Keeping in step: Trying to stick with walking routine through setbacks

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 11, 2018

By Lynn Hall
For the Clemmons Courier

About five years ago, I decided I really needed to get back into a regular exercise routine of some sort and started walking. Getting back into something you’ve abandoned, for whatever reasons, can be challenging, but as my daughter assured me, “you only need to do something 12 days in a row to make it a habit.” While I assumed that was some sort of new-age, fortune-cookie philosophy, I decided to trust it and started taking a walk right after work. I was still working then, and instead of heading home, I would change into appropriate clothing and take off down the sidewalks in Lewisville. The secret was not to ask myself “do I want to take a walk?” but rather just change clothes, put on my headphones and walk.

It worked. I walked from Town Hall in Lewisville down Lucy Lane to the school, took a right and headed toward Arrow Leaf and then up to Shallowford Road, turned left and down to the Oaks Shopping Center. From there, I walked to Belnette and back to the square where I made a couple of laps. After a week or so — and the shin-splints healed — I started passing the square and heading down toward the Lowes Food Shopping Center. In a couple of months, I was walking for an hour in the afternoons, and on the weekends I would start at the CVS on Lewisville-Clemmons and walked to Panera and then back.

My daughter was right. It was a habit and it felt weird not to walk. However, in eight or nine months, I managed to walk myself into a painful case of plantar fasciitis. I continued to walk for another six or so months — using the various appliances and treatments (injections) that the podiatrist prescribed — but nothing seemed to help until a year and a half later I had to have foot surgery.

Nothing stops you in your tracks better than an incision from just below the ankle down and across the bottom of your foot.

Six weeks on crutches and another month in a walking boot and I was back in real shoes and ready to resume my walking routine. That worked out fine until I stepped out the back door at my son’s house in California and broke my ankle. I won’t go into the gory and frustrating details, but that was an eight-month ordeal and I’ve only been trying to get back into my good exercise habits for a couple of months now. This time, however, I’m armed (literally and figuratively) with my own training assistant. Friends gave me a Fitbit for my last birthday and I thought, this is going to be great — a real motivational tool.

Isn’t technology amazing? Not only does this device tell you the time and date, it also monitors how many steps you take, your heart rate, calories burned and how well you’re sleeping. All day long it vibrates with messages of encouragement. “Take me for a walk.” “Only 215 more steps to reach your hourly goal.” And when you reach that magical 10,000 steps in a day, there is literally a fireworks celebration going off on your wrist. Certainly puts that stone-aged pedometer to shame.

But … did I mention the guilt associated with the Fitbit? What happens when you don’t make 10,000 steps? How are you supposed to feel when you skipped your walk to nap on the couch and it wakes you wanting to know if you want to “go for a walk?” I hurt my back a couple of weeks ago and could barely get out of bed. I wasn’t walking anywhere. All day long, my wrist kept vibrating, telling me to take a walk, go for a stroll, I only needed 9,999 steps to reach my goal. I started to feel the same way I do when my GPS determines my route and then has to keep “recalculating” because it doesn’t factor in restroom stops, scenic overlooks or Diary Queens on the other side of the highway.  

Somewhere in the back of my mind I keep thinking my Fitbit and my navigation system are disappointed in me. I ask for their help and then ignore it. It makes me feel guilty — unreasonable, I know — but nevertheless. Guilt can be terribly tiring. So, I think the best thing for me to do is stretch out on the couch and take a nap. But first I’ll remove my Fitbit.