I am step-obsessed.
It all started when I got a new cell phone a few months after moving to Florida. My cell phone was almost five years old, which is apparently unheard of in the modern world. I never replaced the phone for two main reasons:
a) I understood my phone and didn’t want to learn how to operate a new one.
b) It was pink and I love pink.
Right after we moved, the old cell phone revolted. I could hear the other person, but they often could not hear me. I would have to traverse the outer limits of the front yard to try to find a small cell phone sweet spot. Then, I would have to stand very still and scream into the phone to be heard. It was incredibly annoying and drove me to tears of frustration more than once, especially before we had the land line installed. You try calling the electric company to figure out why the power was not on in the house (despite said electric company’s insistence that it was) when they can only hear about every fourth word you say. I’m sure I’m not the only one reduced to tears by the experience.
Because the problem occurred right after we moved, I blamed Florida for the reception of my cell company in our new area. Since Max was getting decent reception and could be heard just fine with his cheapy prepaid cell phone, I realized I was paying a premium for not being heard on my considerably more expensive smart phone. I decided I had to either go visit the cell phone company or become a hermit and cease contacting the outside world.
When I went to the phone company office, they explained to me that a five-year-old cell phone is basically a paperweight with a keypad. Apparently, after some random period of time, the battery actually fails to charge. The battery icon on the phone will look charged, but it doesn’t ever actually hold a charge. The result is that you are always trying to make calls with a battery that is the rough equivalent of a phone you have after being lost in the woods for a few days. Who knew? Those of you who knew that cell phone batteries basically stop working after a couple of years, despite all appearances to the contrary, raise your hands. So it is just me that didn’t know? Okay, I can live with that, but why do they even have a little battery icon that looks charged if it is going to lie like a rug?
At any rate, I ended up buying a new cell phone and the kind man at the store made it work all nice and easy. I immediately noticed how much better the new phone was. Besides the fact that people could, you know, HEAR me when I called them, I now actually had great internet access. I could easily and quickly connect to websites (don’t even get me started on the day I tried to buy Sea World tickets on the old phone as we stood outside the park- I ended up paying $50 more for the tickets than I had to because the stupid phone would not stay connected long enough for me to put in a credit card). Email was fast and I could forward pictures by text or email without having to take a nap while I waited for them to send. I could check IMBD whenever I was at a movie or watching a tv show to figure out just where I had seen that familiar-looking guy before. Any time anyone asked a random question, I pulled out my phone and googled. I’ve always laughed at friends who seem addicted to their phones, but I was beginning to understand the appeal.
Then, I discovered apps. To be honest, I had access to apps on my old phone. I just never really figured out what my password was or how to add apps. Now, with the nice man in the phone company office to help me, I was off to the races. That is where the step obsession started. It all started with a pedometer app.
I’ve tried pedometers before without much success. I’ve either forgotten to wear them or they looked ugly or they didn’t seem to monitor the steps correctly. I’d seen commercials for the new breed of electronic pedometers, but they were fairly pricey and I wasn’t convinced that either the pedometer or I would work consistently enough to merit the cost. I thought that perhaps the pedometer app, which was free, was worth a try.
I’ve read that a good goal for walking is 10,000 steps per day. When I first started using the pedometer app, I was somewhat demoralized to discover that a good day for me was about 2,000 steps. Fortunately, before quitting in despair, I saw an article on the internet that said most people think they walk far more than they actually do. It turns out that 2,000 steps are pretty typical for someone who isn’t necessarily trying to hit a particular goal. I started working purposefully each day to increase my steps. I began hitting the 10,000 fairly regularly quite soon. After a few weeks of that, I read that the 10,000 step goal wasn’t exactly the gold standard of walking. Because different people have different strides, 10,000 steps isn’t really any actual measure of anything. I found that many articles recommended 5 miles a day as the goal, as opposed to 10,000 steps.
Now, for many people, the 10,000 steps and the 5 miles are pretty much the same thing. I, however, have very short legs and walk mostly inside the house in front of the television set (which necessitates shorter steps than walking over a long, uninterrupted stretch of road unless I wish to bump into walls and furniture). For me 5 miles is usually around 11,000 steps. What a rip-off. Here I had been walking 10,000 steps a day in good faith for weeks, but was still a fitness failure! I did not lose heart, though. I increased my goal to 5 miles a day and found myself successful with little extra effort. In fact, there were days when I was walking much more. When we were on vacation, it was not unusual for me to walk 7-10 miles a day.
Another really interesting thing about the pedometer app is that it measures the number of flights of stairs I climb in addition to the steps. I don’t climb a lot of stairs. After all, I live in a one-story house and Florida is the flattest state in the union. I wasn’t even aware of the stair climber feature until one day, after walking around a mall for a little while, I noticed that the pedometer was showing that I had climbed a staircase. I was shocked and suspicious. HOW DID IT KNOW?!!! I didn’t even remember any stairs until I carefully reviewed my actions during the day. Although I had not ascended any significant flight of stairs, I had been up and down a few steps numerous times on my walk. That was just freaky.
I began carrying my phone with me everywhere. I didn’t get out of the car at the mailbox without clutching it to me, so that the few steps I had to travel to get the mail would be captured. When I go from the front of the house to the back to go to the bathroom, the phone comes along. I get really annoyed when I realized I have been doing housework without the phone in my pocket or stuffed in my bra. At one meeting of the book club, I couldn’t find my phone and got panicky because I must have walked at least 50 steps without it. I was distracted through the whole meeting. The other day, I almost cooked my phone when it came loose from its hiding place next to my bosom while I was taking a turkey out of the oven.
People laugh at my obsession with counting the steps. However, it is working. After a month or so of compulsive stepping, I began to notice that my clothes were getting too big. At first, I thought it was my imagination, but when I could feel my shorts slipping down below my hips on a regular basis, I knew it was really happening. When I had to hitch up almost everything I wore every time I moved, I knew I was on to something. I had not consciously changed my diet or anything, but I was definitely losing weight. In all, I’ve lost about 30 pounds since I became step obsessed.
After a few months on my 5-mile-a-day plan, I decided to up the ante. I confess my motivation for doing so was less than pure. Right around the same time Starbuck’s started selling their seasonal gingerbread for the holidays, I decided I had better walk more. I decided that my new goal would be to walk over 5 miles every day and to average at least 6 miles a day on a weekly basis. I’ve been managing an average of about 6.5 miles a day.
Now the holidays are over and more than one or two pieces of gingerbread have found their way into my tummy, but I haven’t gained any weight and my clothes actually feel a bit looser than they did in November. It must have been a step in time.
Have you ever “stepped up to the plate” with some activity and set a goal? Did you become compulsive about whatever the activity was? What was the result? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a great day!