I gave up my Fitbit.

About three weeks or a month ago, I was standing in the kitchen at work and my bracelet broke. But, you see, it wasn’t merely a bracelet. It was one of the custom Fitbit bracelets my husband made me.

I slipped it into my pocket where the old Fitbit Flex could at least continue to track my steps and continued my day.

When I got home, I relayed the catastrophe to my husband. The next day, he fixed it. He fixed it while I was at work. My Fitbit broke on Saturday and I went to work Sunday without it.

Sunday is the first day of the week. This whole week would be “under” since I missed a day. I couldn’t “make up” those steps. I’d spend the whole week below my Fitbit friends in the rankings when I knew I had more steps than that.

So I challenged myself to take the week off.

It took until Thursday for someone to email and ask me if my Fitbit died. I’m really surprised that no one emailed or called my husband to see if I had died.

By the weekend, I didn’t miss it.

I’ve been wearing my Fitbit for more than two years. My Fitbit story is NOT the usual Fitbit story. I needed to lose ten pounds. I had some health issues that led to me gaining weight and I needed to lose about ten pounds. I was 39 and thought I had to do it now because the next decade historically is not kind to women in my family.

Well, when you walk a mile every hour at work, and suddenly cut carbohydrates, increase protein, remove junk food from your diet, give up alcohol and fancy coffee drinks… And decide to bike with your daughter, box in the garage and lift weights… Those ten pounds come off easily.

One month later, I had lost thirty pounds.

Oops.

I bought a Fitbit to make sure I ate enough for my increase in activity. And then when I understood how much food and what food my body needed, I kept wearing it because I liked the step goals. I loved seeing the charts and the impact. But then I started to know without looking. So, then my focus turned to my sleep habits. Now that I never mastered. My sleep habits stink. I’m a mom, after all.

I lost my drive for a lot of my activities. I used to roam the neighborhood for miles, do walks in new towns, even tried to run a 5K. I used to lift hard every day. I used to kick box and do yoga. But suddenly, my soul got tired.

Maybe it was stress.

I had regained about 15 pounds of that thirty lost, and it needed to return. It returned as muscle. I went from underweight and bony to muscular enough to toss forty pound boxes around in the freezer at work. I can carry a 35-pound of popcorn kernels on my shoulder across the entire store. I can do push-ups and chin-ups.

I have visible abs.

I don’t have wiggly arms.

So WHY did I stress myself out if I didn’t hit five miles a day? Why did I feel guilt if that number hovered around 10,000 steps? Why did I hate myself if I sat?

Even one “rest day” would drive me insane.

And the only time I watched a movie was if the battery died.

So, I’m glad I gave up my Fitbit.

Fitbit… I love you but I think you’re no good for me

Two years ago I had an unfortunate accident at work. I broke my right hand and spent my winter in a different job which requires less movement and I ate every piece of junk food I could get my hands… Hand… on.

I returned to full duty ten pounds overweight and so weak I couldn’t break apart the soda nozzles at the end of my shift.

I had a visit with my nurse practitioner two weeks before my annual physical and the numbers on the scale were higher than they were on the day I brought my newborn daughter home from the hospital. 

At first I just wanted to lose a couple pounds to show the doctor I had the situation under control. I’m not a big girl, so ten pounds hangs heavy on my frame even though I’m lucky that I gain weight evenly across my whole body.

But then I couldn’t get my thighs in my pants.

I had just turned 38 and I knew I had to shed the weight before I turned 40. 

I started counting calories, going for walks and bike rides and returned to weight training which I had done periodically since college.

I lost 30 pounds in six weeks. Oops. 

I am probably the only person on the planet who bought a Fitbit to make sure I eat enough. I had no idea how active I really was.

I’ve gained about 10-12 pounds back, over the course of two years, but my body has dropped dress sizes as the weight comes back as muscle. 

I’ve stopped counting calories. But I still have the Fitbit, and I love it, except for the fact that everyone is constantly challenging me. I work retail so I cover a lot of ground. People I know on Fitbit use me as their challenge but it stresses me out to “have” to keep ahead of them– especially since I know they’re using me as a success benchmark.

My goal is seven miles a day, so if I have a lazy day and only reach four or gasp three miles, I feel guilty.

I even monitored Fitbit when I broke my ankle this fall.

At this point I know my body’s needs and I can estimate how many steps I take on a day. So do I need Fitbit?

It’s nice to be held accountable but sometimes it’s too much of an obsession or strain. 

New Beginnings: Grad School & Life in a ‘Boot’

I’ve always believed that life has a way of keeping people in balance. Some people lament that life can never be easy, or that whenever things are going well it means something must go wrong.

I believe that if you act too smug or confident, the universe will smack you.

My part-time job is in retail, working in the café for a certain retailer associated with the colors red and khaki. I have worked for them for five years. It’s the perfect job when you’re working your way through school and/or trying to raise a family and be an active part of your child’s life. And the discount and other perks rock.

That’s detail one in my current tale. Detail two relates to fitness and health. I have cerebral palsy. I’m not getting any younger. When I broke my hand last winter, I lost all strength on my right side. This scared me. I gained something ridiculous like 15 pounds. This didn’t upset me until I could no longer fit my thighs in my pants.

And finally three: I start grad school today, at West Chester University, a 90-minute drive from my home.

These items set the stage for Monday. On Monday, I was preparing for a crazy week. Work 3-8:30 Wednesday, cash office and café at work Thursday 7-3:30, then rush to a class that starts at 5:50, get home about ten, and work noon to 8:30 in the café Friday. Husband works overtime all weekend. I have a picnic and 10k hike through the woods Saturday and a potential road trip to walk on Sunday.

Then this happened:

  
This is what happened Monday.

I moved all the furniture out of the living room, scrubbed the floors and put everything back. I went to the gym for a fitness orientation. They had to keep “upping” my weights because they underestimated me– good feeling! I have a body fat percentage of 21.8 which puts me in the excellent category for the 35-39 age range. 

I came home, and in an effort to get my daughter to move more, suggested the family walk to dinner. I was hungry for a salad and didn’t have fresh greens here.

3/4 of a mile from home, I tripped and twisted my ankle. My husband went home for the car. My daughter kept me company. We took photos of my wounds.

  
We drove to the restaurant. It was closed on Mondays. So we went to the Chinese buffet. After heading to the restroom to wash the blood off my hands and arms, I gathered my food and headed to the table.

When we went to leave, my foot hurt worse but only when I moved my foot a certain way. We went to Patient First.

Turns out I had a closed lateral fracture of the malleolous. Or a broken angle. Imagine a horizontal crack across the bottom of my fibula in the front of my leg. 

  
The next day, I visited my primary care physician for painkillers after the pain kept me up most of the night. Then I went to the Ortho yesterday.

He said with my reputation for clumsiness, a boot would be better than a cast because if I fall in a cast, my ankle would be fine but I’d break a knee or screw up my whole leg. So, boot it is.

  
But I can’t drive.

I had emailed my West Chester professor, and she said I could come late to class tonight. My husband has said that he’ll drive me but there’s no way he can leave work early. 

I returned to work today, in cash office, but can’t do my café duties with a broken foot. They may find me another work center if the store is busy enough… But it’s alarming to go from about 55 hours in the current pay period to ten. I am so grateful for my cash office shifts. 

So wish me luck. At school and with the ankle. 

Time to Go for a Walk

After breaking my hand last winter in the midst of a multi-year gradual weight gain, I embarked on a fitness journey late June 2014. 

Some of the changes in my lifestyle (dedication to at-home weight training) stemmed from personal need– I had no strength in my right hand after my injury and favored the left side of my body. 

But some, like bike riding, came from the people in my life. Give a ten-year-old a bike and that child can run you into exhaustion. Two people heavily influenced my dedication to walking.

I work retail and walk about a mile an hour. I really don’t need any more steps. My friend Gayle walks all kinds of places and she has inspired me to use the car less. I have a goal in life to live somewhere that doesn’t require a car. My husband hopes that will be in an urban American environment and not some hut in a developing region in Africa.

The other inspiration for my walking efforts is my traveling companion, M. He is tall. I am short and have even shorter legs. His stride is way longer than mine so when we travel I have to work hard to keep up with him.

We leave for Russia in less than four weeks. More about that later.

Gayle has a walking blog and she posted this a couple weeks ago: National Walking Day. To celebrate, I decided to walk to do my morning errands. I clocked almost 2.5 miles and got the opportunity to reflect on how sadly “unwalkable” many areas are.

I live in a town attached to the city that happens to be the county seat. I walked a half mile down the main street that serves both municipalities. This street passes into a third municipality and intersects another main road in a commercial area. The sidewalk ends for about a block in front of a now empty factory (where I’m sure many employees had to use the bus). 

The sidewalk resumes under the major highway, but you have to cross the entrance ramp for said highway to reach the commercial plaza where I was headed. I needed to have my photo taken for my new drivers license.

There’s always that one guy who never uses his blinker and almost runs you over. Because there’s no light, only a yield.

But I made it.

 

That’s an insanely boring picture, I know. It was 30-something and the center/DMV had two minutes before it opened. 

 

 

I took my place in line. I was #3 for photos. Took about ten minutes.

  

I rewarded myself with an egg sandwich and bought the family a dozen bagels. 

 

The whole adventure took about an hour and fifteen minutes. 

Good doesn’t matter

Like any human, I have good days and bad. This weekend was hard for me. Blame hormones. A sick cat. Family members who don’t see eye to eye with me. Whatever you like. Reality is… Such is life.

I have been focusing a lot of time and energy on diet and exercise recently, but today (and yesterday) I couldn’t bring myself to lift my weights or go for a walk. Instead, I went to Dunkin Donuts. Had a 250+ calorie iced coffee and not one but two donuts. Some people get drunk, I prefer a sugar high. It didn’t work.

So I talked to some friends. Thanks to them, I felt more myself. My family challenged me to the first day’s training session from the app “Couch to 5K” (C25K). We did it. As a family. Now I can eat something small for dinner and not feel badly.

Looking over some of my notes from today I am reminded once again that the things that make you feel accomplished are those achievements outside your comfort zone: going for a run when you don’t think you have the physical strength, tap dancing when you’re really awful at it…

Or for me, even fashion illustration. And sharing it with the world. My fiction manuscripts are set in the high fashion world (and oddly enough, Francophone Africa). I have always designed dresses and clothes for the characters.

I am not an artist. But, while feeling poorly today, I designed the dress in the photograph. It’s worn by a French woman who marries a half-French, half Issa-Somali Muslim man from Djibouti. She’s a trouble maker who lost her left leg (and some other body parts) to an IED in Afghanistan.

Doughnuts might not be good for me. I might not draw well. I must look like an idiot running around my local park. But today, these things soothed me.IMG_1262.JPG

Fitness, Fitbits and Coconut Water

Cross-posted from my food blog: Angel Food Cooking http://bit.ly/1kOiLUT

My food blog typically shares recipes, culinary experiments and food musings.

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I have not been indulging in much cooking lately because I have been eating boring items as I bring my weight and general health back into line.

Salad, fresh fruit, lots of water and no more sweets have been the norm. And it’s worked. I’ve shed between ten and fifteen pounds. Now my goal shifts to gaining muscle, strength, endurance and flexibility. I have health issues and I’m not getting younger.

So, I started walking, biking, doing 20-minute yoga routines, stretching and doing my physical therapy routines, lifting weights and punching the bag in my garage… Something… Every day.

Having a child helps this. When you say, “What are we going to do today?” you get ideas & someone to hold you accountable.

I use myfitnesspal to track my calories, mapmyfitness for cute little maps of distance activities, talabata lite to time intervals, freepedometer to track steps during housework & my job and I have a weight lifting one too. But I thought this was getting neurotic of me.

So I made myfitnesspal my “homebase,” linked my mapmyfitness and bought a fitbit flex. Yup. A fitbit.

After that crazy breakfast and sending my daughter to her grandparents, I suited up with my laptop and my wallet for a morning walk. I planned on stopping at the corner market for sparkling mineral water as a bribe for myself and at the library. I had to head to the library to sync my fitbit as I don’t have internet at home and my iPhone 4 is a dinosaur with no ‘low energy Bluetooth’ capabilities.

Coconut water starts here…

I headed to the corner store and they didn’t have sparkling water as the neighborhood is more Hispanic than European. I tried coconut water, as coconut water has calcium just like mineral water.

My friend Gayle has a fitness challenge where she pushes herself to try new things, I may start a food challenge…

I gagged after the first three sips. Lightly syrupy yet water with chunks of coconut and sweet yet not… Weird. But I kept walking and got thirsty. Tried another sip. Not appealing but not bad.

I continued this every five minutes for a half an hour.

Verdict: weirdly refreshing and staved off dehydration. Still don’t like the chunks. Spit them out. Would certainly do it again for something different and not fake like sports drinks. Cannot chug it.

Would be delicious as a smoothie base… Or with pineapple juice and light rum…