I bought a Fitbit last month, because I wanted to keep track of (and increase) my daily activity. It’s a fascinating bit of machinery, really, for something so darn simple. Basically, it’s a pedometer that also measures your sleep quality. Here are my results, in a nutshell.
I walk a lot.
I sleep a lot better than I thought I did.
Both bits of good news.
With the Fitbit, you get to set a daily goal of how many steps you’re going to try to walk. I think it comes pre-set for 10,000, or else that was suggested or something. I started with that and then bumped myself up to 12,500 when I realized that I was always hitting my goal. Now I’m at 12,500, and I am still always hitting my goal. I think it’s time to bump it up to 15k, but that sounds like a lot so I’m scared.
Now, here’s why I’m writing this. I don’t intentionally exercise. Like, hardly ever. Although my kids and I really enjoy hiking together, and probably do so at least once or twice a week, those are the days when I break 17k, not when I break 12,500. Let me give it to you like this: I’m kinda lazy. I really am. I’m busy; I don’t like sitting around. But I do not aspire to physical greatness. I don’t pop on running shoes and hit the track.
Which means that my 12,500 is just how much I walk in my day. And why do I walk 12,500 when most Americans are, apparently, coming in under 5,000? Because I live in a country that makes it kinda hard to avoid. I live in the center of my little town. Every single thing I need is here, really. I don’t have a car because I don’t need one, but even if I did want one, I’d have nowhere to park the darn thing anyway. No parking lot. I also live on the fourth floor of a walk-up apartment. 100 steps to my door.
If I stay in my little town, which I do probably 5 out of 7 days a week, I get 12,500 steps easy. On the few days I venture out (via bus and subway) I clock many, many more than that. I walk to the bus stop. Walk from the bus stop to the subway. Walk from the subway to my destination. When we first moved here, I was exhausted all the time from all the damn walking. Good lord, I’d think. How the fuck do people do this? Now I’m used to it.
Why am I boring you with this? Because it’s part of my very recent enlightenment regarding weight and obesity. I used to really kind of dislike overweight people. I know that’s not okay to say, but there it is. I used to think, “For the love of all that is holy, would you get off your ass?” Because I know this is a prejudice of mine, I’ve been thinking on it a bit more and trying to not be such a dick.
And this Fitbit thing has helped me. I cannot move very much less than 12k steps a day in this country. I just can’t. To do anything, I need to move my ass. That is not the case in the States. In the States, I walk to my darn car and drive to wherever. The streets of my parents’ town in the States (where I always spend my vacations) are not pedestrian-friendly. Only the homeless and drug-addicted wander the streets. Everyone with any sense drives. Laziness is institutionalized. There isn’t always another option.
In this particular slice of Americana of which I speak, you’d have to be a freaking revolutionary to get 12k steps without hitting the gym. I wouldn’t come close, because I’m (as I mentioned) lazy as balls. I’d go so quickly to the dark side if I had to drive a car to a place so I could walk on a treadmill. It wouldn’t happen. I know this because I lived there for 24 years and it never happened.
And I’m a relatively privileged girl with the world at her damn feet. I don’t have a chronic disease or four kids under four or live in a place of poverty and lack of education. I hit the lotto in the birth department. And I STILL don’t go to the gym. How on god’s green earth do I expect people with a shitton more than I have to care about to pull it off? Add to it that bad food is cheap and good food isn’t, and of course people are fat.
So the next time I get on my high horse about fat, lazy Americans, I’ll hopefully remind myself that I’m freaking lucky to not even have the option of being a fat, lazy American.
Because if I things had shaken out just a little bit differently, I may well have turned out that way.