Have you heard about the 10,000 Step Program for weight loss? Apparently, striving to take 10,000 steps per day will get you up off the couch, away from the computer and will transform you into the very picture of svelte vitality.
They don’t need to be brisk steps either, although those are always beneficial. No, they can be baby steps, or steps up the steps, or steps across a parking lot at the farthest distance away from your favorite bagel shop. As long as you get moving. And to help you count how many steps you are taking, because I don’t know about you, but I lose track after a few hundred, you can wear a pedometer on the waistband of your sweatpants that will calculate them for you. “Easy peasy,” I thought, “This will be a cakewalk!” With exercise class three times a week, daily Riley walks, everyday household chores and playing with the dog in the yard a hundred times a day, I thought I’d have it aced!
Day 1 of my 10,000 steps program fell on dance aerobics day. Perfect. Get those steps done first thing in the morning and then I can coast for the rest of the day! Right? Wrong! Ten minutes of warm-up, 30 minutes of cardio, 15 minutes of cool down and 10 minutes working those Abs = ONLY 3,500 steps. WHAT??!!!?? Are you kidding me? I shook the damn pedometer to make sure it was working. It jumped 17 steps, so I reasoned it wasn’t broken. O.K. Clearly this was going to take some serious commitment! Fortunately I had some activities on the calendar! I’d canvas the neighborhood shops for door prizes for our local CARE Walk. Riley and I would do our usual 30 minute afternoon hike. Still had to go to the grocery store, make dinner and run up and down the basement stairs a dozen times doing 2 loads of laundry. By dinner time, I was only up to 7,880. Oh, good grief! “Alright, Riley, we’re going for another walk!” When he saw the leash, he headed for the couch. “Oh, no you don’t, Mister! Mama needs to get her steps in!” I finally managed 10,006 by the time I fell into bed.
Day 2 presented a challenge. Riley goes to day care on Thursdays, so no Walkies for me. But I had two events downtown later, so I parked half way between them. I walked a couple of blocks to my 11:30 meeting in one direction and then headed four city blocks in the opposite direction to go help set up an art auction in a gigantic banquet hall. I spent the next 4 hours schlepping art from one end of this enormous space to the other. By 5:00 I was in the mid-8,000s. Oh, please. Fortunately, I still had to walk to the parking garage, go to the store, fix dinner and walk Riley, so by the end of the day I had reached a personal best of 11,231. The bursitis in my knees started to act up.
Dance aerobics again. Half hour Riley walk. A bit of gardening. More door prize canvassing. Attended the art auction. Wandered around the banquet hall for a few hours. Walked back to the car NOT parked close by. I hadn’t sat down all day. Topped out at 10,037. When I got into bed my legs ached.
Day 4. More gardening. More shopping. More canvassing. Walked Riley all the way to the pet store and back so he could buy a toy and carry it home in his mouth (one of the cutest things he does and a regular Saturday event.) Later, Ken and I toured an Interior Design show house that has 9 bedrooms, six sitting areas and an immense garden. We parked a LONG way away. Took the stupid pedometer off at 9,150 when we got home, flopped on the couch and turned on the TV. My knees screamed.
Could barely get out of bed. Lurched downstairs. My legs felt like blocks. I made a nice breakfast. Had a second cup of tea. Read the paper. Did the Sunday crossword. Loaded the dishwasher. Made the beds. Didn’t get out of my jammies until 11 am. Read some emails and checked Facebook. By lunchtime I was at 1,552. Ken got up early and rode the stationary bike. He took Riley out for an hour. He wore the pedometer on his walk. He came home and checked how many steps: 6,256. That’s about 2 miles. He calculated what this added up to when combined with the 4 miles he did on the bike and declared that he’d accomplished his day’s goal. I just looked at him with my, “That’s nice, dear” look. Later, when I said, “Riley, let’s get your leash!” the dog hid under the dining room table. I didn’t press it. I made another cup of tea and sat down to write this blog.
When I was surfing the net this afternoon, I read a bit about the 10,000 Step Program. Seems some researchers studied a group of machine-shunning, Old Order Amish to see why they were so fit and healthy, in spite of the fact that they ate starchy, cholesterol-laden foods akin to a pre-World War II diet. The scientists figured that it was the amount of activity inherent in hard farm labor that was doing it, so they asked these folks to wear pedometers. You guessed it. They averaged 10,000 steps per day. Walking behind a team of oxen pulling a plow and scrubbing clothes in a wash tub is apparently good for you.
Now, I don’t think becoming Amish is quite the get-fit workout I’ve been looking for. But it seems we need to emulate our agrarian ancestors' activity level in order to earn our potatoes and homemade bread. Yeah, baby! Strap on the pedometer, call me Farmer Lesley and pass the potatoes!