Since I got my Fitbit in December, my life has drastically changed. Some things have been coincidental, some have been directly caused by the device. For instance, I had decided that I need to move more often when I am at home and working at my computer for the major part of the day. Fitbit merely let me see the drastic difference between my movement both in the number of steps and in flights of stairs when I am teaching skiing and when I am at my desk.
My decision to walk for five minutes every hour was based on things I have read about the necessity to move throughout the day if one is in a sedentary job. Fitbit helps me keep on track with this decision by alerting me if the hour is about to end and I have not walked a minimum of 250 steps. However, this is a self-directed goal. If somehow I have achieved Fitbit’s hourly goal, I must keep an eye on the clock, myself.
Five minutes an hour is not much, but done regularly it adds up. On the days that I am home, I do the walk between 8 and 12 times. That is 40 to 60 minutes of walking. It is not the same as going out for that length of time at a stretch, but it is something and takes very little away from my work. I begin most days with the short, brisk walk. While I am walking, I stand tall and breathe deeply. My pulse rate rises briefly. I feel better not only while I am moving, but also throughout the day.
Before I had my own step-counter, I would often, at least mentally, make gentle fun of people who were trying to attain a certain number of steps and going to what I considered extremes to do so. For some time I have been aware of the number of steps I take in a day but resisted the urging of my little machine to go the default number of 10,000. This is a number that the American Heart Association has deemed all of us should be achieving each day. In fact, beginning with the Japanese, 10,000 steps has been accepted across the world as the gold-standard of healthy movement.
I have rarely taken 10,000 counted steps. (Fitbit does not pick up every step, nor does it always count the same stairs each time I climb them.) I usually get in the 5, 6 or 7 thousands. This week I decided to increase the amount that I walk. A big factor in the decision is that my ski season is ending, and I will need an incentive to increase my basic exercise on a daily basis. After much internal debate, I decided to set my own goal at 8000 steps a day. If this becomes my norm, I will raise that to 9000, and eventually 10,000. If it becomes my norm. That was my caveat. If.
The first day of my goal, I walked 8011 steps. It was a fairly active off-slope day. The second day I spent driving to several meetings and got in only a bit over 5000. This should have been fine, because I had only set the goal as an encouragement to move, and could not expect to drive to and sit through more than one meeting and still move around a lot. It was certainly a quantity that had been within my usual accomplishment. But, I was disappointed.
Yesterday, the third day after setting my own goal, I decided to up the ante of my hourly 5-minute walk, by taking the time to put on my boots and jacket, gloves and hat, and venturing outside to walk around my house. Five times. Each trip consumes approximately 200 steps. I questioned my motives. Last night my total steps were over 7600. I had to fight to not trudge around my inside track to make those extra 300 and something steps. Exercising just before bed is not conducive to falling asleep. Two of my goals were in conflict.
You would think that I would have known I could not just let things happen. My intention of simply having the goal, seeing how often I achieved the goal, and gradually doing more had lasted for merely two days. Now, I was not looking at the success of moving for the agreed upon number of steps, now I was looking at my failure to do so. My carrot had become a stick.
Of course, this is not a bad thing. Fitbit has changed a lot of what I do. One goal I had prior to the acquisition of my erstwhile inquisitor was to lose weight. I have done very little overtly to do so, but by being aware of what I am eating (although I have stopped keeping track of what I eat on the Fitbit site) and having my weight announced each time I open the app, I have lost a few pounds. I am over half-way to my goal.
Increasing my water intake has very likely had an impact on my weight. Instead of drinking juice with both my lunch and dinner, I now drink water at one meal. The extra water also makes me feel fuller, so I might be eating slightly less. Whatever the causes, losing weight has been painless and required little attention to my actual changes in eating.
Starting today, I most likely will be found trudging through the snow around my house twice a day. Getting in those steps!