In the end I could blame Sue for posting the article or David Sedaris for writing it. And since Sue is my friend and David Sedaris is someone I’ll probably never meet, I choose him. Yes, in the end, the whole thing is David Sedaris’s fault.
We live across the street from my friend Melanie, who has been my friend for almost 25 years. Soon enough, 25 years will be half my life, so I have known Melanie for a long time. A mutual friend, a running and tennis coach, introduced us. I had started running a few months earlier and was enjoying how fast my 25 year old body went from running 10 minute miles to running 8 minute miles, and Paul thought running with Melanie and her group in Overton Park would be just the thing for me.
In the fall of 1999, a few months after we moved back to Memphis, Bernard and I met Mel and her husband at Zoo Rendezvous (fundraiser food & drink fest), and we re-established our friendship. A couple of years later, with Mel’s help, we found a house on her street which was on the market for a bargain price, and we bought it because A) I had never seen the movie The Money Pit, and B) another family was trying to outbid us.
Anyway, we live across the street from Melanie, with whom I’ve now shared almost 25 years of road races, hill repeats, tennis matches, dinner parties, drinks on the porch, holidays, and all manner of neighborhood gossip.
The week after Christmas I was walking one of the dogs around the block, and Mel called to me from her porch: “Jennifer, you have got to have one of these things!” She waved her arm, flashing her new black rubber wristband. “What is it?” I asked. She proceeded, excitedly, to tell me about her birthday present, a Fitbit. “Oh my God!” she added, “as competitive as you are – it is MADE for you!”
She was so kind to think of something I might enjoy. But I don’t know where she got the idea that I am competitive.
A few months ago we went to Rochester, MN to visit my sister (Auntie Doctor Margaret, to my children). It was snowing and too cold to do much other than incubate cabin fever the way only six children under one roof can breed cabin fever. After a day and a half, I grabbed Margaret, told our husbands they were in charge of the kids and headed out for a walk in the still cold but now sunny Minnesota spring.
We’d been out for about 45 minutes and were around the corner from her house when Margaret said we needed to go one more time around the block. “I need to get to 10,000 steps – it’s been DAYS since I hit it.”
“10,000 steps,” she said, showing off her Fitbit bracelet. “Seriously, you don’t have one of these? As competitive and techno-geeky as you are?”
Techno-geek, yes. I don’t know why she thinks I am competitive.
In June my friend Sue, who’s usually looking chic hiking a panoramic view in the Hudson Valley and seldom wasting time on social media, posted the link to this article, “Living the Fitbit Life,” by David Sedaris. Her reason for posting the link had absolutely nothing to do with an affection for the Fitbit, but I read the whole thing because, really, what’s the point of picking through an article just to read the one part that’s personally relevant (Maja and the cow, dear God…).
“Ok, I surrender,” I said to my sister on the phone later that day. “Even David Sedaris has a Fitbit.”
Not that I need to keep up with David Sedaris.
My Fitbit arrived on a Tuesday. Wednesday morning I strapped on the bright orange band and set up my dashboard and downloaded the app on my phone and set off on my day.
Once I got to work, I reminded myself to take the stairs and took the long way to the ladies’ room because, really, how far could 10,000 steps be?
By 5:15 I had taken 3129.
“You’re taking the dog for a walk?” Bernard asked at 6:05.
“Yeah. It’s such a nice night out.”
6:18 – 4652 steps.
6:20 – “You’re taking the other dog? Why didn’t you just take them together?”
“I thought maybe they’d enjoy some time alone, and, really, it’s such a nice night.”
6:34 – 6178 steps.
6:35 – text to my sister: “Why the hell doesn’t this thing just come out and say ‘LAZY FAT-ASS‘ instead of mocking me with this silent step count?”
6:36 – text from my sister: “Yeah, reality is a bummer.”
By the end of the first week I figured out the only way to hit 10,000 steps was to go for a long walk, every day. This was completely unhelpful because if I had 45 minutes to walk every day I would already be doing it, with or without a damn Fitbit.
Not to worry, though, because my daughter, seeing my dilemma, helped me figure out that walking around the kitchen island four times and then up and down the staircases (front and back) twice, and around to the laundry room three times equals 846 steps, which is about what I lack by the end of the day now that I take the stairs at work and walk the dog around the block when I go home for lunch and pace annoyingly during meetings instead of sitting in a chair.
It’s so sweet that my daughter wants to help me, and I love that she has a feisty, competitive spirit. She must get that from Bernard.
Last week, after three weeks of Fitbit tracking, I had to go to Chicago for a work meeting, two days in a conference room discussing metrics and business analytics.
The Sunday before my trip, I hit 15,000 steps. Since I’d been reaching 10,000 on a regular basis and had those extra 5000, a couple of days sitting in a conference room wouldn’t really be so bad. And the whole 10,000 step thing wasn’t really important to the meeting, so it really didn’t matter that I’d miss a couple of days.
Of course, on the other hand, my flight was scheduled to land at 9:45, and we were meeting in the O’Hare Hilton. If I timed it right, I should have just enough time to walk through the tunnel, check in, get to the fitness center, work out, shower and change before the meeting started. Between the walk through the airports and the workout, I could be at 10,000 steps by 1:00, no problem. If that were important.
For extra efficiency, I wore my workout clothes on the plane. We landed on time, and I headed for the hotel with my small carry-on in hand. I checked in, dumped my bags behind door 7063, and booked it to the fitness center. 50 minutes later (9647 steps) I was back in my room with just enough time to clean up and get to my meeting where I would do nothing but sit in a chair for the rest of the day, which was just fine because I was almost at the finish line, victory in sight.
Yes, everything was going great, right up to the moment I realized that despite having packed everything I would need to hit 10,000 steps (including the Fitbit charger), I’d neglected to pack a bra.
As I stood in the bathroom frantically waving the tiny Conair blow dryer to dry my gray sports top (which looked super professional under my wide-necked dress), the Fitbit lit up and vibrated to indicate I’d reached 10,000 steps.
If the Fitbit could talk, it would definitely say #winning.
Food | Week of July 28, 2014
This week’s market harvest included eggs, fresh onions, basil, cabbage, peppers, tart apples, cucumbers and tomatoes (of course). There’s no better way to take advantage of all the fresh produce (or to keep dinner time ultra easy and simple) than to use Mark Bittman’s classic Recipes for 101 Simple Salads. Here are a few I think are particularly good (and, as all of these are, easily adaptable):
- #26 – Broiled mushrooms and red onion over watercress
- #28 – Mache shoots with slivered almonds and figs
- #35 – Black beans with fresh cabbage
- #50 – Puttanesca-style egg salad (don’t knock it until you’ve tried it)
- #60 – Tuna salad (canned works fine) with apples and grapes
- #64 – Smoked fish with thinly sliced cucumbers
- #95 – Couscous over greens
One other idea that’s not on this list but that’s similar is to mix a can of chickpeas (drained and rinsed) with a pint of fresh pico de gallo from a local Mexican market. Serve with some grilled tortillas and avocado to round it out, or grilled chicken if you just can’t go meatless.
Super easy, super summer.
I am sitting in Portland waiting for my mom to get her hair done. Opened your post, expecting as always to enjoy it and ended up laughing my — off! I love it!
Sent from my iPhone
Thanks, Mel! Safe travels. We’ll toast some Sauvignon blanc when you get back. Surely there will be at least 100 steps in a porch/wine drinking festivity….
spot on! My fitbit friends have the same rabid frenzy..well written ( as usual) and deeelightful! Rewards are big stuff…even if it does come from a piece of plastic w/ little lights on it! You go gurrrrl!
Thanks! Orange plastic, in my case. Because, you know, why not orange?
Loved the David Sedaris article, too! I’ve been futzing with a Fitbit post for weeks. Something about Sisyphus, the Fitbit and Motherhood. Because as my times as we go from the laundry room to the kitchen island via the stairs to roll our stone up the mountain, there has got to be someone or someTHING counting the steps. And now there is. 😉
Something about your posts always just breathe. I love reading them and breathing right along.
Yes, the three great Sisyphean tasks: writing, motherhood, and Fitbit. Can’t wait to read your take on them. Thanks for the kinds words; I feel the same about your writing and am so glad to have found your blog. Happy paddling.
Ha! I heard Sedaris on NPR talking about that piece. I don’t think I want to know how few steps I take. I thought about buying one for my (much more active) husband, but I really don’t want to hear about it every day as I know I would. 😉
You’ll be better off (happier) sitting on the couch re-reading Sedaris’s books, I promise!
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