Linda was driving to a family dinner on a beautiful spring evening. Windows down, she was singing to herself and beating her left arm happily to Springsteen’s Hungry Heart, when her Fitbit flew off her wrist, landing across a busy, two-lane highway. Linda quickly stopped the car on the side of the road. It didn’t occur to her that she might get run over; her only thought was she had to retrieve that Fitbit. Barely missing a beat, Linda waited for her chance, made a run for it through the traffic, retrieving the Fitbit, regretting only that the device was not able to count the steps of her mad dash.
Some people may see this as a little nuts…her walking buddies think she is just a dedicated team member!
Linda’s walking buddies are Bonnie, Connie, Deb M, Ellen, Linda, Liz, Susan…and me. We range in age from mid 40’s to mid 60’s. We all needed some encouragement to “get moving and get fit” during the long, dark, cold Northeastern Pennsylvania winter last year. We are professionals, entrepreneurs, volunteers, mothers, daughters, wives, grandmothers… even a professional knitter. When this all started, we were simply acquaintances.
What brought us together is our love of walking, of fitness, of creating bonds between women, and our shared mission: walking across the USA virtually—from Pennsylvania to California — using our Fitbits to measure our miles. And what will we do when we get to Sunny California? The Ellen Show, of course! We all love Ellen!
Our first stop on our trip was New York City, a mere 123 miles from our beautiful Valley. But walking there is not so easy. The way we figure it (2200 steps per mile), 123 miles is about 268,400 steps. Believe me, that’s a lot of steps.
We walk in teams of four. Each morning, we report our progress to an appointed team captain. We cheer each other on by text as we near our next destination, and we are equally “enthusiastic” (some might say, “brutal”) when a team member is “not so into it right now.” We change team members at each stop, giving us a chance to compete with one another, as well as share the “slackers.”
In late December, Linda’s father passed away. We decided to take a break, out of respect. We were there to support Linda, some of us new friends growing closer during such a tragic time in her life. We waited until she was ready to start our travels again.
We stopped in Boston to “virtually” visit relatives, then up to scenic Maine, down to Philadelphia, DC, and South Carolina (Charleston was a blast!) We walked to Jacksonville to visit Connie’s daughter Trish, a lawyer, to celebrate her recent engagement! Then we walked down to South Florida and the Keys. We journeyed to New Orleans (more fun) and headed west. At each destination, we photo shopped our pictures into local landmarks, enjoying the highlights of the area, and sent the photos around to the group.
We have been unbelievably dedicated to each other and to walking. Bonnie once called me on her way to an appointment, and explained she had left her Fitbit at home. I encouraged her to turn right around and get it (“Be a little late…we’re a team!”) Liz, who often travels for business, bought new Fitbits four times, when she forgot to pack hers for the trip. Connie travels to dog shows, brings along her mother, but also packs her mini trampoline to insure her numbers are great on the road. I wouldn’t even think of getting out bed without first putting on my Fitbit… how many steps would I miss going downstairs to make coffee?
We have learned a few Fitbit tips along the way: wearing a Fitbit while cleaning is better worn on the dominant wrist (Fitbit advises otherwise). Parking as far away from the front door of the supermarket or mall is a huge help (and not near the cart return either.) One must push a grocery cart or baby stroller with one arm (the non device arm) for the steps to count. Biking or spin class requires Fitbit to be worn on your shoe.
Our families have endured a lot. The constant pinging of texts back and forth as we update, encourage or taunt each other. Late dinners or often no dinners, until steps are completed. No lights out, if the numbers weren’t sufficient and the clock still hasn’t hit midnight. My husband has commiserated with the other husbands, wondering to one another just how “crazy” their wives are, shaking their heads in amazement while telling each other the absurdities that they have had to endure.
But it’s all OK. It’s actually better than Ok, it’s great. We have “virtually visited” as many places as the presidential candidates, we have gotten in shape, become close, endured many a laugh and a good cry or two.
California is off in the distance, and it may take a while to get there…. but watch out Ellen, here we come!