Counting steps 

I started hearing about step counters a few years ago. I immediately decided they were not for me. I think they’re great for someone who is very sedentary and trying to get more activity into their life, but since I already exercise every day and am consistent with it and did not need more motivation to do it, I didn’t see the point. 

Then, a few weeks ago, I got a new iPhone and noticed it had a step counter included. I decided to start keeping an eye on it, just because I was curious. It quickly got quite obsessive, watching how many steps I was taking, setting goals for myself. Doing in my phone was also annoying though. There are plenty of times during the day that I set my phone down, like when I’m getting ready in the morning and evening, cooking meals, doing laundry, and walking around my office. It annoyed me to know I was losing steps at those times, but it was hard to always have my phone with me, especially when I did not have pockets. I started shoving it in my bra, but didn’t really feel like that was a very safe thing!
So I started exploring step counters the other day, and when I discovered they were 25% off, I grabbed one.

I ended up with the Fitbit one. I know the bracelet models are more popular, but I honestly just don’t like them. I just don’t like the way they look. I like the way my wrists are currently adorned, with my watch and Tiffany bracelet on one wrist, and my Foxy Originals Thoreau bracelet on the other. I didn’t really want to change that! The Fitbit one easily fits on my bra, between my breasts so that it does not make any bumps and is undetectable! 

Anyway, when I first got the Fitbit, I was thrilled. It was so nice to have all my steps counted, morning to night, without always worrying about grabbing my phone. I get about 2000 more steps a day than I did when I was using my phone!

It also tracks my sleep habits, which is interesting, but not necessarily a good thing. I’ve only had it since Thursday, and I tend to sleep much better on nights when I do not have work the next day. Since I had most of the day off Friday, I haven’t really got a good picture of my usual sleep habits. That said, I know they’re not very good (I fall asleep around 11pm every night, and I’m usually up and unable to get back to sleep by 5-6am. I am also quite restless when I sleep and know that I wake up often). Since the Fitbit does not have any functionality to actually change that, I’m not sure how helpful that is going to be for me to see proof that I get 5 to 6 broken hours of sleep on weeknights! That said, so far watching my sleep habits has been interesting.

There are also a few things I don’t like about the Fitbit:

1. First of all, when I first got on it I immediately friended people with it. Within a couple days, I realize that is not for me! I can get very competitive when it comes to fitness and health, and although some people would call it “healthy” competition, it’s not healthy for me. I easily get obsessed, and watching what other people are doing makes me more so, in a way I don’t like. I don’t want to feel guilty for sitting down and reading a good book, because I see that one of my friends has more steps than I do and I want to catch up. I don’t want want to feel bad about friends for taking more (or less) steps than me. But that’s the way I started feeling! Not a good way to feel. Not one that I consider healthy. So, no more Fitbit friends (I stopped having myfitnesspal friends a long time ago, for the same reason! I know a lot of people say that they do better at the losing weight and being active with a group, but for me I do better solo. I like having like-minded friends to encourage and motivate healthy habits, but I don’t like having enough information to actually compare myself with them! Nothing good ever comes of that for me!) 

2. Another thing I don’t like is the way in interacts with myfitnesspal. It gives me several hundred more calories a day to eat. I certainly don’t want getting a fitbit to make me eat more and not meet my goals! I usually eat some but not all of my exercise calories, but I have never eaten extra calories for daily walking around and activity, and I don’t think the fact that I am now tracking that activity should change that! So I’ve disconnected Fitbit from MFP, so I don’t have to look at those calories and be tempted by then! Most often, they would probably lead to an extra glass of wine…

3. Some of my favorite exercises do not have many steps, these include spinning, weight lifting and yoga. These are great exercises…but there is only so much time to work out in a day. Having a step counter encourages me to do the workouts that get me more steps (especially when I am comparing my steps to those of others, which I have stopped!). I do not want to get out of the habit of doing Yoga and Weight lifting, two things that are great for me, because they do not give me enough steps and it is hard t make that up, especially on workdays. Running, on the other hand, piles them up…but I have learned int he past, daily running is not good for me! I think I need to adjust my steps goals in my had for the days that my exercise does not include may steps…because this exercise and activity is no less important, even if it does lower my step count (and take time that could otherwise be used pacing my kitchen or going for a walk)!

The final word, for now:

I don’t think step counting has changed my habits an awful lot. I have always (well, since 2010 or so) tried to get up and walk a lot during the day, and use the stairs a lot. I’m sure I am moving around a bit more than I normally would, to get more steps, but it’s probably not enough to make a big big difference to my health and fitness. I think for someone who’s very sedentary and then gets a Fitbit and starts making goals for themselves, this would probably be different. I think for even for somebody who’s sedentary except for dedicated exercise, it could really help. That’s not me, I don’t think! Some of my more observant colleagues have noticed that I always seem to be walking around the office, and it’s true, I do as much as I can while still getting my job done. One reason is because I’m very social, but the other is because I don’t like to sit at my desk all day. For the obvious reasons, but also for fitness!

In retrospect, I’m actually a little angry at myself for getting sucked into buying a Fitbit. Counting my steps on my phone was fun, and yes I guess it was annoying to not catch all my steps, but was a really annoying enough to warrant spending $75 on an item that will catch them all? Probably not. Not for me anyway. I doubt it will change my lifestyle, weight or fitness much at all…and I’ve already disconnected half the things that people like about it, like syncing it with myfitnesspal and having Fitbit friends.

Oh well, I guess I will keep using it for the next month or two, and see what happens. If I find that it really is having a positive impact on my health and fitness, without having a negative impact on my emotional health, I will keep using it. Otherwise, Ihope it has a good resale value or I can find a friend who would like one!

Stuff going on 

I know. It’s been a long long time. Oh well, life is like that.
Some updates:
1. I hide lost 6lbs since my sugar detox. I’m so happy, my clothing is fitting better and if I stay like this in very pleased (though ideally I’ll lose 5-10 more pounds to get close to my ideal again). It’s pretty amazing how quickly and easily I adjusted to less added sugar and less sweetness in general. Yesterday I stopped at Starbucks to get some teacher’s gifts, and decided to get a iced skinny vanilla latte. It’s sugarfree, but I’m sure it’s got crappy sweeteners in it, so I asked for half sweet. It still tasted way too sweet! I don’t know how I drank them with the full amount of syrup!

2. I have a new favourite recipe site, vegan stoner. The recipes are quick, easy and tasty. I made peanut stew last night and it was so awesome!

3. I continue to experiment with layering necklaces. 4 layered silver chains today, I think it looks great!

4. I’m reading a book called The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah. It is a historical fiction set in occupied France during WWII and incredible.

Life lessons 

I have, unfortunately, dealt with a lot of difficult situations in the past couple years, both personally and professionally.

As a result, I have had to do a lot of thinking about the relationships in my life. About how I respond to people, and how they respond to me. About what I expect from people, and what they can expect from me.

I’ve learned some lessons. They may not be right for everybody, but they’re right for me.

I really think they all come down to one underlying message though. 

“We are only responsible for ourselves. We are not responsible for the actions of others, and we cannot change them no matter how much we want to. What we can choose to do is think differently about them, and respond differently to them.”

Recognizing this has been a big change for me. I have spent much of my life expecting people to do the right thing; and being resentful, hurt, and angry when they didn’t. Making assumptions about what kind of people they are, or how they feel about me, based on their action or inaction.

This is no more. If I want something from someone, I ask for it. If they reject me, I can decide how I feel about that. Deciding how I feel about them based on them not reaching out to me, that’s just not fair. Assuming they do not care about me, or are not caring people because they don’t reach out, is also not fair. I’m not in a position to make that judgement, and have no reason to assume the worst. Really, people are usually just busy and tied up in their own lives. 

This is also changed the way I react to other people’s needs. Constantly reaching out, constantly being there or showing I care is exhausting, and often feels intrusive. Often when people say “no”, I feel like they mean “yes, but please insist”. I’ve done this too. 

But not anymore. Instead, I do what makes sense and seems reasonable. If I offer to do something and am told “no”, no it is. If people want more from me, they can choose to be resentful that they aren’t getting it, or they can choose to reach out and ask. That’s out of my control. What is in the my control is to no longer treat conversation like a game, expect others to be mind readers, or let others expect it of me. 

Lastly I’ve learned that more is not always more, even in times of crisis. One can check in too much, call too much, offer too much, and expect too much. Sometimes, less means more. It is more sincere, more meaningful, more easily given and received. 

sugar free? sugar less? less sugar!

Over the past week I have been participating in a 5 day clean eating challenge in a facebook group. Basically eating no processed foods, no added sugar, no refined carbs, no alcohol, etc. Lots of protein, fruits and veggies.

I didn’t talk about it, because I wasn’t sure I would do it, but I did. It wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought, and I felt great.

I think it was good for me, and although I have no desire to be a 100% clean eater (I value moderation and balance in most things, including diet) I do hope to keep up some of the habits I started.

I definitely plan to continue to have a breakfast that is high in protein and low in sugar, as opposed to in the past…where my breakfast was always something sweetened, usually either yogurt or kefir (then a morning snack of fruit a few hours later). Nothing horribly wrong with sweetened yogurt or kefir, as a sometimes treat, but it’s definitely not something I should be eating every day as a staple of my diet. This week I’ve either been having one egg with a sprinkle of cheese, or plain unsweetened yogurt with some fruit, and I plan to keep that up! I bought some plain unsweetened Kefir today, I’ll test it tomorrow.

As well, I plan to continue to use a splash of milk in my coffee…maybe working towards drinking black…instead of those disgusting fat free coffee whiteners I’ve been addicted to for years. I’ve always wanted to get off them (just buying them embarrasses me, not for the sugar but the fact that I think they are somebody’s science project, super processed), but they just tasted so good! Forcing myself to not have them for a week has helped.

Lastly, this week I broke the habit of eating near daily protein bars to fill up. Sugar is the second ingredient! They are good for me to have around for days I have nothing to eat (I’m a social worker…a gluten intolerant vegetarian one..so sometimes I get trapped on the road unexpectedly with literally nothing to eat, and I can buy them at any drugstore!) but should not be a daily filler in my diet. I’ve been drinking more water, and haven’t needed it.

Besides these things, there really isn’t an off a lot of added sugar or other junk in my diet, I do usually throw some honey, maple syrup or peanut butter into a lot of my marinades and sauces…I probably won’t change that, although maybe I will try to use a little less? Since I am gluten intolerant and rarely buy processed gluten free foods except clean organic ones (like seeds of change rice packs), I’m good there.

Interestingly, even though it was not a huge change to my diet, I went below my calorie limit on MFP every day I did it, and was not overly hungry. Many days, I did not finish the bag of fruit and veggies I brought to work to munch on.

I’m hoping some of the changes that this five days has encouraged me to make will help me get those 15lbs or so back off and keep them off for good!

I’m am looking forward a glass of wine tomorrow night (which was not a change because I only have wine on weekends… and nobody can drag out if my cold dead hands!)