Stepping into Crazy Town?
I’ve wanted a FitBit for a while. But I’ve also been a little worried about getting one, which is why I still haven’t taken the plunge. Having dealt with disordered eating in the past, I realize that putting a numerical value on anything (calories in food, my weight, etc.) can lead me down a dark path towards Crazy Town. The same goes for exercise. When I was pregnant, my midwife told me that she recommended to all her clients that they walk 5 miles, 5 days per week in order to ensure a shorter labor and better birth. Challenge accepted! The only problem was that I became a little bit obsessed with making sure I did exactly 5 miles, exactly 5 days per week. If my Nike+ app said I had only walked 4.93 miles as I rounded the corner to my home, I would walk to the end of the block and back to make sure I hit that 5 mile marker. Intellectually I knew it was ridiculous…would .07 miles really make a difference? Of course not! If I walked 4 miles, 4 days per week would that be just as good? Probably! But once I had set that goal for myself, I had to do it, and I had to do it right.
This brings me back to the FitBit thing. Recently I received an email from a co-worker at my weekend nursing job advertising something called the ShapeUp challenge. The basic premise is that you and your teammates must collectively log a certain number of steps over the course of 8 weeks and then you get to choose one of several prizes. One of the prizes was a FitBit, and I wanted it. I figured that if I got one for free and it became something that made me more obsessive than I wanted to be, then nothing was lost because I hadn’t spent a penny on it. So I joined, and they sent me a basic pedometer to measure my steps.
My attitude towards exercise has become a whole lot more relaxed since having a child. Honestly, that’s been mostly a good thing– I no longer feel guilt or anxiety if I haven’t exercised one day. I fear, however, that it’s gone a little too far in the opposite direction of late. Whereas exercise used to be a non-negotiable for me, I’ve now come to place in which I’m maybe a little too okay with sleep, social engagements, and whatever other activity taking priority over exercise. It has become the exception rather than the rule, which made me think that maybe it’s time for me to reevaluate my attitude and see if I can find more balance.
I thought that participating in this challenge might help to motivate me and make me more aware of how much I’m actually moving each day. I also worried, however, that things could get out of hand and I might become a little too over-zealous about getting a certain number of steps each day. Because of that, I’m trying to approach the numbers I see on my pedometer from a place of curiosity (“Oh, that’s interesting. I didn’t have that many steps today. I guess I don’t walk as much as I thought I did when at work.”), rather than allowing my competitive self to take over. This has been a challenge in and of itself– I want to win, dammit!– but I’m trying really hard to keep myself in check.
So, here’s the negative that has come out of it: I’m doing less yoga. Previously, if I had decided the night before that I was going to exercise the next day (usually early in the morning before my daughter wakes up), I would choose between walking/jogging or doing a yoga practice in my living room. I really like yoga, but it doesn’t count for steps, so in the two and a half weeks since I started this challenge, I’ve done yoga exactly once. Yikes. I also might, on occasion, march in place while washing dishes and brushing my teeth. Okay, I sound crazy.
But it’s not all bad news! Here’s the positive that has come out of it: we now take almost daily after-dinner family walks. Sure, it was prompted by my desire to “get my steps,” but it’s also just a lovely thing to do. One of my fondest memories of living with my now-husband (then-boyfriend) in our tiny apartment in the Society Hill area of Philadelphia was taking after-dinner strolls through the historic, cobble-stoned streets of our neighborhood. While a lot has changed since then– we now have to wrangle a rambunctious toddler, and the streets of our Northeast LA neighborhood don’t have the same quaint charm as Society Hill– it’s nice to sort of recreate those walks in our current stage of life. Each time we try to take a different route, exploring different pockets of our ‘hood. Recently we met some neighbors who also had a preschooler, as well as twenty-nine(!!) chickens in their backyard. We walked back home with half a dozen fresh eggs, and the potential for new friendships.
The jury is still out on whether or not this whole pedometer/FitBit thing is a good idea for me. I do feel a sense of accomplishment when I’ve done a crap-ton of steps in one day, but I’m getting better at not being too disappointed when my step count is low. You know what? Life gets in the way sometimes, and I’m okay with that. So I had to work, and my daughter was sick, and other things took priority, and so, no, I didn’t have a chance to exercise and the after-dinner walk didn’t happen that day, and we all survived and I’ll just see what happens tomorrow.
What do you think? Do you use a FitBit or pedometer and find it helpful in making you more aware of your movement? Are you able to use it in a mindful way, or do you find yourself getting obsessive? I’d love to hear your thoughts!