I’m not a calorie counter. With the exception of a brief stint in high school where I was delusional enough to think that I was fat (sadly, the norm among our society’s teens), I’ve never really concerned myself with how many calories are in the food I’m consuming. I suppose the technical term is “intuitive eating”, but I basically just do what my body tells me to do. Hungry? Eat something. Feeling lethargic? Eat less junk, eat more veggies. Pants feeling a little snug? Reel in the beer and pizza consumption. For the majority of my adult life, outside of pregnancies of course, my weight has stayed within a 5 lb +/- range. Take into consideration the fact that a surge of estrogen can add 5lbs of water weight overnight, I’d consider this pretty normal. I try to make the vast majority of my food choices healthy ones, and I do not feel any guilt over the occasional junk. (Note: I do believe there is a time and a place for calorie counting for certain people during certain points of their weight loss or health journeys)
Further, I’ve always been baffled by the 10,000 steps a day rule. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been active. I played sports throughout school. Even during my lazy college days (the first time around) I still walked back and forth across campus to all of my classes. I waited tables for ten years before I entered the fitness field. One time for laughs, I wore my Garmin GPS to an 8 hour shift waiting tables, and logged well over 5 miles. I’ve always been on my feet, I’ve always been moving, and therefore, my caloric expenditure has almost always exceeded, or at least equaled, my caloric consumption. I couldn’t imagine how people couldn’t put in at least 10,000 steps a day.
Until I got a desk job.
I’m about 8 months into my new job of writing full time, where I spend the majority of the work week parked in my office chair. The irony of writing about running and fitness while sitting all day is not lost on me. When I first started this job, I imagined knocking out an article or two in a few hours or less, freeing up the entire afternoon for running, hiking, the gym, etc. The reality is, this type of writing is far more involved than simply rambling as I do in these blog posts. There is research, editing, and the perpetual writers block that tends to hover when I’m instructed to NOT write in first person. I sit, I type, and before I know it, an 8 hour workday has passed and I’m lucky if I’ve walked 200 steps.
Now, I’ve read the research studies proving that that the longer you spend sitting down every day, the higher the risk of dying prematurely, even if you engage in regular daily exercise (scary). I’ve seen the terrifying infographics, like this one, warning me of how my body starts to rebel and enter the lazy zone the second my fingers dutifully type away at the keyboard .
And yet, I haven’t fully heeded all of the warnings until now, as the lethargy begins to creep in and my weight is beginning to creep up. I feel awful, and I’m certain it is from sitting in a chair all day. So I did what any exercise science nerd would do: I armed myself with technology.
Specifically, my BodyMedia FIT band, and for sake of review (coming soon) and backup data, the Wii U FitMeter pedometer. I started my tracking on a Saturday. I figured, weekends are more active, this should be a good example of a high activity day.
Saturday included a gym session (legs) and a 3 ish mile group interval run, and believe it or not, even with two workout sessions, I barely cleared 10,000 steps.
Sunday included an 11 mile long run, so that in and of itself put me clear over the 10,000 steps mark. For those of you truly following along, that was 11 miles the day after leg strength day in the gym and a 3 mile interval run. Needless to say, those were the longest, most painful 11 miles I’ve run in a very long time.
But if you look at the chart below (Sunday is on the top, sorry) the majority of my activity was done within a two hour time frame.
Conclusion? I sit too much. Despite two a day workouts, despite all of my mileage and other adventures, I do not move frequently enough. I’m terrified to see what today’s results are, as I’ve been at the laptop working since 8 am, with maybe two trips to the kitchen and two to the bathroom (a mere six and ten steps respectively from my desk, our apartment is painfully tiny. 21 steps from one end to the other, to be exact.)
Solution? Find more ways to move, and move frequently. The actual details of said plan to be determined, as I aimlessly wander this apartment, 21 steps at a time, trying to break up the monotony of today’s chair adventures.