Column: Counting steps in the stillness of January

I’ve always preferred New Year to Christmas.

Tuesday, 24th December 2019, 10:48 am

I like the emptiness the month of January brings.

After the utter chaos and stress of Christmas, the stillness is essential for our mind, body and soul.

Now, more than ever, we need to grasp the down time and embrace it - and I say that as someone who works ridiculous hours, is fuelled on ready made meals, takes no exercise, and doesn’t switch off enough from social media.

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But, in 2020 I will.

I’m fortunate that my other half not only gives me the time to do that weekend shift – a breaking news story or filing copy for the web – but she also makes me walk everywhere around Edinburgh and Fife.

My Fitbit must think it is loaned to someone else at weekends as the steps soar into five figures and all the data starts to crackle with life.

On deadline day I spend so much time at my desk, it can register near zero hourly activity - one measly red dot indicating when I got up, one at lunchtime when I nipped out to the baker’s, and then … nowt.

As far as my Fitbit is concerned, I am possibly dead. Weirdly, my heart rate remains pretty much the same regardless. If it gets any slower, it may just stop.

It took me a while to get into the Fitbit habit.

I’m naturally sceptical when it comes to new fangled things which claim to improve your health and your life.

They generally don’t, but. like lemmings, we all want one.

The data can vary wildly from one user to another.

For example, I consistently log more steps than my other half even when we walk the exact same distance.

She reckons I take daft wee baby steps and need to walk properly. I thought I’d mastered that as a toddler. The technology of 2020 tells me different...

And, in all the time I have been a Fitbitter, I have only had one boom. Well, you only climb Everest once ...

I’m under no illusions a Fitbit will make me lose weight or deliver the same benefits as a daily workout at the gym –another leisure activity I have spent a lifetime avoiding. I’ve never worked out, and have no intention of starting now. It would probably kill me.

But that wee Fitbit strapped to my wrist does throw up data which makes you think about the options.

Another late night shift hunched over a laptop while eating something which went ping – or a half hour walk along the Prom?

A crisp, quiet January gives you the option of taking stock and making some changes – nothing elaborate or drastic, but small steps that ease off the full throttle approach and let you breathe.

The older I get, the more I realise I can’t keep doing 45-50 hour shifts every week. Well, I can, but the end result is something rapidly approaching exhaustion.

So, farewell 2019. It was a blast – packed with highlights, journeys and milestones, but also utterly knackering and stressful as we saw yet more good, valued colleagues leave but drove on at the same relentless pace.

And hello 2020 – all of the above please minus the rubbish bits.