Saturday, October 11, 2014

First Place and The Rest

I am a competitive person.  I think that is a good think.  Mostly.  
A few weeks ago I joined a diet group with some colleagues at work.  We wrote down our weight loss goals and what exactly we'd be tracking.  I told them I wasn't so much concerned about losing weight as I was getting back into a healthy lifestyle.  But since we had to put something down I said I only wanted to lose a pound a week and get back under 200 pounds.  I weighed 209 pounds at the start of the group. 
I didn't do so well toward this goal in the beginning.  I gained one pound, then lost it, then stayed the same.  The other people were losing three, seven or so pounds a week.  I shrugged off my results.  I was noting the levels of fat in my diet more.  But my diet had already been pretty good.  
Then my colleagues told me about an app they were using called "Pacer."  It measures your steps on a daily basis, and tracks you trends over the days and weeks.  It also allows you to keep track of your weight and blood pressure if you enter it.  
More importantly, though, it allows you to form groups where you can see each other's steps throughout the day.  It's this feature that has changed things.  
Very quickly, I started checking the group ratings throughout the day.  If someone was ahead of me, I'd get up from my desk and walk around the office.  I stopped taking my twenty minute nap at lunch.  I now take a 20 to 30 minute walk instead.  
My steps went from around nine to ten thousand a day in the beginning to about fifteen thousand a day on average.  
My group-mates laugh at me.  "You can't stand to be in second place, can you?"  This question came from the woman who started the diet group.  
I hemmed and hawed with my answer.  We did this to encourage each other, didn't we?  I'm being encouraged.  She laughed at me.  And that's because she knew she was right.  
I don't like ending up in second place.  I can "stand" it, meaning that, on those rare days when I end up in second I don't throw a fit and brood or lose sleep over it.  But I will admit, here and now, I don't like it.  
Last week, on Friday, when I normally stay in and relax with some wine and indulgent food, I noticed that the group leader had put a four thousand step lead over me.  After eating nearly an entire pepperoni pizza and three glasses of wine, I left my apartment to walk around the entirety of Old Town Pasadena.  I ended up beating her by three hundred steps.  
"You waited until I went to sleep, didn't you?"  We were in our office on Monday before our weigh-in.  "I checked before going to bed and thought, 'Oh, My God, Erick.'"  
"You encouraged me."  I shrugged.  
"Oh, my god...  You just can't stand it, that I can beat you."  
"I can stand the concept that you're capable of beating me.  Whether or not you actually do, that's another story."  
At the weigh-in after that, I ended up losing three pounds from last week.  It brought me to four pounds for the month, right on the average I said I wanted.  
Things are heating up, though.  Last night, I had to do another long walk, an hour and one minute, to push past her.  Six thousand and one steps.  I ended up two hundred and change ahead of her.  
This morning, she went hiking.  Twelve thousand steps before I even woke up.  I took a half hour walk.  Ate breakfast.  Then walked another forty minutes to get to the Starbucks where I'm sitting right now writing this.  I've cut her lead to about seven thousand steps.  
I still have to go to the gym...  I still have to WALK to the gym then walk home.  I'm hoping her hike tired her out enough to stay at home.  Watch TV.  Relax.  I'm sending lazy thoughts to her right now.  
I'm wondering where this will end.  We're probably going to get to twenty thousand steps today.  That's what it took to beat her last week and last night.  Will I need twenty-five thousand next week?  Thirty thousand?  
Will I ask the company for a mobile cart and laptop to replace my desktop?  I'll push it around the office while answering email.  I'll add another ten, fifteen, maybe twenty thousand steps a day doing that.  
Angie, the woman who started the group, is the Office Manager.  She might make up a rule making it against company policy to use a mobile cart like that.  Yeah...  I'm nodding sagely now.  I can see her doing that.  I'll just have get a treadmill moved into my office.  I'll put my computer on a stand before it and walk while I'm reviewing the Work In Progress reports.  She'll never even know.  
And then...  We'll form a bigger group.  With dozens of people.  And all of them will look at the list every morning and think, "Oh, My God...!  Fifty Thousand Steps a Day!  He's amazing!"  They'll text me, telling me how awesome I am and how they can never, ever hope to beat me.  I'll be humble and say...
"Hey...  It's all about encouragement.  You guys encourage me to do this.  I only hope I can encourage you half as much right back."  
And I'll mean it, to a degree.  But inside of me will be this voice saying, "I'm Number One!  I'm Number One!  I am the World Series, Stanley Cup, Super Bowl Champion all rolled into One!  They should call ME the Step-Master, not some inanimate machine that sits there doing NOTHING until someone steps on it."  
I'll start walking to work instead of the hour-long drive to work.  I train myself to sleep walk on purpose.  While I sleep, I'll walk all over town.  All over the state.  I'll walk across the country and still get eight hours of sleep at night.  
Jeez.  I'm getting tired just thinking about it.  This is what I meant about it being "mostly" a good thing, being this competitive, at the start of this entry.  It reminds me of what I see as the difference between rivals and enemies.  Enemies are those people that you have to defeat and destroy to avoid being destroyed yourself.  Rivals are those people that are heading toward the same goal you are, and who push you to do better than you thought you could.  
Yeah.  That's what I need to do.  Remember that we're all walking toward the same goal.  That's what is really important.  We can walk together toward it.  
As long as I get there first.   


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