I read an interesting article in the Sunday NY Times. The Busy Person’s Lies. According to a recent Gallup poll, 61 percent of working Americans don’t feel they have enough time to do what they wanted to do. I commend the article. The author logged how she spent her time for a year, which used 18 of her 8,784 hours last year.
She discovered she had more time than she thought she did. And when other people kept track of their hours, they discovered the same.
Yet, when you ask me how I’m doing, I confess one possible response you’ll hear is “busy”.
I was already thinking about time before I read the article yesterday. I’ve recently made some changes to my physical activity patterns. After a winter of so little exercise I might as well have hibernated in a cave, something had to be done.
One day, wasting time (!) on Facebook, I saw an ad for the Lab. It’s a gym in Boise, which normally would not catch my eye. I’m glad this one did. I signed up for a 6 week trial. I work out in their classes twice a week. (I will increase that to 3 days a week now that I’m getting stronger). I attend to what I’m eating, making sure the bulk of my food choices are healthy. And I make sure to get at least 10,000 steps every day. (If you’re in Boise and want more info about the Lab, I’d be happy to talk with you. It’s been a good fit for me).
And it is the 10,000 or more steps that got me thinking about time. I can’t run anymore because of my knees, so it takes concerted effort in my day with a desk job to make time for the 10,000 steps. I walk to the gym. I walk to appointments, or walk to the coffee shop to work on my sermon. I walk to lunch or dinner dates. I hike in the mornings at least a few days a week. And sometimes at the end of the day, I walk the streets of my neighborhood until I’ve gotten my steps in.
I have the same amount of time in my day I had before I started. Somehow the work is still getting done. I just spend less time watching TV or perusing social media.
In the course of walking 10,000 steps, I also have more time with my thoughts, which helps my sermon preparation. My mind feels clearer after a long walk.
As I’m walking around town, though, I realize what a commitment to time these steps involve. Or maybe it’s a commitment to me.
I’m healthier now. I feel better. This is my final week of the 6 week challenge (although just the beginning of the work) and I will report back with numbers. Halfway through, though, I had lost 6 pounds of body fat. It’s a good start. This may be the first time I’ve worked out because I actually love my body and want it to be healthy, (as opposed to the times in the past when I dieted and exercised because I hated my body and wanted it to be some other body).
I recognize my privilege in this. I have a job with flexible hours, largely at my discretion to schedule. I only need to work one job. I live in a safe neighborhood, where I feel okay walking alone. Also, my kids are at an age where they have their own schedules to keep. Of course they still need me (right boys?!) but I have lots of time free while Elliott is at school or at soccer practice.
This line from the article spoke to me:
“A life is lived in hours. What we do with our lives will be a function of how we spend those hours, and we get only so many.”
Looking back on the past 6 weeks, I don’t regret any of the 467,805 steps I’ve logged. I don’t begrudge the time they took, because it feels like time well spent. I’m grateful for family and friends willing to walk with me in real life and in Fitbit challenges. I’m grateful for the way my steps have made me aware of my time.
“Life is full. Life has space. There is no contradiction here”.