I've finally succumbed to the FitBit craze. I won't get off the couch without this criminal-tracking-device looking band around my wrist, counting every step I make. Actually, every swing of my arm, thus I feel cheated walking through Costco pushing that big heavy cart, because my arm is staying still, so I make my kids push the cart so I get my steps counted. And contrary to all my hopes in which I invested $120 - I haven't lost a pound since I got this thing two weeks ago.
I got my FitBit for the same reason we’ve been doing stuff since we were 6 years old: I didn't want to be left out any longer. Not knowing how many steps I'd taken in a day, not being able to confirm that I had been as lazy as I imagined. But the previous FitBit models, though in much cuter colors (like pink!) only had a row of lights and had to be synced to your phone. I'm not one of those people who always have, or can locate, their phone and I didn't want to be tethered to the phone to see all my stats, so I never got one. Then I came across the FitBit Charge. A little research revealed that this was a re-issued design, perhaps for others like me who wanted everything on their wrist, not in the phone. The Charge has a regular and a heart-rate model. It has a digital screen that displays the time, number of steps, miles, number of stairs, and calories. You can also time and measure a particular activity, for instance, if you are going on a run. You can get more details, track your food, track your sleep, designate whether you are wearing it on your dominant or non-dominant arm etc. online or on the app.
So what’s all the hoopla about? How has this band changed my life? Here’s how it works.
10,000 steps is the magic number
The pre-determined goal is to walk 10,000 steps per day. You remember awhile back when some doctor person announced that that was the magic number of healthfulness? That’s the FitBit number. If you get to 9900, keep on moving, walk around the living room, run in place – you’re so close! You also can adjust higher if you are that overachiever.
It’s all about the buzz and badges.
If you make 10,000 steps, the FitBit vibrates, buzzes and flashes. “You did it!” There’s some sense of accomplishment. When you hit certain milestones – the most steps you’ve walked, 20,000 steps, etc. – you get a badge (like in Girl Scouts) on your profile page. You can take pride in your virtual pat on the back. Unlike the current wave of every kid gets a trophy, if you do not get 10,000 steps, you get nothing. No buzz, no light, not even a “good try” light. Nothing but a sense of “I knew I should’ve parked in that farthest parking space.”
You don’t get credit for everything.
Swam across the lake? Biked up the mountain? Squated 500 times? Ran on the treadmill? No credit. If your arm doesn’t move, you get nothing. And since it’s not water-proof, all those laps swam don’t give you any steps either. One lady told me she attaches it to her shoe when she’s doing non-arm-moving exercises. But the worst - when you forget your FitBit! Ugh. I went out the other day (rushing, as usual) and forgot to grab it. I do not lie when I say I was ready to turn around, go home and not take another step 'til that thing was strapped to my arm. Such is life though, right? Sometimes the good you do goes unnoticed. (A little #FitBitPhilosphy there.)
It makes you admit to your laziness.
I'm a busy mom and do move around a lot, or it seems like it. But other than housework, a lot of my busyness is driving. As a writer and blogger, well, that doesn't take much more movement than going to refill my coffee cup. So realistically, I could sit still all day long. And I often do. And then I rationalize my non-movement as still being productive as I get a scoop of ice cream. This thing reminds me to get up every now and then, walk the dog, go check the (real) mail, walk upstairs to get that thing I need rather than doing without. A 2-mile run in the morning has been my goal, this FitBit thing is a visual reminder.
It invites your family to remind you of your goal.
My kids and husband ask me “how far have you walked today?” On the one hand, their interest is sweet and supportive. On the other, that interest can morph into “I’d go upstairs and get that book you want, but I want to you to get your steps in, so I’ll continue to watch TV while you go get it.” But every now and then it becomes “hey, Mommy, let’s go for a walk so you can finish your steps.” And that right there is worth 10,000 steps and more.
FitBit or another brand of step-counter or nothing at all - the message is get up and move. And drag your family along.