Incidentally speaking


I have a terrible confession. And no… it’s not about my scary eccentric taste in television, men or food. Nor is it about some weird foible (cos, yes… I know I’ve shared a few of those).

It’s something that occurred to me recently when I was thinking about my slower-than-expected progress on Weight Watchers.

Now I know (from experience and my own reading and research) that losing weight is predominantly about what you eat. Whether you believe the 80/20 or 70/30 ratio, almost everyone seems to agree that exercise plays a lesser role (than food) when you’re trying to lose weight. Of course once you are trying to maintain your weight it’s an entirely different story. On top of that – I like to think that most people exercise for enjoyment and the health benefits… not just so they can eat more! ;-)

On Weight Watchers you can earn extra ‘activity’ points for exercise, but  I suspect there’s an assumption of a moderate amount of incidental exercise as well.


My exercise of late has been minimal. In fact the past year has been one of the slackest in my 40(ish) year history. However, as I read of people reaching their 10,000 steps-a-day goal or focusing on their incidental exercise I realise that mine is severely lacking.

In the past when I was avoiding cardiovascular exercise I was (at least) still doing pilates twice weekly. I was still walking to and from the bus or train to head into work and then from the bus or train to my office. And vice versa at the end of the day. I walked about my workplace and occasionally wandered about doing stuff with friends on weekends.

Because I now kinda work from home most days and feel obliged to tie myself to the desk as much as possible, I rarely get any incidental exercise. In fact – MOST days I don’t even go out at all. My apartment is tiny. And my desk is in my bedroom.

In fact, it occurred to me I probably spend 20-22hrs a day in my bloody bedroom.

Sure I occasionally walk to the loo or to the kitchen, but that’s it. I’d be lucky to do 1000 steps (god, even 250 steps) let alone the 10,000 recommended. On the days I work I get in my car, drive, park it at the office carpark and walk 10 steps into work. No trekking to and from public transport.

So it occurred to me – not only am I not doing any ‘exercise’ – but I’m also doing barely any incidental exercise.


I’m thinking I should get a FitBit or pedometer etc. It would be scary to see how little I move, but it might give me the jolt I need!

 Any recommendations (either for some incidental exercise) OR something to measure my efforts?

I remembered I’d previously written a post about incidental exercise – though at the time it was less about walking up a flight of stairs rather than taking a lift – and more about walking to and from the hospital where my father had been admitted. I checked out the post to see if it was relevant and had to stop and have a little sook. I didn’t know when I wrote it that my dad would never come out of hospital and that he and mum would follow me back to Brisbane (dad by Flying Doctor’s Service) and a month later we would have lost him. I’m not sure what I would have done differently but I probably wouldn’t have been so self-absorbed about bloody exercise and calories. (Am sure there’s a lesson there!)

I’m flogging my blog With Some Grace today. 

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

MyBlissPoint January 31, 2014 at 11:05 am

I use a Fitbit and I like it. I find myself using the stairs more and walking more because of it.


Debbish January 31, 2014 at 4:16 pm

I don’t fully understand what a Fitbit does (as opposed to a pedometer) but people certainly seem to love them!


Lee-Anne January 31, 2014 at 11:40 am

I would no sooner preach to you about exercise than I would jump off the Harbour Bridge (and I hate heights) .The only reason I exercise is because I have a hyper dog who is 3/4 Kelpie (remember Red Dog who ran for hundreds, thousands of kilometres around Australia?) If I don’t walk him he stalks me. So barely before I enjoy my morning cup of tea, I’m out the door, running.

Diets are horrible, my teenage daughter is trying to shed a few kilos and I’ve observed that the body goes into ‘starvation mode’ indefinitely whenever its denied food :(

The only thing I can think of is to find something you don’t hate and do it rigorously for 20 mins a day :) It may justify cake, wine, cheese and chocolate, necessary for mental well-being :D Are you still enjoying the burlesque dancing?


Debbish January 31, 2014 at 4:18 pm

In terms of ‘exercise’ exercise, I hope to again one day walk more and eventually perhaps join a gym again. I’m struggling to walk much and far at the moment but used to find it really cathartic!

I’ve only had the two burlesque lessons Lee-Anne, but yes I am enjoying it.


Char January 31, 2014 at 12:15 pm

One of my friends was given a Fitbit for Christmas and she loves it. It makes her more aware of getting those little extras in.

I know that I’m fairly active but I’ve read a lot of articles recently about the need to stay in motion through the whole day – not just that first hour in the morning. I’m so guilty of this. Feeling like me run at the beginning of the day gives me a free pass on any activity for the rest of the day. So I’ve been making a concerted effort to move more while I’m working. Stand when I can (impossible when I’m sewing but totally doable when I’m cutting out), walk rather than roll my chair around the room (oh, yes, I’m that lazy at times) and walk up the escalators at the shops. They’re just little changes but a whole lot of little changes can make a big difference.


Debbish January 31, 2014 at 5:15 pm

I agree Char and once upon a time I didn’t have to think about it. I also lived in a 3-level townhouse so constantly walked from floor to floor (every time I wanted to go to the loo etc). I tend to forget about that kind of thing and need to make more of an effort here!


Julia January 31, 2014 at 1:39 pm

I bought an UP Band last year but found it a bit inconvenient. It’s worn on your wrist and I kept getting it caught on my clothes. I look it off and put it in the drawer for a few months then then I went back to it, it had stopped working – developed “lost clock syndrome”. Reviews on line are testament to its unreliability. So short answer – don’t get that one.


Debbish January 31, 2014 at 5:16 pm

Thanks for the advice Julia – will look at other alternatives!



Grace January 31, 2014 at 3:04 pm

If stairs are an option, I try to take them. But you know, these days with the way everything is so convenient to get to with a car, I’d rather take the car. Sad, but true.


Debbish January 31, 2014 at 5:17 pm

I have one set of stairs I can take to my complex’s ground floor Grace and I do usually take them, but am sure there are other things I can think of doing and other changes I can make!


Lisa January 31, 2014 at 4:43 pm

I’m hearing you, but opposite! I’ve been running regularly for over 12 months and I’ve lost no weight at all! Admittedly my wobbly bits aren’t quite as wobbly as they used to be but I wish I could drop a dress size or two!
I guess I need to eat less, but all that running makes me hungry! :-)


Debbish January 31, 2014 at 5:18 pm

Oh dear! I’m sure you’re almost solid muscle Lisa… I’m not (never have been) a runner myself but at least you’re probably quite fit! *Looking for the positives*



Satu January 31, 2014 at 7:42 pm

Not getting incidental exercise is one of the biggest disadvantages of working from home. I think I gained several kilos when I stopped working at my department’s office. I probably got almost 10 000 steps every working day just because I walked around so much.

I’ve used an Omron pedometer for three years straight now. When I got it I basically stopped using my bike so I can clock more steps – I walk to my local grocery store, library etc. I’ve also noticed that doing window shopping is a very effective way to collect steps. :-)

On a bad day when I don’t leave my apartment I can clock as little as 1800 steps.. That doesn’t happen very often though.


Debbish January 31, 2014 at 9:58 pm

I think I’d be like that Satu… I can’t imagine how few steps I’d do on most days. I don’t really have shops etc nearby so I’ll have to think of strategies. It may just be that I need to build in a walk each day! (Which is a goal anyway!)


Carin February 1, 2014 at 12:18 am

Being a lady in her 40′s, start strength training immediately. Our metabolism doesn’t work as well. Purchase some free weights for home and use them after your walks. Also, challenge yourself with the walks. Set a goal one week for four days/ 2 miles a day or more. Those challenges re-invigorate you.


Debbish February 2, 2014 at 10:18 am

I definitely need to think about challenging myself. I actually hope to get back into Body Pump when I’m feeling a bit healthier – I know waiting is silly… but I really don’t feel ‘fit’ enough to join a gym now / get some use from it! Of course there’s nothing to stop me starting some strength stuff at home – even just squats, lunges, dips, pushups and the like….


Jo Tracey February 1, 2014 at 7:26 am

Wow, that’s something to think about. Like you, I work from a home office, so all the incidental exercise- to visit a colleague, duck out to grab a coffee, go to the shops at lunch- doesn’t exist. I work out at a gym regularly, but still kid myself that it doesn’t have to be every day. Effectively, this is a sedentary lifestyle. Lightbulb moment.


Debbish February 1, 2014 at 8:47 am

Yes… I didn’t think much about it until I kept reading about everyone’s 10,000 steps. It’s something I never needed to worry about before. When I was gymming 4-5 days a week it wasn’t even on my radar. And yet now…


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