“You’re going to love this!!” Scott crowed when he got home, “This is going to change your life!”
And he gave me. . . a pedometer. A very expensive pedometer that we never in a million years would have bought for ourselves, but took when his workplace offered it for free.
But the Fitbit is not just a pedometer, it’s also an altimeter which logs how many flights of stairs I walk, a calorie counter that shows how many calories I’ve burned, and a cheerleader that flashes little messages when I pick it up after it’s been lying fallow. Most interesting, at night, when you wear it on your non-dominant hand, it measures how well and how long you sleep. Plus it syncs online.
Scott was right. The Fitbit has changed my life AND my marriage. The first day, when Scott learned that I had climbed 5 more flights of stairs than him, he promptly ran up and down our stairs 6 times.
According to Fitbit, I’m supposed to walk 10,000 steps a day, climb 10 flights of stairs, and burn 2,184 calories. The steps and the calories have been quite the stretch. In order to hit 10,000 steps each day, I generally have to take an extra 2 mile walk downtown and back.
The 2,184 calorie goal feels astronomically out of reach. As a middle-aged, small-boned, Asian female, I need about 1400 calories/day to survive. That’s dieting for most Americans. An intensive hour-long spinning class burns 400 calories (300 according to Fitbit). So I’d need to spin for 2 hours every day to hit that calorie goal. Not happening.
But I have achieved some impressive milestones including:
- 33,387 steps walking Paris one day (which according to Fitbit was equivalent to 12+ miles and 2400 calories)
- Climbing 201 flights of stairs the day we hiked Mt. Monadnock
- Averaging 6.21 hours of sleep in September (talking too much in bed with my sister while in Paris)
Why do I love my Fitbit? Is it some legalistic workaholic strain in me that wants to obsessively measure my achievement? Probably. But I also love it because it gives me a daily read on reality.
Until I read Gretchen Reynolds’ The First 20 Minutes: Surprising Science Reveals how we can: Exercise Better, Train Smarter, Live Longer, I thought of myself as quite fit because I exercise 5-6 times a week. But Reynolds writes that sitting is the new sugar—poison to our bodies. Blood pools in our legs, our metabolism slows down, electrical activity in our leg muscles shut down. Even those who exercise vigorously 7 hours/week experience deleterious effects on their health if they sit for more than 3 hours straight on a regular basis.
Well that’s me. Between sitting at my computer, sitting at coffee shops, and sitting through breakfasts, lunches and conference calls, my life is sitting.
The good news, according to Reynolds, is that if we get up and walk for a minute every 20 minutes or so, we can mitigate all the bad effects of sitting. My Fitbit keeps me accountable and stretches my goals. I’ve even walked a couple conference calls!
Unfortunately, I sprained my ankle in Paris and have been hobbling ever since, sending my Fitbit scores to the lowest depths of all. The only good part about spraining my ankle? Scott can’t boast every day how he’s beaten me by 4,000 steps and 5 flights of stairs.
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