Let's talk about the Fitbit


Shoes here, because I know you want to know;-)

I've been wearing a  Fitbit Flex wristband for a little over two weeks now. Since I've posted pictures from various walks on Instagram & Facebook and posted my stats on Twitter, I'm sensing some interest in activity trackers out there in the cyberworld.

First, please let me admit that my Fitbit purchase was entirely impulsive. I went to Colorado to visit Sally Clarkson. My roommate there was Chrystal Evans Hurst. I love her. I really, really do. She was genuine and kind and took the time to make me feel very welcome even though I knew no one else personally and they all knew each other. We had some long talks and I do cherish the memory of them. But one morning early, I was awakened by a buzzing. I couldn't hear it, really. It was more like feeling it. I'd had a restless night, coughing and tossing and turning, so it didn't take much to wake me. I stayed very still and dropped back off to sleep. When I finally awakened (probably not too much later), I remembered how much I wanted to get out of bed before the day's activities began and sit on Sally's porch and just pray and journal. I rolled over, resolute in my decision to get up and I saw that Chrystal was gone. I will admit that my first thought was, "Darn, she's got the prime spot on porch."

I took my wheezing, sneezing self up to the back deck and got comfortable. It was a glorious morning. So, of course, I had to Instagram the moment.


When I posted to Instagram, I saw that Chrystal was no where near the front porch. Instead, she had posted a gorgeous picture of the trail before her. Chrystal wasn't sitting at all; she was off on a Colorado road getting some serious steps in. When she returned, I cheered her morning ambition and asked about her Fitbit. She has a Fitbit One, which attaches to clothing and has the benefit of having a digital readout of steps right on the device. It tracks steps and sleep. It also has a silent alarm which will buzz you (and your roommate) awake. For a few weeks, Chrystal wore several different activity trackers. In my I'm-too-sick-to-really-ask-questions-but-I'm-taking-notes mode, I noted that here was someone who'd checked them all out and she decided on a Fitbit. Later in the trip, Kat Lee was talking about her Fitbit Flex. I watched her whip out her phone and cheer or lightheartedly chide half a dozen people in their efforts to get fit. All I could think of was my child who is obsessed with numbers and a little too comfy on the couch.

I returned home and ordered a Fitbit Flex using Amazon credit. It arrived just before we walked out the door for dance recital rehearsals. I set it up with my computer and the phone app and strapped it on. Away we went. Nearly 6,000 steps that first day.

My goals are the default goals: 10,000 steps, 5 miles, and 30 minutes of sustained activity. Remember, I was still sick. For the next week, I met the step goals every day but one. Some days, all I did was walk and go to bed for the rest of the day. It was sort of stupid, but I wanted to form a habit and I didn't want to wait. I also learned that the number-obsessed child might have inherited that particular quirk. I am in no way recommending my obsessive compulsive induction phase. I'm just being honest.

Betty asked on Facebook whether the Fitbit Flex has made me more intentional towards activity. I can answer that with a wholehearted yes!. After years of being pregnant or nursing, particularly the last two high risk/very low activity pregnancies, I'd developed the habit of asking someone else to "run and get." 

"My shoes are up in my closet. Will someone run and get them for me?"

"Stephen, run up and get the laundry basket and bring it down here so I can start another load? And then will you please carry this one up?"

"I'll finish loading these groceries into the car. Will you run the cart back to the store?"

When the Fitbit Flex is strapped to my wrist, I become conscious of all those little times as opportunities to seize a couple hundred more steps. And those steps add up. 

Instead of standing at the sink while spending two minutes brushing my teeth, I walk circles around my bathroom. Up to 200 steps.

I park as far from the store as possible without being ridiculous. (My young companions do not appreciate this new habit because I seem to go into the store on a sweltering afternoon and exit during a torrential downpour).


I'm quick to volunteer to be the one to go back into the restaurant to fetch the forks when we are eating outside. Only about 100 steps, but every little bit helps.

I walk to the grocery store. And then I walk home. 2,000 steps there and 2,000 steps back.

It's halftime. Let's talk a walk around the track surrounding the soccer field, girls. 700 steps (including the diversion to the Porta-Potty).

I can easily persuade the girls to take a quick walk around the library pond after the Farmers' Market. 2,000 steps.


I also know that it's 2,000 steps to the dance studio and 2,000 steps to Starbucks. I made a deal with myself never to get Starbucks unless I've walked to the store. Also, from my house, you can get a lot of different places in 2,000 steps.

Someone needs to retrieve Michael from the airport around 7:00 in the morning, just hang out in the cell phone waiting area until an international flight arrives and he clears customs? I will! But I'll park at the airport Marriott and acquaint myself with the fitness trail behind it. 8,500 steps later, I'm five minutes away when he clears customs and heads for the arrivals door.


I quickly learned that even though I was being more intentional about the incidental opportunities to walk, I was going to need to make a  commitment to a long period of sustained movement every day if this was going to yield true improvements in fitness. So, I reinstituted the Morning Walk. I loaded my iPhone with podcasts from Chrystal and from Kat--they got me into this, they might as well go along for the ride--and I walked. And walked. And walked and walked. About an hour every morning--about 8,000 steps, more or less. If you get 8,000 steps before 7:00 AM and you are intentional about finding incidental opportunities to walk. I promise you will meet that 10,000 steps goal. Really, all you need is about 6,000 steps and then just regular momlife. Those morning walks have been glorious--cool, quiet, and really very beautiful, just walking within 4 miles of my house. I vary the path daily and try to keep myself from ever becoming bored. (My husband and children are all still asleep when I walk.)


Sometimes, I have to go out again at the end of the day and add to the step total in order to meet my mileage goal.Once around the block? One thousand steps. Ten minutes of Just Dance with my little girls? 888 steps. It hasn't taken long to develop a fat mental file of how many steps it took to get where I wanted my number to be. And one night, before going to bed, I noticed I was a tenth of a mile from hitting my five mile goal. My husband jokingly asked if I was going to walk around the bedroom just so I could see the number change. I giggled at the absurdity. Then, I asked if he needed anything from downstairs, told him I was going to get water, and did a few laps around the dark middle floor of my suburban colonial.  

My friend Nicole has a Jawbone Up. That means we can't officially share our steps via the Fitbit app, but we can screenshot results and support and encourage one another. Very early on, we learned that she would walk further and I'd have more steps. I'm barely 5'2". She's 5'8"-- different strides, for sure. Lately, I've tended to have more steps than Kat or Chrystal, which is hilarious considering I'm listening to their motivational podcasts and that's fueling me to go further. [Maybe I need to record a podcast for them;-)?] I've moving been very, very slowly though. I've yet to have a day when I haven't been wheeezing. This virus is excruciatingly slow to leave. It may have something to do with the fact that--even though I knew I was sick--  I flew to the Rocky Mountains, slept very little for three nights, came home, pushed hard through dance recital week, and then persisted in walking every day, to the tune of more than 60 miles in the first two weeks.

I tracked my sleep the first two nights, but after that, I stopped wearing it to bed. I just don't really  need that information and I think a little break from the electronics is probably a good thing. While Chrystal's silent alarm woke me that first night, the two times I wore my silent alarm, I slept right through it. I will admit that I'm not someone who has ever carried her phone on her person, so having this thing strapped to my wrist all the time does sort of  give me the eebie-jeebies. Except it's just so cool...

So what has all this meant in pounds and ounces. Ounces!? Glad you asked. I've been logging over 80 ounces of water almost every day. Fitbit Flex helps me track that.

Oh, you meant the scale. 

I haven't lost an ounce. Honestly, as of this morning, I've gained two pounds. I eat ridicuolously clean and very little. This body weight statistic is baffling and annoying beyond belief. So, yes, I will have my thyroid checked again. I will also put the scale away for the next month. Here's the thing about the Fitbit Flex: I'm in control of those numbers. I can make them go up. I can reach my goals every single day. Whatever it is about my metabolism or my body type (or my luck?), I've always had very little control over my weight. I can't effect the same changes in those numbers. I've lost weight almost as inexplicably as I have gained weight on occasion. It's just a very capricious thing, that scale. But it has the power to discourage. It's actually so powerful it can ruin an entire day before I am even dressed in the morning. So, the scale going to be hidden away for the rest of July. 

Instead, I'm making and keeping friends with this fun device that actually reflects how hard I'm trying.

I've committed to 150 miles in July. I've committed to 80 ounces of water a day. I'm reminding myself that what I'm really trying to do here is to strengthen my heart and lungs (and I probably need to go faster to do that but there's time to work up to that).  I'm holding myself accountable and I've asked my friends to help me.

But wait, there's more! My kids like this bracelet. A lot. Welllll, most of them do. They like to go with me, to find out how many steps it takes to get places. They like to see the smiley guys when I reach my goals. It doesn't seem to know how to accurately count steps if I'm pushing a stroller (or a grocery cart?). I try to let the Fitbit hand swing free. It also doesn't record "steps" while biking. I have had some limited success in both situations with strapping the wristband onto my shoelaces.


 Katie begged for a Fitbit Flex of her own. I conceded because it's good to have something to share with her and she's a happy companion on my jouney. I also got one for the child who loves the couch. He's not allowed to sit down until he has gotten 6,000 steps for the day. He's been encouraged to work towards his own unique fitness goals. There's a one more Fitbit sitting in a box on the dresser in my bedroom. It has my husband's name on it. We'll see where it goes...