I was given a Fitbit Charge for Christmas. I expected it to be a useful tool in my quest to manage my weight. What I didn’t expect was the way it would change my behaviors.
Fitbit told me I had a goal of 10,000 steps a day. I previously had a pedometer years ago and counted steps, but I found that it was easier to log my exercise and count calories. I lost almost 70 pounds by carefully counting calories from food and exercise. At the time, I was highly motivated by The Hacker’s Diet, which I still highly recommend. Stepping didn’t do much for my motivation, so when the pedometer broke, I didn’t replace it.
I soon realized the Fitbit was more than a pedometer. It was watching me and encouraging me. I got an email of encouragement when I my first 5,000 steps. I saw I was getting credit for taking stairs. I was also getting extra calories in my calorie counting app, My Fitness Buddy. I got a badge!
The big surprise came late in the first day. The Fitbit on my wrist vibrated several times and started flashing. I had reached 10,000 steps for the day and Fitbit was having a nice fit of congratulation! I was surprised how motivating that little buzz on my wrist felt. I know people respond to feedback — that’s one reason Facebook notifications and gathering Likes are so addictive — but the buzz has become very personally motivating to me.
I anticipate the buzz. I wait for the buzz. I check for my steps and think, what can I do to add a few more so I can get to 10,000 and make Fitbit buzz and flash? The thought of not making 10,000 steps and missing the buzz fills me with disappointment.
This has changed several of my behaviors. At work when I need to talk to someone, I walk down the hall rather than pick up the phone. I plan for small motion breaks between meeting. I walk up the stairs to the restroom on the next floor. I jog in place for a few hundred steps when I am on phone calls. I walk in a circle when my food is in the microwave, just to pick up a few more steps. One morning, I got up extra early before an early meeting so I didn’t miss my workout steps.
The charts and stats really help me to see progress and consistency. The geeky side of me loves to see charts.
Last year I shifted jobs from home to back to the office. I gained a 15 pounds and I’m realizing in part because I became more sedentary in the main office than I was in my office at home. At home, water (and food) are downstairs, so I would do the stairs 20 times a day. Sometimes I would walk about while on the phone because there was more space. There would sometimes be people at the door (more stairs.) In contrast, at the main office, I would sit and grab food out of my lunch box and sit some more.
Fitbit’s motivation has given me back the many small motions lost by going back to the main office. It has also motivated me to find more ways to add a few steps.
One week of Fitbit, and I am down 8 pounds. Some of that is water, but Fitbit calculates an 800 – 1000 calorie deficit each day, thus some of that is real pounds.
I am motivated to keep this up and see how far and how long Fitbit can keep me motivated. I’ll check back in four weeks and see how it’s going.