The UP wristband that each of us on the Cooking Light Food Lover’s Social Diet is wearing is basically a fancy, diabolical pedometer that jacks into your smartphone and downloads your day’s exercise. The default goal is 10,000 steps a day, which, according to a walking website, is about 5 miles.
As soon as I put the UP band on, I saw the scale of the problem. When I moved from Brooklyn to Birmingham, my daily walking average plummeted because I substituted a two-floor elevator ride to my car for a 20-block (round-trip) subway walk. In Brooklyn I used my car once a week; daily shopping trips were expeditions on foot. In the hot South, where I need a car to find a Starbucks or buy a loaf of bread, there just isn’t much walking going on.
On days when I wasn’t doing my standard 3-mile jog, I found myself logging a pathetic, walrus-like 2,000 steps (actually that would be a lot of steps for a walrus). When the UP band began talking to the other members of the Board of Advisors, most of whom live in NYC and are exercisers on top of that, I was looking at folks who were logging 13,000 and even 24,000 steps!
The UP band was calling me a sloth. So I’ve taken to walking around the local public golf course some evenings after dinner—9,700 steps—or running halfway and back in the morning, and finishing at night with, say, 5,000 more: That gets me over 10,000. (Admittedly, all this footwork is a giant time-suck.)
It’s true that stepping out this much leads UP to “credit” my food journal with an extra 250 calories of eating, but that’s not the motivation. Apps like UP demonstrate that I’m a puppy, a baby, a Boy Scout when it comes to feedback: Give me a reward, a virtual badge, and I’ll work harder. That’s the power of social media.