Not immune to the gloom (but stepping it up)

Stairs

It’s been raining for weeks.

WEEKS. Not being dramatic. We had a rare respite yesterday with a 70-degree day and sunshine, but aside from that? RAIN. Rain every day. Every. single. day.

Though I spend almost the entire day indoors, I’m not immune to the gloom. Our office moved to a high-rise in March with a large expanse of windows (natural light, thank goodness), but my view now? Clouds. Gray clouds. Pouring rain.

As it is for many folks, I’m sure, the weather can definitely set the tone for the day.

Especially when I am, for the first time in ages, wanting to move.

In my Christmas stocking last year was a pedometer — a gift from my parents I embraced with gusto. As a competitive person obsessed with numbers and tracking, it was so interesting to see how much — or, in my case, how little — I walked each day.

For Mother’s Day, Oliver (er, Spencer) surprised me with my humble pedometer’s sleek older sibling: the FitBit One, which links to an app that gives me graphs and charts of my activity each day. Charts! For an English major, I get stupidly excited about graphs, man. And having a tangible way to map my progress as I try to move more each day has been really gratifying. And fun.

My step-count is nothing to get excited about. While the American Heart Association recommends walking 10,000 steps a day, I’ve crossed that finish line once since January. I make a concentrated effort to take the stairs at work, take breaks in the afternoons, even force myself to make an extra lap around the building before I head in the front door.

During our short-lived reunion with the sun yesterday, I actually took a 20-minute walk along the meandering sidewalks outside our building: an extra 1,400 steps.

But on an average day, I’m still doing about 4,000-5,000 steps — well shy of the 10,000 step goal.

Purely for selfish reasons, I recently researched how to add steps to your work day for a feature in our health magazine. SparkPeople had some great tips, and this one was my favorite:

“Be Inefficient. We are all so busy that it makes sense to multitask, combining several errands in a single trip, ordering takeout from the computer we’re already sitting in front of, or carrying that armload of clothes + toys + shoes + toilet paper upstairs in a single trip.

While technology has made a lot of things easier on us, what if you deliberately tried to be inefficient — any time it involved being on your feet. On days that I know I’ve been less active, I choose to be inefficient as a way to get more activity in while getting my daily chores or work done. For example, I’ll carry the laundry downstairs in three smaller trips instead of one oversized basket, or pick up and put away one item in the house at a time instead of filling my arms in an efficient way.

Although it can be difficult to justify taking more time to do basic things when you’re busy, I justify it to myself by thinking of it as multitasking: I’m getting activity in at the same time as my chores.”

I’m the person half-collapsed under a pile of grocery bags because I hate having to make two trips from the car, so this? This spoke to me. Spoke to my essence of very being. In the morning, I often come close to wrenching my back out because I carry my purse, laptop bag, lunch bag, Oliver’s bottles and the car seat out before I come back for the baby.

And you know what that is? Crazy.

I’m getting better. Thinking more. Being conscious of how little I normally move, how much better I feel with some activity and enjoying the ripple effect of wanting to eat better when I’m doing better with my movement.

Just wearing the FitBit is a huge motivator for me: knowing I’m earning a few extra steps (and credit for the stairs!) when I have to haul my rump back up for another diaper or my misplaced cell phone makes me . . . well, less irritable, actually.

And maybe that was Spencer’s plan all along. πŸ˜‰


Any favorite tricks or tips for moving more during your day?
Spill your secrets. We’re all friends here!


Advertisements

19 thoughts on “Not immune to the gloom (but stepping it up)

  1. We had a rainy summer like that a few years ago and it was the worst. This week is supposed to be like that here and I just hate it. Carl and I walked in the rain this morning. I’m very inefficient so I get lots of daily steps.

    • I just might have to walk in the rain, too, Kathy. Now that I’ve found a shred of momentum, I hate to lose it!

  2. I constantly find myself doing circuits of the house, picking up toys and then taking them back to where they should be living (not my sitting room!). It’s amazing where toys find to hide. I can do about five trips back and forth because I keep seeing rooms from different angles as I go by and… finding more toys. Perhaps the kids are hiding them on purpose to make me move more… And when did the kids get so many toys anyway? πŸ™‚

    • Haha — I love that, Nicola, and definitely relate. Even though Oliver is only now becoming mobile, that kid has an excellent throw! I find his Little People under the coffee table, wedged in the couch, tossed from the high chair behind cabinets . . . it’s a thing. Thanks for the great idea!

  3. I got a fitbit for my birthday and like you, I love it! Friday was the first day I hit 10K steps and when I did, you would have thought I hit the lottery! I was so excited. One thing I’ve started doing to help get in more steps when I’m at the office is taking the stairs every time I need a bathroom break (and if you’re increasing your water intake you may hit the stairs more often then you think). I work on the ground floor of a 4 story office building but the stairs are really close to the bathrooms…so every time I head to the ladies room, I take a few extra minutes to hit the stairs. It’s so worth it! If you need motivation, grab a coworker and go!

    • Yay, Karen — I would definitely celebrate after hitting 10K! Love the idea of taking the steps throughout the day. We have a water fountain on the ground level of our three-story building, so I will start trying to refill down there (and head back up) throughout the day. Anything to sneak in some extra steps. I even told my coworkers that I’m trying to walk more — just so they don’t think I’m crazy when they see me doing “laps” down the hall. Haha!

  4. I love my fitbit one but despite walking the kids to and from school everyday it can still be tough to reach my 10,000 steps. I find any excuse to go up and down stairs and will usually resort to walking round my house reading a book at the end of the day.

    • I took your advice and walked while reading last night! Gained me about 400 steps before I just decided I needed to crash for the evening, but every little bit helps. It is hard to hit 10,000, for sure . . . I’m going to start aiming smaller — just 5,000 a day — and work my way up from there. Given I’m lucky to even do 5,000, that’s a more attainable goal for right now!

  5. That inefficiency thing is actually a very good suggestion and one I’ve never thought about! I, too, carry 800 things out with me to the car each day including the baby, the dog, my lunch, my gigantic purse, etc. Maybe multiple trips would be better? πŸ™‚

    • Despite my hatred of multiple trips, Steph, I do like the suggestion, too! And hey: it’ll be much easier on our backs. Hauling a 28-pound kid around is no small feat, so I’m trying to go easier on myself and have been taking less stuff out at once each day. Bonus steps!

    • Thanks, Grace! It’s been a strange month, no doubt. The unofficial kick-off to summer is next weekend, and I don’t even feel like we’ve had much of a spring!

  6. Loved the post. Be glad to know you are in good company with the 4-5k steps. My goal is 6k the very few times it hit 10k+ was a day full of errands and shopping. My Fitbit gives me energy to do one more walk around the house to put something away or get up to get a drink, etc.
    here is one of my tricks – passed down to me – look at the steps before getting ready for bed and hit the next rounded number. Walk while brushing teeth, etc.

    • Love that suggestion — thank you! I didn’t think about taking steps rather than standing in place while doing everyday activities, like washing dishes and brushing your teeth. Hitting the next rounded number would give you that extra little boost to end the day strong.

  7. I am the same way! If the weather isn’t great, I don’t get my steps in…I love to go for walks outside and that isn’t happening here in PA either. Fingers crossed that the weather gets better soon!

    • So much nicer to walk outside than do laps in your living room, haha! But I guess I need to get over that and just sneak in steps however/wherever I can. With the awful weather the past few weeks, I have resorted to doing circuits on the stairs and up and down the hallway . . . but I know folks are starting to give me funny looks when they see me walk by for the 10th time. Ah, well!

  8. Hey there, I have the Fit Bit Charge, and i love it because they have challenges for the day, week, and weekend. During the day, since i am currently a house wife, I will try to get up and move a few times, there have been times where i am not feeling well, but i usually try to get in at least 2 to 3 on those days. I am not a competitive person, however, having the challenges really gets me motivated to see how close to first I can get. Since we have a dog, when it isn’t raining, my husband and I will take him for a walk when he gets home. I love when you wrote about being inefficient; I feel as American’s we are always in a hurry, and i don’t even think we know why! I have been learning lately I need to just relax and take each day, one minute at a time.

  9. Totally fan of inefficiency here! Well, in the context of moving, I mean. πŸ™‚ I’ve had a FitBit One for a couple of years now and I love it. It really forces me to find opportunities to be more active, which is important for someone who works from home. I intentionally make multiple trips to take care of errands around the house, like putting laundry away or picking up toys. I also sometimes do what I like to call “house walks” usually late at night when I see I’m close to my step goal but not quite there. It basically involves pacing back and forth in the living room while watching a TV show until I hit my step goal for the day. Of course, pacing can get boring, so I mix it up with lunges, knee lifts, side-steps, whatever. Without any effort, I get about 3,000 steps a day working from home so I really have to get creative to hit my goal of 10,000 steps without spending an hour or two on the treadmill.

  10. It’s been really rainy here as well. This week Elle has swim lessons at an instructor’s house, so I’ve loaded up the stroller to take Cara around the neighborhood while we wait. And still…not 10,000 steps by the end of the day. I really struggle on the days that I work–sometimes i’ll sit for TWO HOURS. It’s almost like I need to set a timer on my phone to get up every so often.

    To get extra steps? I pace when I’m brushing my teeth. If I have to get something in the kitchen, I walk around in a circle to get there. If I have to take a load of laundry upstairs for the girls, I’ll make several trips. I try to park a little further away at the grocery store. And sometimes…sometimes I just walk in place. Ha! Even at the office.

    Here’s hoping for a little sun! I need the sun for my mood as well. πŸ˜‰

Comments are closed.