I was at Starbucks this morning (don’t judge, it was actually my first foray into the green lady’s lair since our April trek to Rome) with all three kiddos in tow, the youngest specimen strapped securely to my torso, when I sat down next to a spritely blonde on a laptop who looked not too unkindly at her suddenly less than serene mobile office space and smiled at the boys, each sucking greedily on a $4 carton of organic free range cane-sugared chocolate milk. Turning to me she raised an eyebrow and made the usual “you must be busy” chit chat before leaning it conspiratorially and confiding to me that “You look pretty good for three kids!”
To which I chuckled heartily before replying, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
Actually I grimaced and made some comment about walking instead of driving to the ‘Bucks because sustainability! (Actually, because it kills 40 minutes of my morning and the commute is excellent fodder for my latest venture: the Walkoff of 2014.)
About 3 weeks ago Dave and I, while sorrowfully contemplating our matching American paunches, made a steely resolve to do!something!about it! But this time was different; instead of embarking on yet another quest to eat the method du jour and thereby once and for all solve all our weighty woes, we instead thought back to a time when our bodies were in decent shape, we felt good, and we had a decent amount of energy, small children notwithstanding.
Bing bing bing! Italy. With it’s non-GMO produce, piles of pasta drenched in butter and cream sauces, rivers flowing with chianti and, perhaps most importantly, millions of miles of walkable streets. Ha. Walkable. As in, there’s so much freaking humanity crammed into a space designed 2,000 years ago, you’re better off hoofing it if you need to get, well, anywhere. Plus, when we lived there, we didn’t have a car.
We had this amazing stroller, which is still sitting pretty in my garage as I live and type, and we had 2/3 of the children we currently possess, and so every day I dutifully put the two together and strode about the city, stopping intermittently for the most incredible coffees and pastries and never giving 2 shots of espresso about what I was putting into my body, at least for the most part. And I looked good.
Even when we got pregnant with Evie, I didn’t gain a single lb until week 21 rolled around, which is unimaginable with my gestational history. It was magical. And, until now, we couldn’t really figure out how to replicate it Stateside.
Dave and I scratched our heads, looked in our mirrors, and decided that while Trader Joe’s could only take us so far in the unprocessed foods department, the 45 minutes we were each putting in on the elliptical nightly probably weren’t cutting it in the phys ed department. Suddenly I remembered reading about how Anne or Jen had mentioned their love affairs with movement-tracking devices and I knew, I just knew this was the magical key we sought. I did 3 minutes of research and then downloaded the Pacer app on both our iPhones and suddenly we were off to the races: the spouse with the most steps tallied in 4 weeks wins $100, and mommy gets to buy herself some hot jeans.
Except it hasn’t been entirely simple. I mean okay, it has been simple, but it hasn’t been easy. First of all I was way overestimating how much movement I was getting in a day. 10,000 steps (the recommended amount for optimal health) a day? Pshhht. I’ve got 3 babies and we live in Colorado, we’re active, I’ve got this.
Except nope, I didn’t. In fact, the first day I tracked my steps I was shocked to find myself stalled out in the mid-3,000s come dinnertime. But, but, how could this be? I’m so busy! And I was busy, but I wasn’t moving nearly enough to impact my health or my waistline. So the app.
Here are the pros: it holds us accountable. Some days the competition is downright fierce as the texts fly back and forth; 6,555…6933…8990….12044 even, one day! It’s super motivating for both of us to have a direct competitor taunting us, encouraging us, egging us on; it’s effective. Some concrete examples: I park as far as I can away from wherever I’m going in the lot, I walk around the house constantly, choosing to do one thing at a time rather than doing a whole bunch of streamlined tidying, just so I can get more steps. I run up and down the basement stairs to the laundry with small armfuls of folded clothes instead of one basket with everything in it. And, if all else fails, I hit the gym in the evening to make up the difference.
The cons: it’s not cool to have your phone literally touching you all day long. I’m sure I could buy an armband thing or figure out a more sophisticated carrying solution, but right now I either tuck it facet under my sports bra shoulder strap (breast cancer) or tuck it into the waistband of my gym shorts at my side (love handle cancer?). Neither is ideal, but in order to track my steps, it has to be able to feel me stepping, if that makes sense. I think either a fitbit or a jawbone (hint, hint, darling) would solve this problem marvelously; it’s also sometimes a huuuuuuuge pain to take the child herd on yet another walk or to do something so ridiculous as walking to a suburban coffee shop, because the looks you get strolling down that busy intersection. Sheesh.
It’s also really, admittedly tough to live a pedestrian-centric (is that a word? totally not a word) lifestyle in a auto-centric culture. This morning’s foray to Starbucks, for example, less than 1.5 miles down the road from mi casa, but nevertheless a place I’d never normally walk to. And for my office-bound desk jockey of a husband, it’s been really tough for him to get his 10,000 steps in unless he hits the gym in the evening for a little quality time with the treadmill.
Some other walking hacks we’ve been incorporating to hit that magical 10K mark: walking ‘meetings’ or phone calls, nightly or morning walks to a nearby park, circling the kids playground area at the park like a shark mother, looking only ever-so-slightly like a lunatic in so doing, and trying to replace sedentary activities (netflix binges, internet trolling in the evenings) with active ones.
Overall it’s been way, way effective in keeping us on the move and trimming down. And the best part? I’m down like an entire pants size and I’ve lost a couple pounds, too. But more than that I’m starting to look like myself again, and not some fluffy postpartum caricature of the ghost of Jenny past. And between you and me?
I don’t look half bad for having had 3 kids.
(Oh, and for posterity’s sake, here’s a poorly-lit selfie of today, 3 weeks into these shenanigans. Evie will be 6 months old on Sunday, just for reference.)