To the dark side and back

There was a point after I shed a bunch of weight to about the summer before we moved that I lost the ability to walk long distances due to MS. It’s not a new thing, I’ve been diagnosed 28 years now, but it’s constantly changing as I age.

My motivation to continue my weight loss took a hit, because walking was my main exercise helping me shed the most pounds. However, there is a nagging uncertainty that if going without any sort of MS treatment for as long as I did contributed. It’s a chicken and egg sort of conundrum as I don’t really know if I lost the ability because I didn’t go back on MS meds quickly enough or if it was the high stress of a freak car accident my husband had that took out my right leg. It may have been a combination. It haunts me, though, because since I started the meds, I haven’t had any new symptoms, so perhaps had I been on medication at the time of the accident, I wouldn’t have lost that aspect of mobility.

If you were to see me walking down the street you may not notice anything more than a slight limp. Some days I don’t limp at all, some days my right leg insists on coming along and I’m either staggering around like a drunk or limping like one leg is shorter than the other. I am grateful to be as mobile and healthy as I am, though.

I’ve been back at WW (weight watchers) for the past six months and have yet to keep a pound off. I’ve juggled the same five pounds. So at our last meeting, one of the members kept talking about her Fitbit and how it motivated her to get up and move.

I always thought the Fitbit craze was ridiculous. It started when my kids were in elementary school and was a large, black contraption people kept strapped to their bicep. All. The. Time. They obsessed with getting 10,000 steps in. There was no way I was going to buy into the dark side.

I don’t lie around all day, and even when I write I can’t sit still for long because I’m in the house and something is always calling my name whether it’s domestic, a family member or pet. But the last thing I need is to check my Fitbit and see I’m 150 steps shy and feel obligated to drag my right leg up and down the hall like an abducted child.

But I sat in that meeting and thought, “Maybe it’s time I got a Fitbit. Maybe it would give me the spark I need to work out more.” I was going to Costco anyway. They had the Versa. It’s even waterproof and tracks swimming. Honestly, I haven’t been at the pool since sometime last year, but there is one nearby me in Enumclaw. Maybe having it would finally get me back swimming.

Here’s the thing. I’m sure the Fitbit is great for people who are able to walk, run and bike on a street, but it’s useless for me. The morning after I got the gadget I was eager to do a hard workout on my stationary bike while lifting weights. I had gone to the dark side.

Nothing. Fitbit only tracked that my heart rate was elevated but didn’t register at all that I may have worked out. It didn’t care in the least, then it vibrated my wrist and told me I still had 252 steps to cover in the next hour.

It also wants to know where I am. You know where I am Fitbit? I’m at Costco returning you.

Gretchen Leigh is a stay-at-home mom who lives in a neighborhood near you. You can read more of her writing on her website livingwithgleigh.com, or follow her on Facebook at “Living with Gleigh by Gretchen Leigh. Her column is always available at maplevalleyreporter.com under the Life section.


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