My mom started wearing a Fitbit a few months ago. “Probably something she bought on QVC,” I thought to myself (she loves ordering gifts from them). Since she ordered two, she offered one of them to me. I had no idea what a Fitbit was a the time, so I dismissed the offer by saying, “Mom, I appreciate the thought, but I will literally never wear that. And seriously, stop shopping on QVC.”
Fast-forward a few weeks, and I see people in my office rocking black bands around their wrists. I asked one of my colleagues what it was, and she told me it was her new Fitbit. Having completely forgotten about the conversation with my mom regarding her new wrist accessory, I asked what that was. She told me it was like a fancy pedometer that also tracks your sleep patterns. I thought, “hmm, that’s cool. I want to track my sleep patterns.”
I went online to do some research about this new Fitbit trend. Upon reading user reviews and all of its capabilities, I decided I wanted to try one out. I was speaking casually with my mom on the phone one day and told her that I was looking into getting a Fitbit. “Well, well, well,” she said, “noooowww you want a Fitbit. Well it just so happens that I still have that extra one. I’ll send it to you.” And that, my friends, is when my obsession began.
What happened next, I completely blame my mother for. This Fitbit created a monster – a competitive loser that spent hours walking around the streets of Manhattan just to watch the numbers on my step-count climb higher and higher.
If you’ve never used a Fitbit, let me take a step back and explain the competition element. Fitbit users are able to invite their Fitbit-wearing friends to join them on the platform. It’s like a mini social network for fitness. Once you have your friends added, you have three options: you can either cheer them on (a button rarely used between my circle), you can taunt them, or you can message them. If you couldn’t guess, the metaphorical print on the taunt button is wearing thin by now.
I knew my competition would be fierce. My colleagues that also wear a Fitbit include one runner (runner, as in… she frequently runs half marathons for fun), and one guy who purchased his own stand up desk for his space at work (everyone else? We sit). You get the idea. I had to step up my game.
I received one taunt from my marathon-running friend, and I lost my mind. She passed me by going for a run before work one morning. She hit my daily step goal of 10,000 steps all before 10 am. I began to twitch.
I walked to work that day (1.6 miles). I walked to a meeting downtown in the middle of a hot summer day, and yes I arrived sweaty – long hair, don’t care (2.1 miles). Since the meeting was casual, we walked around the neighborhood while chatting (approx. 1.0 miles)… I returned to the office, paced a lot, walked home from work, and saw that I was still behind the competition by just a few thousand steps. I groaned, argued with myself for a few minutes, told myself to just get out and go, and I then began to walk around the neighborhood until I had more steps than the competition. I’m no runner. I know this is an uphill battle, and unless I become one, this is not a sustainable plan. I walked around by myself from 9:30-10:30 PM for the sole purpose of winning (I’m not ashamed. I know I need a life).
I was receiving hate messages via text and Twitter from my competitor while I was pacing around the city. We had both accomplished nearly 10 miles by the end of the day, and we were exhausted. We called it quits and agreed that we’re too competitive. But I doubt that this realization will prevent this from happening again.
By midnight, I had walked 23,545 steps, 9.98 miles, and burned 2,803 calories. Since Fitbit gives badges for milestones, I thought of continuing my walk so that I could reach 25k steps, but I’ll save that for another day.
Health professionals say that you’re considered a person who leads a sedentary lifestyle if you don’t put in at least 10,000 steps per day. Living in Manhattan, one of the most walkable cities in the world, 10,000 steps per day should be a cakewalk (see what I did there?). But a study from the Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise publication found that the average American only walks 5,117 steps per day. That’s little over half of the recommended number of steps.
As someone who spends 8-9 hours per day sitting in front of a computer, hitting 10,000 steps can of course be challenging. Now that I’ve begun wearing this wristband, I’ve consciously increased my number of steps per day. I used to take the bus or Subway to and from work, but now I walk. I live 1.6 miles from my office – if it’s not raining or snowing, I’m walking. That’s approximately 3,000 steps each way, give or take a few. Just by walking to and from work, I’m getting in over half of my daily step goal.
When you begin to think about the choices we make on a daily basis when it comes to fitness/health, most of us make bad ones. We move far less than we realize. We’re not meant to sit behind a desk all day, rapidly moving only our fingers. We’re meant to use our bodies to their fullest potential – it’s really true: if you don’t use it, you lose it.
Even if you’re not a Fitbit wearer, I challenge you to walk more this week. I challenge you to consciously decide to take more steps throughout the day, and see how you feel afterwards.
How can you get more steps in?
- If your office has multiple floors, walk to another floor to use the bathroom
- Walk further to grab your lunch, instead of going to your normal go-to café across the street
- If your destination is less than a mile away and it’s safe to do so, walk there instead of driving
- Park your car further from the entrance of the grocery store, restaurant, etc
If you DO decide to go the Fitbit-wearing route, I will warn you of a few things:
- Competition will ensue between you and your friends (I don’t think anyone can help it)
- You’ll quickly learn to love the charts and analytics that it gives you about your habits and goals
- You’ll learn that you’re either getting more or less quality sleep than you would have originally thought
- You’ll question whether or not you can wear your Fitbit in the shower (you can).
Let me know if you have one or if you’re getting one!