Too Much Information

Years ago a fan sent me an e-mail complaining about the name of one of the characters in the first Walker Family book, Hour of the Hunter.  The character’s name was Fat Crack Ortiz, and my correspondent wanted to know why I gave him that name.  I was a bit perplexed about how to respond, I mean where did he think nick names come from?

My response was short and to the point:  “Think of any plumber you’ve ever met.”

His reply?  “Too much information.”

You may want to file this blog post in the same spot.

We went to see our doctor a couple of weeks ago and he gave us what my mother would have called “a severe talking to.”  In a word—get off your butts!  He suggested we get a trainer or join a gym.  Nope, that’s not gonna happen.  Ever.  I am not and will never be a gym rat.  And I am not and never will be an athlete.  In Janis Ian’s song, At Seventeen, the words that spoke to me the most were these:  “For those whose names were never called when choosing sides for basketball.”

I was tall but clumsy.  My near-sightedness compounded by a severe astigmatism meant I had zero depth perception.  (That changed twenty years ago now, thanks to Lasik.)  But my being out there on any kind of playing field is a totally foreign idea.  Totally!

This time our doctor had a surprising ally—our new iPhone 6s. Built into the phone is an app called Health.  It has any number of options that will let you see how you’re doing in terms of exercise—number of steps taken, number of miles walked or run, number of flights of stairs climbed.

In order to make it work, you have to input your personal details.  I did not follow the directions properly.  I’m six-one.  That’s what I put into my profile—6.1 which the phone translated into 6.1 inches.  That first day I walked a lot.  Bill and I took the same number of steps, but my distance barely registered.  No wonder.  The phone thought I was Bella’s size.  When Bill entered my inches properly, the distance statistics began to make better sense.

The next morning, when I came down the hall to start the coffee what did I see at the end of the hallway?  A stairway.  The stairway to upstairs, a place we seldom go.  We used the upstairs during the renovations after our great flood, but since then?  Not so much.  So I looked at those stairs and thought about them.  Then while the coffee was brewing, I went back to the stairs and climbed up—well dragged myself up.  And since the coffee machine was still brewing when I came down, I did it again.  Quite a bit slower the second time, but when I checked on my dashboard, there it was—2 Flights Climbed. YAY!

That first day, I made four flights and a little over a mile, and I’ve been gradually upping those numbers, walking in the back yard or the front driveway.  The front driveway lap amounts to just over 100 steps.  I can walk away from my writing chair, do twenty laps in about twenty minutes, and voila, I have 2000 plus steps—and a down payment on that day’s mileage.  Without ever leaving home or wearing spandex.

When I was in the insurance business, my Agency Manager, Gilbert F. Lawson, often repeated the following words: “Know the score; keep the score; report the score.  The score will improve.”  That’s why, when I’m writing, I always count the words.  I need to know if I’m making forward progress

The same thing is true for this.  I’ve just checked my score, and my monthly averages are as follows:  Distance daily: 2.37 miles; Steps daily: 4,636; Flights climbed daily: 13. But that’s the average.  Yesterday I clocked in at 9,000 steps, 5 miles, and 20 flights climbed.

So that’s a big change for me.  And it’s a big change for Bill, too.  His legs are shorter than mine, so if he takes the same number of steps, they don’t add up to the same mileage.

My ultimate goal is to walk 5 miles a day, and the last two days I’ve done that.

So we’re doing it.  We’re doing it at home.  We don’t have a Stair-master, but we do have stairs.  Every time I start the coffee machine, that’s where I go—up and down the stairs.  As for having to make pit stops?  Those happen in one of the upstairs bathrooms, too, not here on the ground floor.

We’re also tackling this problem together and we’re doing it rain or shine, Bella included.  By the way, she really is 6.1 inches tall.

Now, once this blog is in the can it’s time for a new cup of coffee and at least two flights of stairs.

If I can do it, so can you.

And remember, keeping track of whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish really does make a huge difference.

18 thoughts on “Too Much Information

  1. I just started walking in March. My sister bought me a FitBit to count my steps, and a friend suggested I use the phone app Map My Walk, which actually shows the route I walked and distance (I wonder how it would map your very local walks!). I am short and chunky…can’t do anything about my height, but I can about my weight. Anyway, I walk from my house to the post office, with long breaks (with a book in hand) when I walk along the sea wall. Congrats on your walking program. Just last week my doctor suggested I join a gym, but I’m with you…ain’t gunna happen!! Take care and enjoy your day!

  2. What a nice way to start my day. I think thinking up names for characters must be hard. ( Charles Dickens has some of the best ones.)

    Am sorry your fan doesn’t have a sense of humor about the name you gave a character. In my hometown there is a young man whose has a pointy face that reminded someone of a badger. So that’s his nickname Badger. He doesn’t seem to mind.

    I’ve never been a fan of exercising either. In college I cut phys ed so many times that I didn’t get credit for it. I like your idea of exercising at home. No need to drive to a gym and spare space with people who smell bad. Keep up the good work.

  3. I joined a gym for 4 months and hated it. I got a FITBIT last September and have upped my steps every day – even in the winter. I love the neighborhood and now with spring it’s beautiful. I park out in a parking lot to also get those extra steps. Good for you on the walking. I bet you also have more energy, too.

  4. Fun post! Love to see your posts on Friday mornings. I let myself be guilted into joining the gym. 8 months and 4 trainers later I am still waiting for the stress fracture in my foot to heal – so I can get back to walking, which is what I did for exercise in the first place. You are so right, do what works for you and keep score. Can’t wait to get released and get back out there.

  5. Thank you for the kick in the butt. I am a Lifetime WW and got away from tracking which has my weight creeping up. I am now going back to tracking!

  6. I am 74, 5’2″ and lost 40 lbs. so I could get a knee replacement. It has been almost a year since the new knee and I too am not a gym person. I started walking a couple of months ago on the sidewalk on our street but a couple of blocks down the street tree roots have lifted the concrete and I fell. Got up and finished my mile. We have desert in back of our house so decided to walk on the trails there. It is much better and I get to enjoy the wildlife. As I was walking this morning I was thinking I should get a pedometer and then read your blog. I always carry my I phone and I should have known there was an app for that. Thanks and happy walking.

  7. Just as I was toying with the idea of NOT going to the gym today your blog landed. Okay, I’ll get on with it and get my exercise today — over and above the usual gardening and wandering around the house (no stairs here). I don’t wear spandex either. I go at quieter times in midday and there’s no crowd. Easy to do the treadmill in a quiet dry environment — and I can read or watch TV at the same time. Also good to get some upper body workout as well. Have you tried just standing up and sitting down repeatedly from a chair? No hands allowed (I usually cross my arms over my chest). Important to retain the ability to sit/stand — and not have to use grab bars! I applaud you and Bill in your fitness efforts!

  8. I had major, major back surgery in December and I’m still recuperating. I’m not a fan of “going to a gym,” or of doing workouts, either. But I have to do physical things to regain strength, flexibility, endurance…to keep having the life I want. Yes, just walking and taking stairs is the best over-all exercise we can do. But we do need some upper-body stuff, too — not just hefting the coffee cup. I have a pair of 2-pound hand weights that I use to gently nudge up the intensity of my arm exercises. I could talk about the benefits of flax seed to improve our interior stats overall but I’ll let you ask if you want info. You’ve encouraged me to stay with it; I hope you and Bill continue, too.

  9. Congrats, I also have that app and have resisted urge. So, now I am thinking, just maybe I also will active the darn thing and remember to carry my cell phone.

  10. Congrats to you for changing your lifestyle! It still surprises me how much better I feel after some exercising. You don’t need a gym to exercise. We have become so sedentary. When I was a kid we played outside and used our imaginations. I like getting out and walking around my neighborhood with the dog, seeing the outdoors.

  11. Congratulations on getting your “rear in gear” as my mother used to say! We have memberships at Planet Fitness – definitely NOT a “gym rat” kind of experience. Hubby got sick (damn, I hate cancer as much as you do, maybe more) and we’ve slacked off while dealing with the medical system. It does feel good to check in, put in a few miles on the treadmill or the bike, do some weights and be done with it! Like you, I was “never called when choosing sides for basketball” or any other sport, for that matter, so athletics is definitely not my forte! On a side note, please don’t encourage Bella to do the stair climbing part with you. Stairs (even thickly carpeted ones) are very bad for dachshund backs. Imagine yourself having to drop down a distance of your height at the hip repeatedly for the same number of stairs – cringe!

  12. I haven’t been following your blog, but did so when I came across this entry I found on Facebook. Am wondering who Bella is.

    I really need to start doing what you’ve been doing. If for no other reason than that I was recently diagnosed with M.S. and need to really start paying better attention to my health. I’m not going to let that give me an excuse to slack off. 🙂

    • Bella, is a dog. At least she looks like a long-haired Dachshund who was rescued by the Jances. Bella thinks she is a person.

  13. And if Bella accompanies you, she’ll get twice as many steps, further adjusted for her short stride!

  14. Dr. Phil had a woman on his show Friday, 1 May, who had fallen for that old trick of a man on the Internet who has been able to get her to send him around $100,000. Guess where he lives? You’re right. Nigeria. Dr. Phil had evidence that the man does not exist.

    I was reminded of an early Ali Reynolds’ book where she dealt with this crime. “Cruel Intent”. I didn’t think anyone was still falling for this scam, but apparently they are. The poor woman on the show had a hard time believing the truth.

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