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Staying fit tough for road warriors

VANCOUVER — It's amazing what qualifies as a workout when you're working 16 hours a day.

In fact, work has become my workout this past week. (Okay, I admit, I am counting any kind of movement that doesn't involve food as exercise.)

I am in Vancouver covering the 2010 Olympic Games, and I fear that my fitness routine has gone so far off track, I am afraid I might suffer lung burn just running to the mailbox by the time I get home.

Unfortunately, there isn't a lot I can do about my schedule, so I searched for other options.

That's when I noticed the pedometer in my press kit. I am not sure why they included that item in the pile of press material, although it did make more sense than the three packs of gum.

I didn't use it the first two days because I was delusional.

I thought I would actually have time — and energy — to run through this beautiful city. I did one short run on my second morning here, but I have been too busy to do much more than lament my more sedentary schedule thus far.

To say my food choices are limited is like saying the rain has been a bit of an inconvenience for Olympic fans here in Vancouver.

It's either eat the free gum that came in my press kit or grab something quick and devoid of nutrition at horrifying hours.

In fact, I took a little grief from my fellow desk jockeys because I succumbed to the fast-food temptation within the first week. Apparently, at events like this, there is a rule that you have to wait at least seven days to give up.

I didn't tell them that I'd surrendered at about age 4.

So the third day I put on the pedometer and figured I would never make the recommended 10,000 steps.

I walked to the press center, walked to the bus, walked to the competition, walked to another bus, walked to the press center, and walked back to my hotel. All the while I did what felt like a lifetime of sitting at a computer screen.

I was amazed when I opened the pedometer — 17,342! Are you kidding?!

And then I did a little victory dance (which does count as an extra workout). The next day: 21,244 steps. Yes! This was great! I really was working out by working.

And then I sat down and read the material that came with the nifty little gadget I've been wearing on my belt.

Among the techno-blah-blah, there it was. The punch to my ever-softening gut. Walking 10,000 steps burned 500 calories for me.

I was stunned.

Do the forces that figure out how much work we have to do to burn calories (otherwise known as biology) understand how disappointing, disheartening and disgusting it is to learn that it takes a full day of walking to burn off 500 measly calories?

That makes the candy bar (295 calories) calling my name even more unappealing than its $2 price tag. … Or should I say 2 Loonies, eh?

I was so bummed, I just wanted to give in to the grease craving. (Which is another thing that bothers me. Why is healthy food so expensive? It seems to me that saturated fats are harder to make and should cost more than fruit.)

Sure it would be easy to give up and climb aboard that shuttle bus that would drive me the mile and a half to the Main Press Center. But that's where the upside to this very demanding job comes into play.

Talking to people day in and day out who push their bodies to their physical limits for the love of sport does sort of shame you into caring about more than just how many calories you burn when you walk the stairs instead of take the elevator.

I will do the best I can under the circumstances and look for opportunities to work up a sweat (this does not include making deadline during opening ceremonies that never seem to end).

I would, however, like just a few bonus points from my new gadget for lugging around the contents of my desk, and sometimes my closet, in my backpack.