The exam had gone extremely well. Dr. Grewal scribbled notes, nodded frequently, and made satisfied “uh-huh” noises, indicating that I was in perfect health and would live to 107. But I began to sense that something was not quite right as she sat at her little desk, spinning the dials on a cardboard wheel. Finally she looked up and delivered the bad news, “You could lose some weight.”
She said it nicely and in an encouraging manner. But what I heard was, “Cathy. You’re fat.”
It’s not that she was telling me something I didn’t know. Since the birth of my third child, I’d taken stabs at losing weight, dieting with Weight Watchers, Scarsdale and Atkins. I’d lose a few pounds, buy a smaller pair of jeans, and then in a month or two, I’d send them off to Goodwill.
This time I decided to try the other half of the weight loss equation – exercise. I vowed to get serious and get physical.
First, I returned to a sport I had loved and was pretty good at…tennis. I bought some beautiful clothes, hoped they’d fit better soon, and joined a local team. When our captain asked what I’d like to play, I answered without hesitation, “Singles, of course.” Old ladies play doubles.
In the years since I’d picked up a racquet, the competition had gotten blonder and younger. I assumed the receiving position on my side of the court and watched helplessly as balls whizzed by. I managed to return a few from time to time, but at the end of our love-6 set, my opponent gently asked if I was alright. What her eyes were saying was, “Should I call an ambulance?”
Next stop on the fitness express – yoga. Goodwill got my tennis clothes and I bought some great new outfits, imagining my future Jennifer Aniston-like yoga butt. I found a convenient class and headed off with my mat tucked firmly under my arm. We started by sleeping, I mean relaxing, on the floor and I thought to myself that this was a lovely form of exercise.
Then there was some twisting, turning, and bending on the floor that went pretty well. Next, we stood up. And no matter how hard I concentrated and tried to empty my mind, my tree would topple and I couldn’t manage to salute the sun. I grabbed the wall or tumbled over, breaking the zen-like atmosphere in the room.
Heading home was difficult, especially since I was trying to balance an ice cream cone while steering. Was this it? Was I doomed to end my days wearing unflattering elastic pants?
Then I discovered the American Heart Association’s walking site. They recommended getting 10,000 steps a day. I thought that sounded reasonable since walking is something I do every day, right? I bought a simple Fitbit pedometer and wore it for a few days to get a sense of my activity level. I was active. About as active as a clam. I started parking in a lot away from my office. My steps increased. I added a lap or two around the neighborhood in the evening. Again, more steps. And on the weekends, I made it a point to head to Rockland Lake to tread the entire 3-mile path. Soon I was averaging 10,000 steps a day; my clothes got bigger, my legs grew stronger and my appetite diminished.
By my next physical I’d dropped 22 pounds. It turns out I didn’t need a special diet or fancy clothes to get in shape, just a good pair of sneakers, a snappy playlist and a soul that lives to ramble. I guess Olivia Newton-John was right all along.
P.S. If you’re a David Sedaris fan, check out his recent essay in the New Yorker about his misadventures with the Fitbit – it’s hysterical.
Wonderful! This is inspiring. My own Fitbit has been recording only my lack of activity, so maybe this will get be back on track. Thank you!
What works for me is segmenting my 10,000 steps during the week. Grabbing a solid hour is next to impossible, but 10 minutes, here and there, is doable.
My fitbit shows me all over the place. Some days 2k and others close to the goal. When on vacation in NYC I was logging close to 20k each day – wow!
I love to explore destinations by foot. It’s the only way to really SEE a new place. And New York’s wonderfully walkable, right?
Well, David Sedaris certainly threw down the gauntlet! Hilarious — thank you!! I’ve had a Fitbit since February 22, 2010 and my all-time best day is only 18,333. I’m off to pick some litter and log some steps this very afternoon!
Have you finished for the day? How’d you do? BTW, hilly steps count double in my Fitbit world.
A friend lost 30, basically, by walking. A lot of Weight Watchers in my area are older and did it the same way (tennis, no one?). Kudos!
After your second paragraph I thought, “Why doesn’t she just start walking, a little bit today, a little more tomorrow…”
…and then she did! Thanks for visiting!