Five months with the Fitbit

I bought a Fitbit in July of this year. I know it was July, not because I keep up with dates very well, but because I was teaching summer school at the time. My first day with the Fitbit at work I put in 16,000 steps in a day, and I was really happy because I thought that was the way it was going to work out all the time. Easy, I thought. Piece of cake.

I was just a little off in that assumption. I started out setting a daily goal of 12,000 steps and dropped down the 10,000 steps because I got tired of feeling like a failure all the time. The app tells you when you’ve met your goal, and I like to meet my daily goals a little more often than once a week.

I have three friends on the Fitbit network. The app lists us in order of the number of steps taken for the week. I am almost always at the bottom of the list. I’ve been busy. Life in general has been hard to keep up with. Steps are not as easy to take as one might hope.

This week, however, I reached a sort of milestone. I got an email notification from Fitbit saying that I had lost ten pounds. This was news to me. I didn’t notice losing them. This might be the first time in my life anything like that has happened. Even when I have the stomach bug, I’m pretty much trying my best to get all of the weight loss out of it I can. Pounds gained, on the other hand, tend to sneak up on me unawares on a fairly regular basis.

The reason Fitbit knows that I lost ten pounds is that a week or so after I bought the Fitbit Flex to wear on my wrist, I went back and bought the Fitbit Aria scale. Aria and I have an agreement. I don’t speak to her more than once every two or three weeks. I use another scale for more regular checkins, but Aria logs all sorts of information about me on my phone app, and I’d rather not see her graphs bouncing up and down day after day. I just want to see trends over time. More specifically, I want Aria to assure me that I am not gaining weight without realizing it.

It turns out I’m not at the moment. Instead I was losing weight without realizing it.

During these five months in which Flex and Aria have been tracking my progress, I have basically done nothing right. I have broken my own “no junk food” rule so many times I’m just grateful I don’t have the data on this. I have broken my “no snacking at work” rule. I have eaten the donuts in the break room. I have been busy and overwhelmed and eating without paying attention to myself just like all of the other times when I accidentally packed on a few extra.

I have also been a bad girl about my exercise goals. I was doing Couch-to-5k for part of this time, but I quit. I was going to an exercise class at the school fitness center, but I quit. I paid for ten weeks of yoga classes and went to about four sessions. No matter how good my intentions I just couldn’t seem to keep on track with anything.

The only thing I managed to stick with was wearing that Fitbit Flex every day. I have worn it around the clock day after day. The only time I ever take it off is when I am in the shower. That’s when I put it on the charger. That few minutes a day of charging is all it takes to keep the Flex fully powered. And that’s a good thing because I can barely remember to charge my phone at night. If I had to remember something else, I’d probably forget the phone.

Like I said, I have not excelled at this 10,000 steps per day thing. I have only moderately stuck to the plan, which is to say “inconsistently at best.” The difference it has made is just to keep me aware of the need for more movement in my day. It has made me see that even a few steps at a time will add up. Because I am wearing the Fitbit, and I can see how many steps I have so far on my phone each day, I do get up and walk around more often at work. I also go out to walk around the neighborhood even when I know I don’t have the time or energy to do more than just a few short laps up and down and around the street. I know for a fact that I go out walking more days than I otherwise would because I have a goal I am trying to meet, and I want to get as close to it as I can even if I know I might not make it to the finish line.

The biggest difference the Fitbit has made in my daily habits, though, is that I pace more. I don’t have a treadmill at home, and I haven’t been able to talk myself into using the gym at school very much. In the past, those circumstances would have meant that I just gave up. With the Fitbit app reminding me that I still need 6,000 steps for the day after I get home from work, though, sometimes I get all 6,000 just pacing around. I will turn on the TV and walk in place or jog in place while watching a show. I will walk back and forth across the living room while listening to an audiobook or while talking on the phone. These days I almost always pace while talking on the phone.

These might be small differences, and ten pounds over five months might not seem like much weight loss. I would think it was awfully slow and frustrating if I had been actively dieting. I wasn’t dieting, though. I was just pacing. And slow though it might be, if this rate of weight loss continued for a year, that would be 24 pounds lost in a year. That might seem slow to a dieter, but 24 pounds in one year would be considered rapid weight gain to someone who got surprised by a newsflash from the bathroom scales. I’d like to lose 20 pounds in the next five months, but if I lose half that, I’ll take it. If I just don’t start gaining again, I’ll take it.

I’m calling my first five months with the Fitbit a big success. All it has done is to give me some numbers to track throughout the day and to keep me mindful of what I already know about what I need to do for myself–keep in motion. As it turns out, that’s all I need it to do. Simple, but effective.

I’m not always good at following up, but I will try to let you know how the next five months go. If I’m buying new clothes in a size smaller than I’ve seen in quite a few years, I will most certainly let you know. I might even call you to go shopping with me.

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