Exercising, one step at a time

Sunday, November 9, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 8:12 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 12, 2008

I don’t like to exercise. In fact, my dislike borders on hate. What’s the use of sweating for no good reason? When I lift weights, my muscles ache. I never got into “the zone” when I ran, I just got out of breath. And riding a bike hurts my derrière.

I used to be into sports. I played racquetball and even won a couple of trophies. I was a dynamite catcher on our softball team. I had a mouth that would intimidate even the most fearless wannabe hitter. If I didn’t catch the pitch with my mitt, my thighs were large enough to stop even a zinger — and I have permanent bruises to prove it.

Then one day I just stopped. I can’t remember why, I just hung up my mitt and my racquet and moved on.

When the mayor challenged the townsfolk to walk to school and work, I ignored him. But when I was told that my bones were weakened and I might implode, I decided that walking was going to be my savior — in addition to 1,200 milligrams of calcium daily.

The first thing I needed was proper footwear, which turned out to be the ugliest shoes I’ve ever seen. I actually paid $70 for a pair with a rounded toes and “excellent” arch support that look like duck feet.

I used to walk around my neighborhood when I was on a quit-smoking campaign — don’t ask — or a weight-loss regimen. But when my daily strolls produced little or no results, I quit. Nevertheless, this was serious business! Forget trying to get into a size 10 — I am getting shorter by the minute and this time I was determined to do something about it.

I decided the trail would be the best place to walk. For my first foray, I decided to walk for a half-hour. How difficult could it be putting one foot in front of the other? I wore my watch, and my plan was to walk for 15 minutes, turn around and walk back to where I began.

The first part of my body to complain was my calves. They started to tighten almost immediately. I ignored them. Next, my hip started to whine. I straightened my gait. Next, my feet told me they didn’t like my new walking shoes, which were beginning to weigh 10 pounds each. Surely I’m almost halfway, I thought. Glancing at my watch, I had been walking for exactly eight minutes. That first day I walked 20 minutes total, limped home, took some Ibuprofen and went to bed.

My daughter told me about an article she had read that said to get in shape and lose weight, we must walk 10,000 steps every day. To make her point, she bought me a pedometer so I could keep track of my steps. Piece of cake, I thought. With my daily walk — I was up to 45 minutes — and all the errands I run, I should have 10,000 by noon.

Thank goodness my husband knew how to calibrate the thing or I never would have gotten started. I clipped it to my waistband and I was off walking around my house. I’d stop every few steps to see how far I’d walked. In less than five minutes it read 150 — not bad. I was out the door, headed for my trail walk with a new purpose. The gizmo clicked as I walk so I knew it was working, but I would check it every once in awhile to note my progress. And because I can’t walk and read the thing, I’d stop and lift my shirt — always on the lookout that someone would see me and wonder what perverted thing I was doing.

When I reached 2,500, I almost let out a whoop! I was so energized I walked for an hour. By the time I reached my car, I had logged 4,200 steps. Hmm. This may take a little longer than noon to complete.

Undaunted, I went home and found myself thinking of reasons to go up and down the steps. By 2 p.m., I was almost at 6,000. Then I noticed that my shoe was untied. I bent over to tie the lace, and when I straightened up and looked at my pedometer, it read zero! Apparently, the extra roll — or two — of fat I’ve been carrying around pushed the clear button. I was devastated. I took the darn thing off and sat for the rest of the day.

Since then, I’ve had my ups and downs with my pedometer. I put it on first thing every morning — not wanting to miss a step. I take it off if I have to bend over. I have found that when I wear a certain pair of pants, the counter doesn’t work because they’re too tight to let it jiggle. I haven’t made it to 10,000 yet — 8,200 is the highest so far — but I keep trying.

So, if you hear someone clicking behind you in the store or on the street, it’s probably me on my quest to 10,000.

If you have a comment, or know of a pedometer that’s bend-over proof, please e-mail me at

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