Fitness Lark Part II

The recommended number of steps a day is “rubbish”. It is really. Do 10,000 steps a day and they tell you that you can lose weight, burning an extra 4-500 hundred calories. Of course, all of this is based on averages, and the one thing I have never been is average. I’m not an average size for a woman of my age, I’m not an average height for a woman of my age, I didn’t have an average family… I could go on. So, whichever unholy bugger decided that the average steps you need to take to stay healthy, didn’t know me. One of my friends got a Fitbit a couple of years ago and by the end of the day she had done 16,000 steps. Had she climbed a mountain, run a race, gone for a long walk? Nope, she just went about her average day. I think she gave the Fitbit up after about a week, it was just too much of a shock to her system.

I decided that I was going to do some investigating into this whole healthy step thing. I know the NHS recommend it, so do the Fat club hints and tips, in fact it seems to have been a revelation of late, but if you go back far enough you will find that it was a Japanese walking club in 1960 that first suggested the 10,000 steps a day. Then a Japanese Dr, Dr Yoshiro Hatano in 1965 invented the first tracker as we know it, of sorts. That’s enough of being a bright spark. Isn’t it amazing just how clever you can be when you have Google?

I have a Fitbit, I won’t lie, this is my third. I love them. I can ignore my phone without having to pick it up and see who I’m ignoring. My Fitbit tells me who is trying to irritate me. Oh, and it also says that my heart rate is too high and how many steps I’ve done, amongst other things. The only thing I can’t get my head around is 10,000 steps, as I said, it’s a load of old dodar. I could intentionally aim for the elusive figure but that would mean having to sit down at some point on some days and find a table to walk around aimlessly on others. Take last week for instance, on my ‘up to my elbows in paperwork’ day I managed a stately 3,690 steps. On my ‘OMG the Suns out’ day I did 15,854 steps. That’s not to mention the day I went to meet Mark at work, after going to the Gym and having a stroll down the canal, clocking up 11,229 steps and 10k on the bike. Today I’m on my way with 3,896 steps and a 10k bike ride under my belt.

The bike doesn’t actually go anywhere, it’s one of those static things in the Gym. Yep I’ve been back, I’m definitely getting the bug. What I would like to know is what happened to the country roads. I was so relieved when I joined a Gym when I moved, (not this Gym, I might add) the screen in front of you as you rode the Road to Nowhere had a selection of country paths that would play on the screen, as you cycled. Not like my first Gym when I would spend 30 minutes studying the construction of the White Washed Brick Wall in front of me. Now it’s TV or Stats. I’m not the brightest spark and I know there is a Radio Mode and a socket for ear plugs, but I don’t really want to listen to boom, boom, boom muzak as I cycle through Nowhere Land. So, I’m stuck with the TV, because my Stats are depressing. There again so is the TV.

7am and the TV is bleak and miserable, seriously it doesn’t seem to be any different from the evening TV. The best time I found to use the TV when cycling on the Road to Nowhere is at about 3pm. They have these ‘moving to the country programs’ and if you can’t get a scenic route on the screen at least they show some lovely countryside.

I rummaged through News stations, which I might add are not reporting what is actually going on in London this week. There have been protests in Parliament Square against the unjust prosecutions of Veterans from the Northern Ireland Troubles, and not one station has mentioned it. I know because I am part of the protesting groups. But that’s another story. Chat shows of no consequence and CBBC didn’t grab me either and so I returned to the Stats screen, watching my calories used go from 8-15 was excruciating.

Now there’s another thing, Calories. On the day I walked 6,281 steps, no cycling, no Gym, I managed to burn 2,802 of the blighters. On the day I walked 11,229 steps I burnt 2,407 Calories. Either my Fitbit is squiffy or I have a knack of burning calories whilst not doing anything in particular. Calories weren’t invented they are a concept, a way of expressing how much energy a particular food type gives you. Now you have to excuse the poor Frenchman Clement, and the German Silbermann, and Hargrove and Mayer, all of whom have been accredited with the method of calculating the calorific value of food, after all, whichever one it was wasn’t to know that water although energy giving in a sense, has no calories in it at all, let alone 100 calories. (Thankfully that has been corrected. And don’t get me started on drinking 8 glasses of water a day. How big is the glass!!!) Don’t forget, up until the definition, everyone believed that energy was God given and had nothing to do with Food or the Body! All I can say is Thank God for Cream Cakes.

The Cake I took with me when I met Mark at work wasn’t a cream cake, it was apple. The reason I took it was because Mark wanted to ride his bike to work and I bake for the Thursday Cake Club they have. Avoiding Apple Squash Cake meant I followed on in the car, with cake and dog. She actually surprised me Thursday, as she had been with me the previous day. If I walked 15,000 steps and she has twice as many albeit a third of my size legs, then (serious calculations now going on in my head) she must have walked at least 90,000 steps.

It was a lovely day and we have so many National Parks around us that I couldn’t resist. Stately Home and a Reindeer park were just the thing, and kids. (I will try to stay polite, but don’t hold your breath) Pippa is a brilliant dog, she never has a lead and comes on call, sits and waits patiently for people to pass. I am commended on my training of her. The real secret of course is a pocket full of buffalo treats, and duck jerky. The children on that day weren’t quite as well trained. Equipped with Ankle breakers and demonic swivelling heads, they sprawled like devil’s spawn across the paths. Green algae doesn’t infect a pond as quickly or intensely as a lot of little “darling children.” Imagine walking down the pathway of a beautiful Stately Home, a corridor of green trees, the scent of flowers and fresh cut grass, and the onslaught of buggies, scooters and tricycles with ankle detectors out to get you at every step. The heads of the children riding them turning like puppets heads that are possessed with the devil himself. Looking every which way but where they are going. My dog did brilliantly, I on the other hand didn’t manage quite so well. I headed for a gate, which refused to open, due to the big fluffing chain holding it fast. I climbed, which for a big woman isn’t easy, and found myself on a quiet path. How was I to know it was Private Property? It was only at the end of the path that I found myself looking a sign that said, “No throughway, Private property. Pip had managed to slip under the gate and now off the lead scampered down the lane unhampered, avoiding the curious stares of the chewing cattle. Not wanting to go back we followed the boundary wall back to the entrance of the Park.
It was a walking kind of week. And having clocked up a fair few steps, made three trips to the Gym, cycled and even managed a bit of housework I was confident that the calories I’d burned had done me some good. Stepping on the scales I looked down with pride. To discover that I had gained 3lb!

So, sod the 10,000 steps a day, on average I’d smashed that this week, I’ll be buggered if I’ll use the calorie counter on the Fitbit again, I’m going to blame muscle memory as an excuse for my gain. It’s true, the mystery of my weight gain can be easily explained. You see muscle weighs heavier than fat. I used to be fit and my body remembers that, so my muscles are building quicker. I’ve been to the Gym three times and my muscles have come out of retirement, and therefore I have put on muscle not fat. That’s my interpretation and I’m sticking to it. Who knows I may have started a new concept and in 30 years time there may be a Jenny meter, that measures the amount of muscle you build per step or distance you cycle. Although I think maybe it’s been a week of feeling as though I’ve earnt the cream cake, crisps and chocolate because I’ve walked so far.

Maybe I should put the Fitbit away for a while. But then again, I’d have to look for my phone to see who I’m ignoring when it rings. At least it’s good for that, oh and reading my messages!

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