A friend of mine raved about her fitbit. And she is someone who rarely gushes so I was intrigued. I thought $100 for what essentially seemed like a pedometer was a little steep. But I went ahead and bought it and then started using it. Immediately, I began to learn surprising things about myself:
First , I don’t move very much. I considered myself pretty active but when at the end of the day the fitbit read 3000 (okay to be totally honest sometimes I didn’t break 2000) steps it was hard to hold on to that image.
Second, I eat a lot. I graze and generally try to stay with healthy snacks but those 50 and 100 calorie snacks really add up. A little here and there ends up equaling a hefty amount of calories at the end of the day.
Third, my metabolism is not the problem. I believed as I was aging and had gone through “the change” quite early that I had as I would happily tell others, “the metabolism of an old woman.” Turns out, I don’t. I just eat more than I move – see above.
Fourth, I was lying to myself. The numbers didn’t lie; but I had been less than honest with myself for some time. One pound is roughly 3600 calories. To make an unwanted one go away, I needed to burn that many excess calories. At 100-500 extra calories burned a day, I needed to expend both time and effort to achieve a 10-15 pound (taking in less 36,000-54,000 calories than I useed) weight loss goal. It wasn’t that “I just can’t lose those extra pounds.” I wasn’t willing to do what the math required.
Fifth, I really enjoy getting credit. When each step was counted, I found myself looking for opportunities, even small ridiculous ones like walking around the moving elevator – assuming no one else was in there – to get more steps. I felt like a success when I hit 10,000 steps in a day and would plan where I could get steps in as I looked at my daily schedule. Who knew that walking back and forth during a kid’s soccer game rather than sitting in a chair could net me 5,000 or more steps.
Sixth, I was wrong about little changes not being enough. I used to scoff at those suggestions to park your car far away from the store entrance. In my head, I would say “Really, how about 45 minutes on the elliptical if you want something to happen.” Except now, I no longer want to give up 45 minutes of a day to something that doesn’t give me joy, help someone else, or involve my family. And those little efforts do really add up as I found when I looked at my total at the end of the day and the results at the end of a few months.
Seventh, I do have 15-30 minutes most days I can devote to walking. It may not be all at once or the same time each day but it’s there if I look for it. It may be taking the stairs, walking to the bathroom down the hall, or getting my coffee from the Starbucks a few blocks away. Just that awareness made finding it easier for me.
Eighth, I can gain significant physical health benefits that I sorely need without making huge changes. I lost 17 pounds over the course of nine months, had more energy, and my blood pressure improved. Wow, why did I wait so long to start??
Ninth, I can realize real mental health benefits that I had not even considered by combining walking with other things like reflecting, time with my children, or walking with a friend. As I walked with my kids, by myself, with my dog, or with even a colleague instead of a coffee meeting, I found new ways to connect to those I care about, more time to wrestle with deeper questions (just being outside more lifted my spirits in ways I would not have imagined), and even came up with solutions to some thorny work challenges. Two of my favorite walking buddies -- my daughter and my pup -- are pictured
Tenth, I really enjoy sharing when I find something powerful -- it feels like a multiplier of the positive effect. I have told more people about fitbit than I can count. I am still so surprised that something so small and seemingly insignificant could have brought such profound changes and learning in my life. I feel like I was given a gift and it would be selfish of me not to give others the same. Give it a try, you might be surprised.