We are in Tucson. It was a long trip. We’re glad to be home.
Our first evening in Tucson, Bill and I went out to dinner. The yard is big. Jojo is small. We thought she was inside with Bella. Instead she was outside on her own. By the time we returned, two hours later, she had torn a hole in the new slider screen door that was the size of a VERY large dog. She still didn’t get inside because the glass slider was closed. I expect Bella was on the far side of the glass saying a doggie style, “Neener, neener!” We’ll hear today how much it will cost to repair the screen. The amount will probably in the same range as the cost of replacing the hearing aid Jojo ate. Having a puppy around can be EXPENSIVE!
And so can wells. Our house in Tucson came with water rights when we bought it, and the city let us know that we needed to either “use it or lose it.” So we had a well dug—450 feet deep. The well stopped working in October. We just learned that the pump will have to be pulled. That’s part of the price of having two homes—it’s always something.
For those of you who have been walking with me, keeping score, and cheering me on, please know I’ve just passed the 60 pound benchmark. In my insurance agency days, the agency manager, Gilbert F. Lawson, used to tell us, “Know the score; keep the score; report the score. The score will improve.” Please consider the score as having been reported.
And now the reason for this very short blog. I am working, writing the next Joanna Brady book, Downfall. The deadline is actively ticking.
Talk to you later.
PS: It’s later. Following is an email I wrote Geoffrey A. Fowler after reading his article in the Wall Street Journal: Stop Counting 10,000 Steps; Check Your Personal Activity Intelligence.
I want you to know that today’s article in the WSJ put me in … well … high dudgeon. I’m writing my response to you but I intend to post this on my website blog on Friday morning at www.jajance.com. By way of introduction, I am a 70 year old, 6 foot 1 inch tall mystery writer. Fifty some book and counting, but I digress. That’s what writers do—they digress.
I would like to introduce you to who I was growing up in Bisbee, Arizona, back when I was someone named Judy Busk. I was always tall. From kindergarten on, you would find me in the middle of the back row for classroom photos with all the other kids going down in stair steps on either side of me. I always had long legs, knobby and mostly scabbed over knees, and out-sized feet which meant I was CLUMSY! From second grade on, you’ll see me wearing glasses in those same class pictures. I was intensely nearsighted and had a terrible astigmatism. Until I had Lasik surgery in the early nineties, I always felt that elevators were round.
In other words, I had zero depth perception. I never saw balls coming until they hit me in the face—with astonishing regularity, breaking my glasses time and again. I was, as Janis Ian would say, the girl
Whose name was never called.
When choosing sides for basketball.
I could name off right this minute the girls in grade school who weren’t like me—the golden girls—the ones who never met a ball they couldn’t hit; a race they couldn’t win; a sport at which they didn’t excel: Sharon; Barbara; Vedie; Sally; Carol. I remember them all, although they probably have no remembrance of me. But their message was clear. YOU ARE NO GOOD AT THIS! (Whatever THIS was.) SO DON’T BOTHER TO TRY! Needless to say, I stopped trying. I hated PE. I hated exercise. I hated the very idea of going to a gym where already buff folks were busy styling and showing off their Spandex-clad bodies to all those “mere mortals.”
Then, eight months ago, our family doctor gave us a severe talking to. This is old news to my blog readers, because they’ve heard it before. But I want YOU to hear it. My husband, Bill, is 75 years old. In grade school he was the polar opposite of me—short and round—but with the same “you’re not one of the chosen ones” experience. He’s had a permanent back injury that stems from a time when, as a 30 something, a car engine fell on him in an open garage in Chicago in 10 degree below zero weather. The only way to save himself was to LIFT the engine, and his back has bothered him ever since.
At the time we went to see our doctor, his back was in terrible shape. On previous occasions when our doctor had told us that we needed to walk, we both rolled our eyes at one another and said, in printable words, what a crock. But this time there were a couple of added components. The doctor said that, he was sure at this point Bill suffered from metabolic syndrome, that he would never be able to lose weight, and that most likely his next step was an electric cart.
We went home and started walking the next day—both of us. We counted steps on our respective iPhones. I gradually built up to 10,000 steps a day—the bench mark you so thoroughly denigrated in your article today. I’m too annoyed with scanning the article to go back and reread it in its entirety because I suspect that what you’re really doing is marketing some other “health tracking device” which you deem as superior. But here’s the deal. Bill and I walked and counted our steps. We counted them every day. Right now, eight months later, AVERAGE steps for the year—for eight months—is 9,887, but whose counting, right? Who cares, right?
My husband started out shuffling in baby steps—using a cane—for maybe 2000 steps a day, if he was lucky. He routinely does 6000 a day now, and he strides out purposefully now with the gait and confidence of a man who knows where he’s going and how to get there.
We hired a trainer named Dan. He comes to our house twice a week, primarily because both Bill and I knew we wouldn’t be caught dead in a gym. Right now, while we’re out of town, he’s doing our twenty-minute workouts via SKYPE. Dan started us out with baby steps in the workout department, too. He’s helping us with life skills—I’ve fallen and I CAN get up; balance issues; things we need to be able to do EVERY DAY. In July I couldn’t do a single sit to rise without using the arms of my chairs. Today I did 17. Bill did THIRTY!!
Dan is someone who has been involved in the fitness world for decades. He works with people with severe deficits—people who have suffered strokes; people who are preparing for joint replacement surgery; people who have HAD joint replacement surgery. (Bill had his dual knee replacement surgery in 2008.) Dan has also taught us that most of the most of the trainers in gyms don’t like to work with people who have deficits. Guess what? They want to work with the BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE rather than with ORDINARY PEOPLE—the ones who wouldn’t be caught dead wearing Spandex.
Your right, of course, walking alone is not the sole answer. We walking and working out—using no “weight training” equipment other than our own bodies. We also have changed the way we eat. We eat less. We watch our carbs and calories. Except for holiday meals when the grandkids were in attendance, we’ve had no bread in our house since the first of May. And guess what? We’ve both lost more than 60 pounds! And we’re both down multiple sizes in clothing. Bill’s back is better. His blood pressure is down and so is his blood sugar. I started at 264 pounds. I’m at 203 right now—and counting.
Other people—people like us who aren’t currently capable of intense workouts—and who have followed our journey on my blog, have written to let me know that they have joined the battle in their own small ways. I cheer for all of them. No matter how many steps they take. Encouraging words, mind you, Geoffrey, rather than discouraging ones.
I felt you did all of us a serious disservice in what you wrote today—drawing the same kind of circle in the sand that said whatever you’re doing or think you’re doing, it just isn’t good enough anyway because, after all, no matter how much you exercise, you’re not going to live a day longer than you’re going to live.
Indeed. That is entirely true. My younger brother, Jim, was a firefighter who trained religiously and ran four to five miles every single day. He died of a heart attack due to an undiagnosed heart ailment while swimming in the ocean on vacation when he was fifty.
No, we may not extend our lives one day beyond the appointed hour, but the walking Bill and I are doing right now—and the walking many of my fans are doing—has seriously contributed to improving our individual qualities of life in the here and now. Bill and I are both looking forward to going on a cruise later this spring when last year at this time—thousands of steps, sixty pounds, and several dress and pants sizes ago—we both believed that our cruising days were over.
We’ve regained all kinds of things we both thought we had lost for good. As a consequence, it was very disheartening to open the Wall Street Journal this morning, read your article, and realize that whatever we’ve been doing for months now and using as one of our key benchmarks counts for … well … nothing in the sight of the exercise gurus who have never had any physical deficits or issues. Lucky for them, perhaps, but do they have to sneer at the rest of us?
Our grandson calls this our “step game.” He’s joined in and so has his mother. Would they really be better off not playing because it IS a game. It’s a way of keeping score, and as far as our family is concerned, it’s working.
So thank you very much for telling all those folks whose Fitbits are still, as you said, “gathering dust in a drawer,” that it’s no use for them to take those devices out of the drawer and fire them up. After all, since they probably weren’t athletes in grade school, there’s no point in their bothering to start now. Right? It occurs to me that this comes very close to qualifying as a kind of “hate speech.
By the way, you can mark me down as 10,831 steps for today—5.12 miles—but who’s counting?