Friday, May 4, 2012

May Photos, Day 3—Something You Wore Today

3. Something I wore today

Yesterday, when I was looking through the prompt list to see what today’s photo topic would be, I told myself to remember to wear something interesting or unusual or at least photo worthy in some way.  But, I had an appointment this morning, and, honestly, the only thing I was thinking about when I was getting dressed was how I really should’ve gone to bed earlier last night.  Needless to say, the jeans and t-shirt I threw on to get out the door were nothing to write home about.

But, later in the afternoon, I was checking my step count (as I often do throughout the day) when it hit me: Fitbit was the perfect topic for my daily pic, because it’s not just something I was wearing today; it’s something I wear every day.  Heck, it’s practically attached.  And, once I realized it was the photo of the day, I also realized it was finally time to write about the nifty gadget here.

I know I’ve mentioned fitbit in passing before, and it even made my list of things to be thankful for last year, but I’ve never really given it its due.  I think it’s time to change that.

But, to tell the story of my fitbit (or, fitty, as he’s often affectionately dubbed), we have to revisit the story of my weight.  It isn’t a pretty one, so I won’t dwell on it long; let’s just say that I needed to lose some weight.  I got serious about that goal back in January of 2011.

Now, the problem with my weight is (at least) two-fold: I like to eat junk food and I don’t particularly care to move around much.  It doesn’t take a registered dietician or professional trainer to know that’s a bad combination.  But last year (or maybe even late in 2010), I ran across the (not new) idea that simple walking could have huge benefits for both weight loss endeavors as well as general health.  I read an article that said two things that finally stuck with me: 

1) In general, walking ten thousand steps per day is a good idea

2) If a person could increase their daily step count even 50 or 100 steps a day—no more than an extra couple of trips to the coffee machine, bathroom, whatever—they would see exponential growth in their step count. (I don’t honestly remember the exact numbers that are achieved, and I’m too tired to do the math.)

Well, even to a confirmed couch potato like myself, an extra fifty steps a day didn’t sound like such a big deal, and if it could really help . . .  Enter the first of the cheapo pedometers purchased at the discount store.  I started keeping track of my steps (nowhere near 10K), and setting a goal to increase each day.  Of course, some days I made it and some days I didn’t, but the overall trend was improving.

The problem with cheapo pedometers, though, is that they’re, well, cheap.  The displays go out.  They get jostled around too much and stop counting steps correctly.  They break (easily) when they get dropped.  I needed something better.

As it turns out, my first foray into decent fitness tracking didn’t work out too well.  My next pedometer was an armband type, and it was not only sort of uncomfortable, but it ultimately turned out that I had an allergy to its material.  But I couldn’t bring myself to shell out even another five bucks for a step counter that I knew wasn’t going to last.




Enter Fitbit





Somewhere during that time, I was browsing the web (I’ve mentioned my adoration for the Internet, right?) and found a mention of this handy-dandy gadget called a fitbit.  “A pedometer on steroids” seemed to be the general consensus.  Not only would it would count steps, but also distance, calorie burn, overall activity level, and even track your sleep.  And all of this data would sync wirelessly to their website and deliver colorful charts so that you could monitor your fitness.  Wow.  But they had me at “count steps”.  (The latest model has been bulked up a little more and even counts flights of stairs.)



My dashboard display this evening.



I shelled out a hundred bucks and anxiously waited for it to be delivered.  In the meantime, I set up my online account and started browsing around their site.  And what I quickly discovered was that the nifty technology was enhanced by a helpful and welcoming community.  On the fitbit site you can log your food intake, examine all your activity charts, look at your sleep records—more information than you can shake a stick at, as my Granny would say.  But you can also browse the user forums to get answers to usage questions, insight on what diet/exercise plan is working for others, or just a bit of encouragement when you’re feeling down.


Still, even with all those bells and whistles, what amazed me about fitty was how this little piece of technology was able to get me moving. (That continues to amaze me to this day.)  Not like becoming a gym rat, or anything, just moving more than I’d done before.  When I first got fitbit, my daily step count was less than five thousand—not even half of what the experts recommend.  But fitty made me want to get my numbers higher.  I was taking those extra trips to the bathroom, parking a little farther away from the door—anything to get in a few more steps.  Within a couple of weeks, I had my first 10K day.  Then a few more, and a few more.  After a few months, it didn’t even seem all that difficult anymore.  That’s fitbit brainwashing though; every now and then, I still have days where I give in to my slugdom, and it’s really easy for me to drop back below ten thousand.  But fitty is my forever friend because he doesn’t let me have those days very often.

So, you ask, what about the weight?  That was the whole point, right?  Well, I’ve lost just over 60 pounds, 35+ of that since I got fitbit just about a year ago.  Sure, I could wish the pounds were dropping quicker, and I could wish fitbit was some sort of magic wand that would make the whole process effortless, but the truth is, I gained my excess weight slowly and it’s coming off the same way.  And fitbit doesn’t do the work for you; it’s a tool to help measure your fitness, not actually create it.  But it does encourage and motivate, and as anyone who’s ever tried to lose weight knows, keeping that motivation is almost always the difference between success and failure.  Fitbit stacks the deck in my favor, and—if I may mix metaphors for a moment—I’m glad he’s in my corner.


  1. WTG!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I LOVE walking and I got into it at the about the same time as you except that I was laid up about June last year for about 3 months - I got awful sciatica and for a while could hardly walk

    however got into it again as fast as I could
    Ive been having some wonderful 5km walks this week :)

    keep it up girl!!!!!!!!!

  2. Thanks! One of these days, when I finally lose the last of the extra pounds (knock wood), I'll have to do a before & after post. It's been quite the journey. ;-)

    And I don't think I've ever done 5k--which I think is just over 3 miles--but my longer strolls have taken me to the 2.5 mile mark, so I'll be there someday.

    But sciatica? Boo. Glad you recovered and could get back to walking.