Without my Fitbit® I wouldn’t even have a 3,000,000 step challenge. I got mine as a gift two Christmases ago when I was trying (again!) to get back to Weight Watchers. I thought it would help motivate me, but I had no idea how much this tiny technology would change my life.
I got very sick shortly after getting my Fitbit. I was in and out of the hospital twice and had major abdominal surgery. There were several weeks where walking 1,000 steps seemed an unreachable challenge. During my early convalescence I couldn’t wear the Fitbit because I couldn’t wear anything on my waist, but after a few days I was able to put it on. I remember my first goal was 250 steps. Each one was painful. But within a week I was able to walk over 1,000 steps and within a month I was up to 5,000 steps. And that was my first lesson learned:
I will survive this, and be stronger for it.
Over the past year and a half, I have used my Fitbit religiously. I wear it all the time. Normally it is hooked on my pant waistband or belt. When I wear dresses I attach it under the dress right on my underwear. I even wear it to bed, on the waistband of my pajamas. I don’t have one of the fancy, new Fitbit products that track sleep, but I like to know that if I get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, the Fitbit will record my 18 steps. You know- just in case!
And in reflection, I’ve gotten a lot more than a counting of steps from this little device. Here are some other lessons learned:
Every day is a new start
The Fitbit recounts to zero every day at midnight, regardless of what my day has been like. Whether I’ve had a good day or a bad one, whether I’ve walked 10 steps or 10,000, tomorrow is whole new day. This helps me put the past behind me. I look at every day as a clean slate. It is what I do today that matters. I can’t fix yesterday, I can’t go back and change my decisions or actions, but neither can I rest on my laurels. And I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. The only thing I can control is what I’m doing right now, today.
A step is a step
The Fitbit doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care if I run 2,000 steps in 11 minutes or walk them briskly in 15 minutes, or meander slowly for 30 minutes. It simply counts each step equally. Likewise, it doesn’t care if I sit on my butt all day and then run my steps in one long run, or if a stop and start a hundred times. Each step counts as one step. This helps me pace myself, both in fitness and in life. Being the fastest, the strongest, the smartest isn’t necessarily being the best. Endurance and perseverance are rewarded in the long-term. I try to remember that with my work and my personal life as well. The number one quality that “winners” all share is they don’t quite and they don’t give up.
Every step counts
In Weight Watchers they tell you that even little things make a big difference, like parking at the far end of the parking lot or walking up stairs rather than taking the elevator. Until I had my Fitbit, I didn’t really see how little things like that could make a difference. But now I do.
I always park at the farthest spot in the lot, just for those extra 40 or 50 steps. And I always choose the stairs over the elevator when I have a choice. When going around town, I frequently think “Should I walk or drive?” If I won’t be carrying anything heavy, I usually choose walking.
I also walk now in times and places where I used to sit: While waiting for a train or planes, for example. I walk up and down the train platform and I’ve literally done miles in airports waiting for planes. Or on my lunch break. I used to sit and check Facebook, but now I’m more likely to walk around the block, or (as I did last week) around the aisles of the auditorium. I’m surprised at how many times and places I’ve found to add a few extra steps to my day.
Everyone needs friends
I was the first of my friends and family to get a Fitbit, but it wasn’t long before my circle of Fitbit friends grew. First my mom got one. Then she got one for my daughter. I got one as a gift for my friend, who convinced her daughter to get one. Little by little my circle of friends grew. We “cheer” each other on and send supportive messages. Sometimes seeing how many steps my friends are doing gives me just a little encouragement to go another half mile.
A talisman has the power you give it
I may be obsessive, but I touch my Fitbit about a 100 times a day. Maybe more. I’ve probably touched it 5 times during the writing of this article. When I first started wearing it, I would touch it from time to time to make sure it was still there and hadn’t fallen off somehow. Over time I started just touching it just to make sure I had remembered to wear it, or to remind myself to exercise. Soon, though, I found it had become a reassuring habit. Touching my Fitbit reminds me of my journey, of my commitment to myself. Touching it reminds me that I am in control and helps me feel empowered. Over time it has become more than a tool for fitness, but the touchstone of that part of my life.