A lot has changed since Sam and I embarked on our Fittest by 50 Challenge more than six years ago. I was saying to a friend just yesterday that my entire self-conception has changed in ways I couldn’t have predicted. I now consider myself a pretty fit, quite active woman in mid-life.
I’m not striving to attain some ideal of physical fitness anymore. I feel as if, as far as my day to day level of fitness is concerned, I’m there. I feel strong and have a good level of cardio fitness as well. My balance is great and my flexibility, while by no means my greatest asset, is good enough for me and gets me through my yoga class with my dignity intact.
But one thing that hasn’t change at all is my sense that some purposeful activity simply doesn’t “count.” I wrote a blog post called “What ‘Counts’?” back in September 2012. At the time, I sometimes walked to work. And I kind of counted it. But mostly it just made me feel like I was cheating.
I said in 2012: “when I use this kind of thing to replace an actual “session,” I feel like I’m cheating or getting away with something. For example, when I use the bike for commuting, I am sometimes hesitant to count it enough to replace an actual dedicated cardio session (even when endomondo tells me I’ve burned some extraordinary number of calories given the amount of enjoyment I got out of it!).”
Well this year I’m finally jumping on the 219 in 2019 bandwagon — 219 workouts in 2019, if you’re not sure what that bandwagon is. The idea is that any purposeful movement counts as a workout. Like yesterday. I walked to and from work — now a 9K round trip (quite a bit further than my 2012 walk to work used to be, and I even wanted to count that). I usually drive. It was snowing and icy, adding some extra work to the deal. It takes me about 50 minutes each way. And I worked up a sweat in both directions.
So I counted it–I actually counted the entire commute as one workout, even though really I could have probably called it TWO since I could’ve easily taken the bus home but didn’t. The thing is, I was actually supposed to run yesterday. But it was too windy and snowy and blowy and I was too tired to contemplate that. So I posted on our 219 in 2019 Facebook page about my walking commute, with some tone of apology or defensiveness. Not because others questioned it, but because I questioned it. Which makes no sense, because it was purposeful movement.
I queried about that on the FB, and Cate jumped in with her thought that if it’s not something I ordinarily do, then it counts. So in the summer, when I walk to work every day, it shouldn’t count. But what if I walk to work precisely because it is an exerting thing to do, specifically for the movement, entirely because it increases my steps? In some ways, sticking to it daily makes it seem like a thing that should count.
Consider, for example, if I commit to running every day for 30 days. This is a planI have considered yet never executed. I don’t feel bad that I have never executed that plan. And I feel strongly that if I did commit to that, each and every one of those runs should count even if I’m doing it every day. Let’s say I extended that commitment to a year. A year in which daily running (or yoga, or swimming, or …. walking) becomes a part of my life. Routine. Then does it count? Something makes me want to say yes.
Which brings me to the view that if these challenges are meant to get us moving, then whatever gets us moving counts.
Sam has considered what counts. So has Catherine. See their posts here and here, respectively. And Cate has considered what counts (here) and reflected on it in the context of her challenge to work out every day last July (here).
And we’ve asked this before but I’ll ask again — what do you think counts?