Sometime in June, I sort of spontaneously decided to buy a Fitbit.
I never had anything against fitness trackers — they always seemed kind of cool, but to me, not necessary. I figured I was active enough with running and yoga and the very occasional strength training or HIIT session.
But at some point, I started suspecting that outside of those runs (and walking Onyx twice a day), I spend most of my time on my butt, in front of the computer or TV.
Especially now that I work from home and I’m not even walking from my car to an office, across the office throughout the day for bathroom breaks or to get tea, out to lunch, or back to my car.
So I decided to get a Fitbit for a kind of experiment. I set two loose guidelines for myself:
1) I wouldn’t wear it while running.
2) I’d try not to drastically alter my non-working out activities for the first few weeks.
Why not wear it when running?
Because I figured if I did, I’d pretty easily blow past 10,000 steps every day that I ran. And the point is to force myself to be a little more active — to sit less, really — at more regular intervals throughout the day. We all know by now that “sitting is the new smoking,” right? And I’m sure most runners or people into health/fitness have also heard that working out in a single 30-45 minute burst doesn’t negate the effects of sitting for the rest of the day. (Beware: those links are way depressing.)
I also really, really like the science presented here, which basically argues that if you move “enough,” you can lose or at least maintain your weight without cutting or even tracking calories. That if you’re active enough, whatever that means, your body sort of naturally sets a healthy metabolism and cues you on what and how much to eat on its own.
And I wanted to just go about my days like normal in order to get a decent “baseline” before making tweaks to my routine and really pursuing a 10K steps/day “goal.” And…here’s what I did:
We really should throw out July 2nd – 4th; that was when I was in DC and walking all over the freaking place. Also, on the 4th I forgot to take it off before going for a 3-mile run, so the nearly 25K steps is even more skewed.
The other high step counts were on non-routine days — on the 8th, I volunteered at an event that had me on my feet and moving around almost non-stop for three hours. The 18th was Pride Weekend and Husband and I trekked across Balboa Park and back in the thunderstorm to watch (most of) the parade.
I got lucky a few other days and hit the 10K goal (they were mostly days when I was running errands instead of just working — who would expect walking around Target and Trader Joe’s involves so much walking?). But mostly? I averaged somewhere around 7K. And on days when I take Onyx for a run instead of a walk (without wearing the Fitbit)? Even lower.
So after seeing this month’s numbers (for someone who’s terrible about tracking workouts, it’s awesome to get all this data without having to really do anything), I decided to make a few changes in my routine:
1) Longer/extra walks for Onyx
We pretty much always do the same almost-a-mile loop (which takes a little of 2,000 steps, give or take), morning and afternoon. I’m going to start varying that route and making it longer in the evenings, and hopefully taking her out a third time around midday (weather permitting; I really don’t like making her walk outside when it’s balls hot out, especially with her black fur — so that might actually get easier in the fall/winter). I’m sure she won’t have any objections to this as long as I avoid walking her on the main roads (all the traffic, both cars and people, freaks her out).
2) Pacing/stretch breaks
I’m going to try a couple different apps and Chrome extensions to remind me to stand up and move around a little more often. I want to find a balance between healthy breaks and constantly interrupting my workflow. Also, instead of, say, putting a pot of water on to boil for tea and going back to my desk for the three minutes that takes, I’ll spend the entire time the water’s boiling and tea’s brewing to pace around the apartment. This will be challenging because my apartment’s small and there’s not that much room to pace, but I’ll make it work. Somehow.
3) Something to keep me going in the evenings
This is from last Wednesday:
You can see my walk with Onyx in the morning, the errands I ran right after lunch, and the longer than usual walk in the afternoon, with little bits of movement here and there in between. From 7:00 – 8:00 or, I’m moving around a bit to prepare dinner, and then…nothing until I started getting ready for bed. Husband and I were probably watching Big Bang Theory reruns or something. I’m not sure what exactly I can do in that downtime between dinner and bed — some general tidying up? — but an extra 1,400 steps wouldn’t have been hard if I’d sprinkled them around throughout the day.
My goal is, after a few months of putting these into practice, I’ll actually be able to bump up my daily goal to 15K steps/day.
And no, I won’t bore you with these Fitbit update posts every months. I might share another one towards the end of the year (six months in?), but that’s probably it.
Do you use a Fitbit or other step/fitness/activity tracker? What do you think about it?