Saturday, March 15, 2014
For a while (from about June 2013 to Feb 2014) I was the number one "stepper" on FitBit for New Hampshire and also at or near the top for the NH Spark Group in both points and fitness minutes. I also had some pretty impressive Spark streaks going.
That was then, this was now.
A couple of monkey wrenches came my way. Or maybe some monkeys on my back would be a better image. The first was that I got sucked into caring about whether I was number one in steps or not. I got a lot of positive feedback for turning in those numbers. Earlier this year I was averaging about 30,000-35,000 steps a day. People frequently told me how much I was inspiring them.
I really liked that what I was doing was helping others by inspiring them. I believe that we are community here on Spark and I certainly have drawn lots of inspiration from all of you. I seriously mean that, and so I was glad to be able to return the favor in some small way.
However, I was losing sight of the fact that I came here to make permanent healthy changes in my eating, in my exercise, in the way I deal with stress and other areas. I didn't come here to be an inspiration. And at some point, through nobody's fault except my own (I want to be clear about that point) I let getting the step numbers become an end in itself.
It is basically an all-day-everyday-task for me to post around 35,000 steps a day. That burns a lot of calories but I know that fitness is more than burning lots of calories. I knew that I was in trouble when I starting having internal conversations with myself like the following:
Me 1: I haven't done strength training in a while. I should go to the gym and lift some weights.
Me 2: But if you lift weights for an hour you won't hit your step goal.
Me 1 (reluctantly): oh yeah. I guess your right.
There are all kinds of things that I do that are important healthy practices that don't give me a lot of steps. Things such as Tai Chi (it's in my name for goodness sake!), yoga, and lifting weights. When I felt reluctant to do those, I knew things were getting out of control.
I also began to feel that I was spending way too much time on SparkPeople. There is a paradox here: I know from past bitter experience that if I leave SparkPeople for a while, then sooner or later I will slip back into my old evil ways. I've even seen it happen to people who were "official Spark success stories." So I'm committed to being a "lifer" on this site. I need the reminders to keep on keeping on, and the mutual support.
However, that being said, I found that I was doing something similar here that I was doing with my step count. Each day, I did all the things that you can do here: reading, checking, commenting, clicking, and so on. And each day I got the maximum points that I could get for that day (subject to whims of the spins). But I was also spending more than an hour a day - sometimes much more than an hour a day - to do so and that was simply too much time on the computer. I have a wife, a job, friends, and other obligations ... not to mention all those steps.
Things that started out to be really good for me had turned into monkeys on my back.
My escape began a few weeks ago when my wife and I went to NYC to see our niece in a gymnastics competition. Because of travel and other reasons, I was away from both SparkPeople and what I'll call mega-stepping.
When I got back, I was no longer #1 in NH in steps. And I was happy about it. And I learned that I have made permanent changes in my activity and I'll never go back to the way I was: when I got my first pedometer I was shocked that I was doing only 3-4,000 steps a day. But I'm fine with anything over 10,000 and I think a daily goal for me is 20,000. That's what I aim for now, but I'm okay about days when I don't make that.
And I'm still here too. I can't stay away completely, 'cause I care about some of you a lot and because this site also helps me stay on course. But I'm less visible now, because I only come in for a few minutes each day. I still want to maintain the friendships I've started here (and some of us have walks/hikes/cups of coffee) planned for our futures. So I'm not going anywhere.
But all things in moderation is my motto these days. Steps, diet, weights, yoga, tai chi, dance and just staring at my wife wondering how I got to be so lucky.
That's how I got the monkeys off my back.
~ Tai Chi Dancer
P.S. Some of you saw my earlier update. My wife's aunt - who raised her from the time she was 8 until her teens - is dying. So my wife is hopping on a plane to Russia soon for a couple of weeks. Because of my teaching and the difficulty of getting a visa to Russia, I will be staying here. Some of you have sent little notes expressing your sympathy and my wife wanted to let you know that we are grateful.