I confess. I LOVE MY FITBIT.
I know I am not the first person to write about fitness tracking devices, or even the fitbit. There are many opinions about which are the best and which are not, what they do and don’t do, why you should get one and why you shouldn’t. I will speak only for myself.
Ever since I got my fitbit we have been inseparable. About a year ago, I noticed my dentist had a black band around his wrist that wasn’t a watch nor anything I had ever seen before. As soon as I asked him about it, he ran to retrieve his cell phone to show me how he tracked his steps and his sleep activity using it and the fitbit app on his phone. He loved it and sang it’s praises. As a fitness enthusiast myself and with a price so reasonable ($99), I went right out and got one.
Immediately I could see how many steps I was taking in a day and how many hours of sleep I got the night before, net of restless or awake minutes. I was surprised at the fluctuations from day to day in my step count and soon set a goal to walk 10,000 steps per day (about 4.25 miles). I am a goal-oriented person so this was a great motivator!
As for sleep, I became aware of how restlessness affects the quality and quantity of one’s sleep and how even though we’re in bed for a certain number of hours, our true sleep could be significantly less. I also became more aware of how a bad night of sleep affected my abilities the next day, both physically and mentally. All really good information upon which to make changes.
All of this is great, but usually we lose interest in gadgets over a relatively short period of time. I expected this might be the case for my beloved fitbit, but NO. It has been about a year, perhaps a bit longer, and I rely on my fitbit more than ever. Here are some of the stats from my latest weekly report I received via email from fitbit:
Total Steps: 88,134 Daily Average: 12,591 Best Day: 14,747
Total Distance: 37.35 miles Daily Average: 5.34 Best Day: 6.25
Total Cals Burned: 14,466 Daily Average: 2,067 calls Best Day: 2,193 cals
My step counts have increased over time, but not always so. There are days when I’m traveling (by car, plane) that I just can’t get in as many steps as I would like. But I’m still happy to have the information so that I can choose to walk more later, or take the stairs instead of the elevator, or take an evening walk after dinner instead of something more sedentary. It’s simply information but information I use to my advantage as motivation everyday!
Recently my fitbit helped me solve a little mystery. I have always wondered why, when we travel, we can forgo our usual daily workouts for up to 3 weeks, eat whatever we want (which is a lot) and arrive home without gaining a pound. I had to speculate that it was explainable by all of the walking we generally do on our trips, but I had nothing to support that theory. Upon just returning recently from a 3 week trip to Asia, for the first time I had data to support my theory. Reviewing my weekly fitbit reports that I receive by email, I realized that we were walking on average 14,000 to 16,000 steps most days, far above the 10,000 steps I generally try to meet. That’s a significant difference and likely makes up for the incremental indulging we do in local foods. I decided to try to experiment with this now at home. Could I increase my walking significantly at home, to the same approximate # of steps we walked on our trip, and eat anything I wanted everyday? I had convinced myself that perhaps this was the panacea for dieting and that I would never have to think about what I ate again!
Well, of course that was a bit of wishful thinking but I fully enjoyed the freedom of the experiment. The first problem was I couldn’t easily get even 14,000 steps into my everyday as I wasn’t on vacation and actually had responsibilities and other things I needed to do with my time. Secondly, with a somewhat impaired right knee (see Marathon blog post!), this level of activity proved excessive over an extended period for my knee as a variety of types of activities is better for me (such as riding a stationery bike). So, as always there is no magic bullet for staying in shape and maintaining ideal weight but exercise and nutrition in moderation.
I am grateful for the useful information I glean from my fitbit everyday. It is virtually unnoticeable to wear and use and continues to motivate me to make better decisions about taking care of myself. I have learned to wear it on my ankle when I ride my stationery bike and have even purchased some additional bands in different colors as one of mine is wearing out. I have purchased them as gifts for family members and recommended them to friends. I use the information in real time as it automatically syncs to my cell phone. The only time I take it off is when I’m in water (even though it’s waterproof, I have read that they don’t last as long when getting wet regularly) or when I’m charging the battery. Otherwise, my fitbit and I are inseparable!