The Story Hall
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The Story Hall

My New Little Friend

Photo by Flip Gielda, c/o

It had been a struggle for me, finding something to replace competitive softball for keeping me in “playing” shape.

Even though the actual playing of the games, in and of itself, wouldn’t have been enough to really keep me in shape, everything I did surrounding the games — the regular exercise during the off-season and in between the games, to try to ward off the injuries that would occur as a result of not doing so, were the key to my decent fitness.

Two seasons have come and gone now in which I have not played a single game — (and they said it couldn’t be done!) One thing people might not realize about me is, when I walk away from something, I walk away and don’t look back. Well, until much, much later, maybe.

I haven’t been out to a single game of my old teams since I retired. It would have just been too painful for me to watch, and not be able to get out there and play.

Plus, I know me. After one or two experiences of watching them, I would have convinced myself that I could still play — actually, I know I could — and would have been out there before I knew what hit me, and then it would have just been a matter of time — before something did hit me.

That was the real reason I retired from playing, for good. I knew that, sooner or later, something is going to hit me — a screaming line drive, for instance, or a collision with a bigger, younger guy on a bang-bang play at a base — and I was going to suffer some permanent damage that I would regret for the rest of my life. I’d seen it happen, and I’d had it happen, when I was much younger, an injury that ultimately cost me a job, and dogged me for years afterwards.

Forest Cavale, unsplash

Vertigo gave me a good excuse to walk away, and I took it, and walked. Having made it through two seasons without playing, I feel like it’s safe now. I’m sufficiently away from that whole mindset of the athlete, that I think I can rest knowing I won’t go back.

That said, I was having trouble finding the proper motivation to keep myself in the kind of shape where I feel good about myself. There wasn’t anything driving me to keep at a consistent set of exercises or to just get up and move about when I felt more comfortable just sitting and thinking, or sitting and writing, or sitting and….sitting.

Age was creeping up on me, as it is wont to do, and I was fine with it. But, not totally. I didn’t like how “soft” I was becoming. I didn’t like how that needle on my scale was slowly, ineffably, creeping up into the 230’s, then the 240’s, and then halfway through the 250’s. I’m a big guy — I’m just getting a little bigger. I couldn’t buy into it, all the way.

But, I don’t especially enjoy working out. It always seems like — I’m wasting time when I do. It’s repetitive. Thoughtless. Just something people do to pass the time. I have better things to do with my time. Who cares about weight, and looks, and all of that. Real life is what goes on inside.

But, I did really hope for something to motivate me to get past all those thoughts and find a way to enjoy being more active. I’m too young to get that old, I thought.

Then, I got my apple watch. Everything changed, overnight — once I programmed it, which was exceedingly simple. I’ve been counting my steps for three years now, and I have struggled to maintain an average of more than about 7,500 steps a day. Again, the motivation factor. Just counting steps was not enough, apparently.

This handy little gadget counts lots of other things. You know me — I love to count things. Numbers are a whole language of their own, one that I love and enjoy almost as much as I love the English language and words — maybe even more.

So now, 28 days into having my new little friend on my wrist, I have a few numbers to lay out there. In these 28 days, I have averaged well over 10,000 steps a day, which is more than 5 miles a day. I have achieved my calorie burn rate (930 calories per day) on all but 4 days in this time. I have achieved my exercise rate (30 minutes a day) on all but one day, averaging 71 minutes per day of exercise. Except when I had a cold, I have used my swim spa out back practically every day, something I’ve never done in the three years we’ve had it.

And, yes — I feel much better as a result. I’m beginning to experience that “fit” feeling — (“fit as a fucking fiddle”, as the one character in “Wonder Boys” liked to say) — which is a pretty great feeling. It is also doing wonders for my stress levels, which I had just come to accept as part of the deal, ever since moving into the position I’ve been in at work for the past year and a half.

All because of a little plastic band of electronic gadgetry on my wrist. Amazing how something like that can change your behaviors, and your fitness. I’m glad I asked for it for my birthday. So far, it’s been a game-changer for this old ballplayer.



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