For years now, I've worn a FitBit. I wore an old-school pedometer before that, thinking it was fun to track how many steps I took each day, long before the 10k steps-per-day health measure was issued and we were deemed 'sedentary' (i.e. - not invested in our own health) if we didn't make the 5k steps-per-day cut.
You can see where I'm going with this.
Each morning, as I try desperately to clip the plastic contraption to my wrist (can they not make it easier?), I wonder why I'm doing it at all. Before the 10k step declaration, it had been fun. With no measure of 'good' or 'bad,' it was simply a number that went up and down with little relative meaning. I knew that I needed to get moving throughout the day, but if on a Sunday, for example, I sat by the fire and read most of the day, I wasn't upset to see a number of, say, 3k steps. It was all relative.
I get a little anxious if I'm under 7k steps. I start doing things like walking furiously on the treadmill, while the family watches TV, so that I don't have to be deemed sedentary (i.e. - not invested in my health). I do mental math in my head all day: how many steps will I add if I park at the far end of the parking lot?
It might seem as if these internal thoughts are good...encouraging me to get moving rather than sit in my car, to park at the far-end of the parking lot rather than up close, next to the disabled parking spaces.
After three years of living like this, however, I can tell you that I'm exactly the same weight and in exactly the same relative health with this FitBit strapped to my wrist.
The only difference seems to be in my anxiety level, what with the constant checking of steps, hopping on the treadmill and wondering if I'm doomed to an old-age of disability and self-imposed health issues because I couldn't manage a certain recommendation (i.e. 10k steps).
Some people don't become obsessive.
My husband wore the FitBit for 6 months (before he developed a skin rash from it). He saw what he needed to see - that he'd get the 10k steps if he did PT in the morning. He walked about 3k steps if he didn't do PT.
He seemed totally unfazed by this information; that is, he didn't seem to take it personally. The number of steps he takes each day doesn't seem to define him or determine whether or not he's a healthy person, a fit person or a person devoted to his own well-being.
I become obsessive.
So, this month, I'm going to see what happens when I don't give a rip.
How many steps did I take yesterday?
I have no clue. None.
I've done this for 5 days now, and I have to say, it's a much lighter feeling. I know, generally, what it means to move well. I know what it means to eat well. I know what it means to sleep well.
The thing about tracking is that it's only useful to see patterns we can't normally see. Then, when the pattern has been established or the information collected, tracking is no longer useful - at least not in my experience. When I track my food, I never do it longer than a few weeks; otherwise, I begin eating not naturally and based on my own body's needs but reactively, based on a measurement prescribed by an online calculator or nutritionist I've never met.
In my experience, the best thing we can do to keep ourselves healthy is to be in tune with our bodies, spirits and minds. The irony of wearing the FitBit and having the big 10k step challenge is that I took roughly 13k steps per day before the suggestion of 10k steps; now, with my FitBit strapped daily to my wrist, I average 7k.
We'll see. Maybe I'll miss it. Maybe I'll have more anxiety if I can't measure it. I hope not. That would mean I've gone to Crazytown, population 1.
And anyway...now that the recommendation is up to 15k steps per day (this Time article explains it all), I feel like throwing my hands up, sans FitBit, and crying Uncle.
Does anyone else wear a fitness tracker?
Do you find it useful?
I hope everyone is having a bright week so far. As I drive my daughter to school each morning, I see it getting lighter and the sun getting brighter. Spring is right around the bend.