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Me and my fitbit

- Paulynn Sicam (The Philippine Star) - January 29, 2016 - 9:00am

I’ve been doing a lot of walking lately — determined, purposeful walking. I try to do 10,000 steps a day but I don’t go very far. I just go around and around our small enclave of Mediterranean-style townhouses in the middle of the city in the late afternoon for around for 30 to 45 minutes. Several rounds in the gated village are enough to build up a sweat and accomplish 10,000 steps. If I needed more steps, I’d walk around the house until the tiny contraption on my wrist would start buzzing to tell me I’ve reached my goal. During the day, I walk everywhere — to the bank, the coffee shop, the convenience store, church, seeing the bars in my pedometer light up as I take more steps.

I’ve never been a walker. Once I sit in front of my computer, I find it difficult to get up and exercise. Much as I love doing yoga, I don’t go to my class regularly because it gets in the way of my deadlines. I know, it’s a lame excuse, but I am not really physically inclined. My attempts at learning tennis and going to the gym were met with frustration and failure. The most walking I have managed to do is going idly around air-conditioned malls for retail therapy.

But over the holidays, Edge, my son-in-law gave me a fitbit, a kind of pedometer that comes as an electronic bracelet that measures the number of steps you take in a day, the number of calories you burn, and even how long and how well you sleep at night. Seeing how my children who all wear fitbits were so obsessed with meeting their daily goals, I toyed with the idea of buying myself one as a Christmas present to myself, until I realized I couldn’t afford it. Edge quickly declared that he was going to get me one. He said he wants me to walk so I can be strong and live long.

A friend told me later that this must mean he likes his mother-in-law. At least he isn’t looking forward to my early demise. Still, I felt the pressure. My son-in-law made me promise my fitbit would be more than a fashion accessory.

As a beginner, I programed my fitbit to count 5,000 steps a day, which turned out to be too easy. After a week, I increased it to 8,000 steps, which was still not challenging enough. This week, I am doing 10,000 steps a day, the recommended daily output and a real test of endurance for me.

So far, I’ve been doing quite well for a novice and a senior. The other day, I received my weekly progress report (for Jan. 18 to 24) via email that said I had walked 56,211 steps or an average of 8,000 steps a day, covered a distance of 22.63 miles, and burned 11,233 calories. While this is not a record fitbit veterans would crow about, I am thrilled to have accomplished something concrete.

I’ve lived in my neighborhood for 16 years but I’ve only noticed, now that I am walking, how green our little village is. The giant mango tree in the small playground is abloom and the scrawny atis tree near the village gate will soon be ready for a small harvest. The village also has duhat, santol and star apple trees, some hardwood, a vegetable patch and a bamboo grove. Multi-colored bougainvillea, gumamela, orchids and other flowers grow lush in pocket gardens of our little homes.

I walk in the afternoon when the sun begins to set. The children are out in the street, playing games or riding their bikes. The littler ones are in the playground with their yayas who congregate on the metal swing, chattering and shrieking happily like a flock of birds, as teenage couples huddle together, engrossed in each other and their cell phones.

The dogs are also out, walked by their owners or keepers. I just realized that all the dogs in my neighborhood are pedigreed or at least, of known breeds. All except one — our proud and fierce common Aspin (for Asong Pinoy) whom we call Iced Tea for the color of his coat that evokes the froth of a tall cool glass of, yes, iced tea.

If I wasn’t walking, I would never have realized the urban charm of my neighborhood.

Walking can be addictive and walkers can be competitive and obsessive. I have declined to join an online group of fitbit users who compete with each other on the number of steps they take a day — normally up to 20,000.  Although my body is starting to crave for it, I am taking this new pursuit slowly, relishing the pleasure of the sweat and the pumping of the heart, the energy in my legs now looking more firm with real muscles, and the stimulation in my brain by the sights, sounds and thoughts that slide into my consciousness with every resolute step I take.

Walking rocks. And with a fitbit or any pedometer, it is totally doable for exercise-averse seniors.

ACIRC ASONG PINOY ASPIN DAY FITBIT ICED TEA IF I JAN ONCE I STEPS WALKING
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