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!

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