Is January a goal setting time for you? It is for Alan and me. But rather than making New Year’s resolutions that are little more than wishful thinking, we set goals that are measured with numbers. And believe me, when that goal is met, we celebrate!
2014 Goal: Move 10,000 steps a day
Last year, in the One Healthy Change a Month series, I wrote about how important it is to move our bodies. The article included tips for taking movement breaks during the day but it didn’t include ideas for measuring your progress. So I’m back to tell you about a tool that Alan and I will be using to measure how much we’ve moved on any given day. It’s called a Fitbit.
Alan and I gave each other Fibit Ones for Christmas. What’s a Fitbit? It’s a small activity tracker that measures steps taken, floors climbed, calories burned and energy expended. There are several varieties, including a Fitbit bracelet, but we like the One because it can be worn discretely under clothing, which means that we’re likely to wear it all the time, even dancing on a cruise ship.
Wearing the Fitbit has been a big eye opener. Do you know how hard it is to get in those 10,000 steps on a Montana day when winter weather is raging outside? Yes, Alan and I are pacing through the house and making needless trips up and down the stairs to reach that daily goal.
How does the Fitbit work?
The Fitbit resembles a thumb drive, but shorter. The small device fits into a rubber holder and measures your activities once it’s attached to clothing. I wear mine clipped to my bra but it can also be attached to a waistband or even placed in a pocket.
The Fitbit has a display to show progress in steps, stairs, calories and effort; but I prefer using the free app (iPhone, iPad and Android). I can also synch via a dongle that attaches to a computer or plug the Fitbit directly into a USB port on the computer.
At various times during the day, I view my progress on the app by holding the phone near the Fitbit to synch all of my steps, floors, calories, etc. When I click on the app, a dashboard appears showing my progress. It’s even color coded to indicate the amount of effort used—not all steps are created equal!
Sometimes it’s brutal to see just how little I’ve moved. That’s when the Fitbit motivates me to get moving! And I haven’t even mentioned the competition between Alan and me that has motivated us to keep on walking.
The dashboard can also be accessed online at the user’s private page at Fitbit.com. Along with viewing progress, I can log in activities that Fitbit doesn’t count (like strength training, swimming or bicycle riding) as well as weight (but I’ll be using the Fitbit wireless scale as soon as Alan sets it up). There’s an option to log in calories although I haven’t done that yet.
The Fitbit One comes with a bracelet so that it can be worn at night. Then this small device becomes a sleep monitor.
Yes, I wear my Fitbit every day. No, I haven’t made it to 10,000 steps on a consistent basis but my average number of steps is rising, so I’ll get there. And you wouldn’t believe the extra times I’ve walked up and down the stairs or walked around the house while my mid-morning cup of coffee was brewing just to see those Fitbit numbers rise.
It’s not too late to join our challenge. Click One Healthy Change a Month to read more.
And I don’t beat myself up if I don’t reach 10,000 steps a day. Instead, I use the numbers as a reminder to do better or to watch trends. Exactly what was my day like when I didn’t reach the goal? What can I do to change up my day so that I meet the goal?
There’s a social component to Fitbit as well. The online dashboard, allows users to connect with Facebook friends or send email invitations to other contacts who use a Fitbit. A community section includes discussion forums and activity groups, if you need moral support.
Alan and I will be wearing our Fitbits on trips, too. I can’t wait to see how many steps a day we walk on our trip to China in March.