I’ve been wearing a fit bit. I think this is a. quite daggy; b. slightly too focussed on weight and body image; and c. so late to the party that all that’s really left to do is pick up the glasses, tip the dregs down the sink and clean out the ashtrays (and that’s how late I truly am to this party because this party was held so long ago that it was full of smokers).
I have been feeling my fitness shift significantly downwards ever since I moved back from Abu Dhabi and while I’ve never been especially fit, over the last ten years I’ve been slightly above average and I do like the energy and strength that comes from a bit of added fitness. And if I’m honest, I do identify now as someone who has above average fitness and at nearly fifty I’ve got enough identity rediscovery going on without adding another element into the mix.
The main issue is that I haven’t found my exercise groove since I moved back from Abu Dhabi. This is a slightly good development because it means my life has been filled with things other than getting to the gym every day, but at the aforementioned nearly fifty it’s become an issue of ‘what do I do?’ Even when I was working full time, I did still have more time in Abu Dhabi for getting to the gym, and on top of that, the class structures meant that getting to classes with people of about my level of fitness was much easier. Here, I’m a bit out of synch with the school-mum routine so the school-mum classes start a bit too late in the morning; I’m not going to even try to pretend to be someone who can get to an early-morning class; and the evening classes are filled with people who are often twenty years younger than I am. It’s not that I mind being older, it’s just that it’s not all that much fun being in a class of people who are naturally so much fitter and also … well, it’s not that they are actually rude, but it’s true what they say about middle aged women and invisibility.
So I’ve been trying to do fitness without the classes, and when done well, time on the gym floor is more effective than classes but the thing about classes is that the thinking and the motivation is done for a person and all a person has to do is move. I’ve had a personal trainer for the last maybe two years, but I broke up with him a few months ago. There were two things underlying this decision. First, I wasn’t convinced it was doing me any good after a while. It’s that thing where doing one thing convinces you that you don’t have to do another, so all I was doing was rocking up, doing what I was told for 45 minutes a week but without properly constructing a routine around that.
Second, having a trainer is extremely expensive and I was conscious that I wasn’t getting the benefit I needed to justify the expense. Especially in the context of our current household economy which has seen an unexpected expense, the ongoing general expenses of teenagers about to go to university, and a more fine-grained understanding that retirement will come sooner than we realise.
My decision not to see my trainer anymore has been retrospectively justified in his attitude towards me since which has, in truth, been kind of hurtful as, even after a long absence from the gym, he has barely looked at me let alone asked how I’m going on. Not that he owes me anything, but after two years in what is a reasonably intimate relationship (you do have to let your guard down a bit if a trainer is really going to do their work) I don’t think the odd ‘hey, how’s it?’ is too much to ask.
Anyhoo, the point is that I realised that even with the trainer I wasn’t sure what exercise I was really, truly doing. Hence why (a phrase I do hope is going out of fashion as quickly as ‘ace’ because while I love ‘ace’, ‘hence why’ is weird) the fitbit. So I can understand what each exercise session is truly about in terms of heart-rate-raised and time-spent-ways.
The results are in: I am shocked at how little exercise I really do. As I suspected my time at the gym was not especially strenuous. But not only that I am way more inactive during the day than I had realised. I mean, I sit at a desk writing or on the couch knitting for most of my time so obviously I knew I was at least moderately inactive. But honestly, I can see now that there are days when I did almost nothing beyond breathing. I’ve also been shocked to understand how little sleep I’ve been getting. I do go to bed a bit too late, but even allowing for the fitbit’s inaccuracies I don’t spend much time in deep sleep.
As daggy as the fitbit is, it does suck you in with all it’s little progress measures (have you done 250 steps this hour? don’t you think it’s time you had something to eat?), and I’ve been walking a lot more since I got it (on which I will write more tomorrow, because how good is walking) and now that I’ve had it for a couple of weeks it’s cheaper than a trainer.
Perhaps the least interesting blog post ever written but it’s helped to distract me for another hour from the idea that Peter Dutton is likely to be our next prime minister. This is extraordinarily alarming and who will save us? (Julie Bishop? I bet she wears a fitbit–of no relevance to whether she can run a country of course. I can’t abide her politics but I do love her wardrobe–again of no relevance to whether she can run a country).