An F is not a Zero–in Fitness and in Life

21 Nov




Since my good friend Joyce is inviting health-minded people to participate in her blog, I will gladly take up the challenge. I am a big fan of Joyce and her garden and her positive, life-affirming spirit. AND her very original, wonderful self. I hope to write more about Joyce, who was my first roommate in college and one of the great influences in my life, but for now I will just tell you that one of the fascinating things she and her husband, Craig, have done is rip out all the grass of their front AND back yard in urban Seattle, and planted a farm with all kinds of vegetables, mushrooms, and other wild things. They are endlessly inventive and I hope that everyone takes a look at her fabulous and gorgeous blog

Instead of talking about food today, I would like to share a little bit about my thoughts on exercise. I am big on walking. I have a pedometer and have a monthly goal of walking 10,000 steps a day (approximately 4.8 miles, or so Mr. Ipod Nano tells me), or 310,000 steps a month. Sometimes I exceed that, sometimes I don’t. But there’s something that nags at me, body and soul, if I don’t push myself to get out and get moving. I feel kind of sick, honestly.

If you aren’t a longtime walker, you probably won’t want to start with such a time-consuming goal. And if you don’t have a pedometer, you can also choose a certain amount of minutes you want to walk, broken up any way you want. Say, if you want to walk 20 minutes a day, you can walk 10 minutes around the block in the morning and 10 minutes around the afternoon. Then you’re done!

But what about those days when you don’t meet your goals? Here’s my thought: Instead of despairing, think of the goals as a number rather than as a grade. For example, rather than giving in entirely, just do the best you can.

Because I have a precious little angel with ADHD, the phenomenon of the paper-turned-in-so-late-it-can-only-get-an-F is well known to me. It used to frustrate me to tears. Why bother turning in the stupid thing if you’re still going to get an F? But my teacher husband explained to me why it’s still worthwhile.

Remember, an F is better than a 0. You may think you’re a complete loser in school if you get a 59. But in terms of your whole average, a 59 is very close to a 65 (that’s what my high school called a D, anyway). When it’s mixed with your other grades, it will not be as much of a disaster as a zero is. The zero will pull everything way down. That also works with walking goals. If your goal is 310,000 steps a month, you’ll be a lot better off with a day that you walked 5,000 steps than a day where you walked 1,000 steps. The 5,000 steps you walked that day make you 4000 steps closer to your goal than you would have been. You’re a winner! So, persevere. Do what you can. And keep moving!!

(crossposted at

2 Responses to “An F is not a Zero–in Fitness and in Life”

  1. Rita Reisman November 21, 2012 at 10:48 pm #

    I have to walk more! I felt best the couple of years I walked to work every day. I felt great -alert, calm and ready to get to work when I got to my office. It was wonderful. Then, when I lost my job, I had no destination and stopped walking. I have to start again on Monday when all my guests have gone home. Thank you for the reminder of a great exercise experience.

  2. Donna O'Donnell Figurski November 22, 2012 at 4:07 am #

    It was good that we both got moving today, together, after our marathon writing session. I completed the final edit on Chapters 24 and 25. I nearly finished Chapter 26. Then I completed more than 8,000 steps today – so far. (as per my pedometer) I didn’t meet my 10,000 step goal, but your point was well taken. The steps will add up.

    See you soon.

    Have a happy holiday.

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