I recently went to the thrift store to buy “surrender pants.”
This is the periodic occasion where I acknowledge that, yes, most of the pants in my house no longer fit. Nevertheless, I am not willing to pay normal prices for new pants. What a waste! Or rather, waist. Both, I guess.
Why not? Because, you see, I have a plan. I always have a plan! These panels of fabric draped over my midsection, cinched tight with a very tired belt, are but temporary inconveniences. I have begun working out, walking and *not* eating all the food. Again.
We’ve done this before, you see.
Now this is where it’s very important you know this is not another one of “those” columns. This is not a New Year resolution. I’m not participating in a “challenge.” I have neither adopted a fad diet, nor am I trying to sell you energy supplements on social media.
This is simply a realization that the last four months of my life have been a caldron of stress, overwork, lack of sleep and a wonton disregard for federally-mandated caloric food labeling. Over the last half year I’ve gained weight faster than an ore boat in West Duluth.
So, I’m cleaning up my act by doing something I’ve never done before. I’m wearing a fitness tracker.
Specifically, I’m wearing a FitBit. My in-laws gave it to me for Christmas. And before you shake your head in sympathy, know that at some point in November my wife asked “Would you be offended if my mom got you a FitBit?” And my answer was truthfully “No.”
I suppose I could have been offended to receive the question entirely, but I’m pretty sure I was eating at the time.
So now I wear this device on my watch hand that tells me how many steps I’ve walked today. A website reports my activity level and explains how well I sleep at night. It catches my naps, too, so even those are on the books.
Ten-thousand steps is a lot. No, not if you lived in the Fifth Century. Or the Sixth. Or really any century leading up until the time you could obtain pizza by pushing a sequence of buttons. But 10,000 is a lot of steps for someone who is, *sigh*, sedentary.
I had myself convinced that I was getting lots of steps at work because I’m a teacher at a college that’s a quarter mile long. But it turns out that standing up and sitting down is not the same thing as walking, and anyway, none of it counts if you drink leftover syrup straight from the Gladware for lunch.
Furthermore, there’s no way to make writing an active process. I could rig my laptop to a treadmill, but I’m pretty sure that’s how I would die. Truly, this would take some concerted effort.
The first couple weeks have gone well. I still haven’t hit my step goals regularly, but I’m doing much better. I cut back my sugar and calories, and started doing regular exercise as well. It’s not as hard as I thought.
That is, of course, the dirty truth about eating well and getting exercise. Anyone who’s ever tried healthy living knows it makes you feel better, but it takes constant mental effort to maintain progress. If only getting fat required such effort.
All I have to remember is that any time is a good time for exercise. Come to think of it, what time is it? Let’s check.
Blinking light. It’s blinking light o’clock.
I’m still getting used to this.
The good news is that a few more blinking lights and I’ll be wearing old pants like they’re new again. Because the most important thing is not paying full price for pants. Those sons of guns will let you down every time.
Aaron J. Brown is an author and college instructor from northern Minnesota’s Iron Range. He writes the blog MinnesotaBrown.com and hosts the Great Northern Radio Show on Northern Community Radio. This piece first appeared in the Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016 edition of the Hibbing Daily Tribune.