Just about a year ago, I bought my Fitbit Zip. Whatâ€™s a FitBit? A funky little pedometer with its own app and social component. I like the pedometer part, but it’s the stats and bar graphs that I truly love. (Beancounter much?)
So far Iâ€™m as impressed with the fact that Iâ€™ve stuck with it for a year as I am with the Fitbit itself. My original intent was to spurn myself into moving more often, one of my perennial goals. I am a slothful person by nature and can easily go hours without moving more than my mouse hand and shifting occasionally in my chair. Although there is a social component, I donâ€™t find myself particularly motivated to move more because of any competitive aspect (two of the people in my circle are high achievers in the step department, one training for a marathon and the other found 10K steps per day too easy so sheâ€™s aiming for 15K per day) but because I like to count things and I like the little pat on the head I can give myself when I achieve or even approach my daily goal.
On a day at the office, I put in 5,000 to 6,000 steps in fits and starts, and walking the dog is good for another 1500 to 2K – less lately since I hate how slippery the roads are right now. Iâ€™m aiming for 10,000 per day, which I reach about once every 10 days or so. Since our house is relatively small â€“ 10 steps to the kitchen and 30 to the bedroom from the living room â€“ I donâ€™t put in a lot of steps if Iâ€™m just puttering around the house. Cutting the lawn is good for about 4K, though, and a walk into town is good for 2K, so Iâ€™m trying to do that more on my days off. You can also add other activities like folding the laundry, shovelling the driveway or using the rowing machine so you get credit for extra calories burned and â€œactive minutesâ€. Iâ€™m beginning to focus more on the active minutes each day than the steps themselves â€“ Fitbit monitors the intensity of your movements and sets a baseline goal of 30 active minutes per day which I seem to reach most days, so Iâ€™m bumping my goal up to 45 minutes for the new year.
Itâ€™s interesting to me that I am more accountable to the little hunk of plastic and circuitry in my pocket than I am to myself for the sake of better health. If I am wearing the Fitbit, I will take the stairs or take a circuitous route to my destination, but I am more likely to slack off if I know the steps arenâ€™t being counted. Iâ€™m pretty good at remembering to put it into my pocket each day and it has survived at least (ahem, ONLY) three trips through the washing machine.
So what are the results? You can see how my activity has gradually increased during the year, for the most part. (The big gap in the middle is where I misplaced it for about six weeks when it got tucked into a hoodie pocket on a cool day in June and rediscovered it on the next cool day in August, and I’ve had the Fitbit die on me a few times, which accounts for the other significant gaps in the spring and recently, but Fitbit has been awesome about replacing the unit free of charge when I had trouble.)
Iâ€™m much more conscious of my daily activity level, which is excellent (as long as I am goosing myself to move to achieve my daily goal.) During a two month stretch in the fall when I was particularly active and reaching my 10K steps a couple times each week, I dropped three pounds â€“ but then the weather crapped out and I kind of ate my progress back in shortbread and Belovedâ€™s chocolate chip cookies over the holidays. The coincidence of holiday baking and icy sidewalks has not been kind to my progress.
Itâ€™s a new year, though, and my three main goals for myself (I donâ€™t really favour resolutions) are more veggies, more real (as opposed to pre-packaged) foods, and more walking. Hereâ€™s hoping youâ€™ll be seeing less of me by spring. Even if I donâ€™t loose that pesky 10 lbs or so, though, Iâ€™ll be healthier and happier because Iâ€™m taking care of myself.
Lots of people seem to have picked up a Fitbit over the holidays â€“ ping me if you want a buddy who isnâ€™t training for a marathon or a compulsive long-distance walker!
Edited to add: While this is a spontaneous and un-sponsored post, I just noticed that Rebecca from Playground Confidential has a giveaway starting today for a FitBit Flex, which is one version up from my Fitbit Zip. Check it out!