Al Batt: I walked 10,000 steps; now I’m stranded 10,000 steps from home

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Tales from Exit 22 by Al Batt

The “normal” ship has sailed and it didn’t have many passengers.

Al Batt

I wasn’t on board.

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Our habits keep us from boarding that ship. We have the bad habit of having bad habits. Bad habits keep us standing on the dock and are hard to give up because nobody likes a quitter.

It’s the Minnesota way to conquer bad habits by replacing them with good habits. I tend to my good behaviors. That’s why I walked in our first snow on October 28. It was too early as the first snow always is, but it required no shoveling. That was good. Why did I need to walk in the white stuff? First, you can’t write about snow without calling it the white stuff. I believe that’s a state law. I walked in the falling snow because I don’t like treadmills. A treadmill is an ancient torture device first found in the dungeons of the Middle Ages. Walking on a treadmill is the modern-day equivalent of another torture device — a job. Let me tell you the story of a poor boy born without a single digital device or treadmill to his name. That poor boy was me.

Hi, my name is Al and I am a Fitbitaholic. That’s right, I wear a Fitbit, a fitness tracker. Don’t judge, lest ye be judged. Do I scurry because I have a squirrel’s brain? Possibly. I also walk to tally another day and because I have no cows to fetch. I walk to keep from going on a strict diet where I’d eat meals the size of a playing card and I walk to support my weightlifting efforts, in which I attempt to lift the largest container of ice cream available.

Everything is nearly copacetic. I have other good behaviors. For breakfast, I have a bowl of oatmeal (in a favorite bowl) with blueberries floating in it and a dollop of honey. I mail something each day, a letter or card carrying a positive message. That small act gives me great pleasure. I prefer writing them with one of the four ink pens my wife gave me separately at monumental anniversaries. The truth is, I employ only three of those pens as the price of refills for one has exceeded my pain point.

I didn’t have a Fitbit until I’d reached the point where when I dropped something to the floor, I waited until I dropped a second thing before picking it up.

My baseline goal is 10,000 steps per day, seven days a week. My neighbor Crandall tried going to a gym, but working out wasn’t working out for him. He was enjoying a bowl of maple nut ice cream for lunch and planning on having another bowl for dessert when he first contemplated buying a Fitbit. He reasoned he could walk for free once he’d purchased a Fitbit as he already had shoes. He’d become his own personal trainer. He set his goal at 100,000 steps per day because he knew he’d never reach 10,000 steps, and with 100,000 steps, he had a reasonable excuse why he couldn’t achieve an unachievable goal. Crandall attends a lot of athletic events and applauds everything, hoping the claps count as steps. His Fitbit works, but he’s malfunctioning.

I can’t lie to the Fitbit. It knows how many steps I’ve made. It’s the dentist asking a patient if he’s been flossing regularly. It’s a rhetorical question. The dentist knows. Here’s a public service announcement: Floss. It’s not that painful unless you’re doing it with barbed wire and not that hard unless you’re doing it with your toes.

I don’t have a smartwatch. Mine is the cheapest Fitbit. I think it’s called the Forced March and carried a $30 price tag, but I got it for $29.99 because I knew a guy. My Fitbit proves I can lose a race with myself. I walk until there’s nothing left of my shoes but sweat.

I remain hopeful because I’ve never seen a chalk outline showing a silhouette of a Fitbit on a deceased person’s wrist.

I have a kind, caring and sensitive Fitbit, my third one. I’ve worn out two. I shouldn’t be proud of that, but I’m afraid I am and hope to wear out many more.

Al Batt’s column appears in the Tribune every Wednesday.