byte me

Like many of my contemporaries, I’m on a diet right now. The diet is based on the one popularised by an obese undertaker in 1863 (William Banting). After getting advice from none other than Dr. William Harvey, who had in turn got his advice from a French physiologist who has been dubbed one of the greatest men of science.

Dieting has come a long way since these gentlemen were preaching low carbs and cutting out sugar. Society hasn’t though. We seem to be unable to control our urges still. That’s were apps come into play. Did you know there’s an app to discover just what all those ingredients do to you? And there’s an app to calculate how many calories you are allowed to eat for specific goals. There’s an app for just about everything.

Part and parcel of dieting for weight loss is the need for regular exercise. Walking is a good way to increase this particular diet’s efficacy. I live in a lovely neighbourhood that’s as safe as can be in Jozi, so it’s a simple matter of walking out my gate and wondering the streets with intent. My partner in crime has decided that two kilometres is the minimum distance one must walk in order for walking to be effective, so a few evenings ago, I asked him if he felt like going for a walk to check a route and distances. I suggested we could walk with metre-long steps and count them. Oh no, he said, that’s a silly way of doing it, we need the app.

App? To show us how to walk?

Yesterday I downloaded the app. It wanted to know all sorts of things like what my goals were and my grandmother’s favourite pudding. No, really, but it asked me everything, which means that all my deepest weight loss desires are sitting on a server somewhere.

When I’d eventually got the thing going, it said ‘tap to begin your activity’, which I duly did and set off marching down the road. However, in my enthusiasm, I’d moved a bit quickly for the app as it began counting me down after I’d already walked a few metres – ‘5,4,3,2,1, you have begun your activity’ in an annoyingly up-beat American accent. I would have much preferred a gorgeous Jamaican accent saying something like, ‘Ja man let’s do da ting’.

While on my walk I was way-laid by a sweet little thing offering home visits for pedi- and manicures. I stopped to listen to her pitch and that was obviously enough of a break in movement for my app because it started quoting all sorts of information at me – how long I’ve been walking, how far I’ve walked, how many calories I’d walked off. She just wouldn’t shut up. Thank goodness she didn’t quote how much I could expect to weigh now based on my little stroll.

I managed to walk 1,2 kilometres in a short space of time. This has got my partner so excited that he’s insisting we go off to buy the right foot gear for our walks. I’m dreading it. Firstly, it’s the last Saturday of the month, so any store is going to be excruciatingly packed (wondering about the economy? Just go to a shopping centre – nobody is window shopping). Secondly I’m going to have to spend my weight in a pair of shoes I wouldn’t normally be seen dead in (I know, some people regard running shoes a fashion item, I’m more of a funky boot person) that probably have some kind of pink stripe along the side.

Now I’m going to be obliged to listen to an annoying American woman counting me down each morning while I march off into the sunrise wearing a brightly ugly pair of shoes that cost enough to feed a small family for a few months, all because some fat undertaker decided banting was cool.

I think I’m going to become a gardener so I can grow my own food and won’t have to scour the earth each day for something that’s got no added anything – just pure natural goodness. I’ll march around my garden in gumboots wearing a purple hat and the only voice encouraging me will be Bob Marley crooning, no woman no cry.

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