older.


Good Grief! Life is harsh Mistress.

Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

I'm a big guy. I get a little frightened when talk starts to raise its ugly head of putting a fat tax on stuff or charging fat people for more on airplanes.

Andrew Leon said...

I've mostly let stuff slide since we quit the whole pushup thing; however, when I walk (and I'm trying to get back into walking every day), I take my book with me and read while I walk. It actually works as a way of making myself put in the reading time, which I need to do.

Maurice Mitchell said...

One thing that can be deceptive is that muscle weighs more than fat. So all that walking could have built up muscle. Check your BMI!

Spacer Guy said...

Green vegetables are the ticket, Rusty.

Briane Pagel said...

At first I thought the point of this story was "Blogging causes you to gain weight" and I was going to sue Google.

Then I realized that it is WALKING that causes you to gain weight, so you are going to be my test plaintiff in my massive class action lawsuit against ambulation.

Remember how that same thing happened to me? Cheer up -- it could be worse. I, too, have stalled out in my weight loss and can't even do pushups right now, and according to the doctor's scale yesterday I'm up five pounds since the beginning of summer.

But now I know why -- I WALKED from the car to the office. Next time, I'm getting a ride from my car directly into the office. I'm no sucker.

Donna Hole said...

My job is sponsoring a "couch to 5k" fitness quarter. Well, I'm not a purposeful couch sitter- but between the sit down day job and the at home writing/solitaire ambitions, I guess I qualify as a couch potato. Not gonna get up and run any time soon, but I may log about a half mile a day getting around the office, the parking lot, walking to 7-11 for that spare Diet Pepsi. HooYah Donna :)

I think I'll wait on a wasting disease to lose weight. Less effort, and I'll some enjoyment out of the malady.

Marianne Kearns said...

Got Jesus, brudda? Get Jesus. Get Seventh-Heaven. 1-outta-1 croaks: only 2 realms left, dude, and 1 of em aint too cool...