Mobile Nations Fitness Month: Getting my butt away from the desk

It's sounds like a gimmick, right? "Mobile Nations Fitness Month." Never mind that we picked the shortest month of the year to do it. Never mind that the last week of the month, we're going to spend upwards of 18 hours of travel sitting inside little metal sausages to get to Mobile World Congress and back. (Once we're there, however, we're going to walk our asses off through Barcelona.)

Gimmick or not, for the first time in a long, long time, I'm taking exercise a little more seriously. And I'm bringing my Android smartphone phone along for the ride. 

Hit the break to see what I'm doing to get my fat butt out of the office, onto the streets and, more important -- what's I'm doing to keep it consistent.

A little background: I wasn't always this finely tuned print journalist-turned-blogger you see before you today.

In the pressroom at Mobile World Congress 2011.

We'll pause while everyone collects themselves. Ready?

Once upon a time I was a skinny kid, maybe 140 pounds soaking wet. Those were back in the good old days when instead of traveling to play with smartphones and tablets, I roamed the Southeast playing as many as five full soccer games in two days, bookended by 6 to 8 to 12 hours of travel. See that picture down there? That was me. And half of that weight was hair.

Then came college. No more daily practices. No more 2-mile runs just to warm up. Too much beer. Too much junk food. Too many late-night runs to Denny's. Then came 11 years in a newsroom, working from 3 p.m. to midnight. With that comes more junk food and a very low metabolism rate. The job was tough enough -- trying to force yourself to eat something that won't kill you and maybe walk around the block once or twice was just as tough. Like this job I have now, it was tough to put the job down for even just an hour at a time. News doesn't stop.

Toss into the mix an ACL surgery on March 1, 1996. I've got a cool six-inch scar on my left knee and am still missing a little bit of feeling toward the surface on the left side of the incision. (And can tell you that rain is on the way without having to check a website.) None of that really slowed me down at the time, save for the five months off for rehab and a damned annoying -- and damned expensive -- robotic-looking knee brace. (Used it for all of 10 minutes in my first game back. Good riddance.) But now? Carrying an extra 10 20 30 pounds? Things squeak. Things crack. And that worries me a tad.

I've been in this new job for two years now. (Has it really been that long?) The news has gotten faster. The hours, longer. I've gained a second daughter. But with this job comes flexibility that too many of us take for granted. No more excuses. It's time to go outside.

What I'm doing

So how the hell am I going to get this done?

Starting slow

I think there's something wrong with my brain. I have a hard time half-assing things. When I get a drink of water, I have to fill the glass all the way. Bowl of cereal? Full. Food on the plate? Eaten. All of it. That's one thing to work on -- moderation.

And that translates to my previous attempts at resuming exercise. I forget that I'm now 33 and flabby, not 17 and able to run 5 miles without thinking much about it. So I'm walking. At a brisk pace, but walking. Not running. (And I'm seriously considering bringing along the 20-pound gear bag I have at shows just for a little extra work. Thoughts?) Trying to do at least three miles a day, and I've even jogged a few hundred yards at a time. Slow. Steady. And easy on the knees.

Tracking the treks

All of us Mobile Nations folks have gotten the little Fitbit pedometers to track our daily activities. Mainly, it sits in your pocket and records your steps, and it automatically uploads via a connected dock. It's pretty simple, and it's just $99. The trick is to remember to put it in your pocket. And there's no official Android app, which is pretty lame.

And I'm using Endomondo Pro to track my walks. If you haven't seen it before, it's a fitness app that tracks duration, distance, speed, calories burned and plots your course on Google Maps. You can share your workouts with friends on Endomondo (this is me here), or through Facebook, or on webpages. (You can set it so that your mapped routes aren't publicly visible, which is good.)

And, yes, I'm using the huge Samsung Galaxy Nexus. It sits in my pocket. Hopefully it stays there.

Public shaming

And so that's what I'm doing. I'm sharing the results each day with close friends on Facebook, and for the rest of the world in our own Health and Fitness forums. And I'm reminding myself, day after day, that we're taking this slow.

And I'm watching Kevin's inspiring video. Over, and over again.

Oh, and free stuff

Starting next week we're going to start giving away some cool stuff -- accessories and maybe even devices -- to help spur a little geek fitness love. Keep your eyes peeled on the blog, and get into the Health and Fitness forums. 

Phil Nickinson