Monday, January 7, 2013

1-7-13 Fitbit and the Power of Awareness

For Christmas I asked for a Fitbit.

This is turning out to be one of the best things I could have in my attempt to make 2013 the year I finally get down to my goal weight.

I got well on the road between 2008 and 2009, and then, as usual, I stalled. I never got down to my goal weight, but I'd experienced enough of a change to feel good and thought, "I'll just maintain here for a while and then get back to the hard charging loss of those last 20 pounds." (I'd lost 75 overall.)

And then it crept back. 

By February 2011 I was in the throes of the cancer scare that led to surgery, and in March Bluebell Ice Cream came to Colorado. It was a lethal combination. The months after the surgery I was ordered to be a slug, and I got very comfortable on the couch after that. 

2012? Just gain, little by little. My resolution was to completely chuck the scales and workout and eat right and let it happen. Silly, silly girl. That only works if you actually work out and eat right. But I did NOT step on the scales.

So at the end of 2012 I decided I needed a better way to track what I was burning, what I was eating, and daily goals reached. 

And on January 2013, I stepped back on the scales to realize, to my shame, I had let more pounds creep on during the "scale-less year" than I could have imagined. 

Of my great 75 pound loss, I'd let 30 pounds come back between 2010 and 2012. 10 pounds a year.

Cue the Fitbit.

It's a tiny device that clips to your jeans pocket, shirt collar, or bra strap and works its magic, counting your steps, the flights of stairs, the distance traveled, and calories burned. It monitors your sleep cycles, too, tucked in a wrist band you wear to bed.

And after one week, I am a huge proponent of this little thing.

The device is wireless and communicates with your computer anytime you are nearby, so you get, in real time, an accurate accounting of how active you are, and how many calories you can consume. For example, if, by lunch, I haven't moved much, the calories it told me I could consume today have decreased. If I am more active, the calories bump up. 

I can tell it my goal weight and my end date (August) and it will track and tell me how much of a deficit I need to be running to reach it. And if I slow down? Those numbers will change. 

It's exactly the kind of awareness I need to keep me honest.

I log what I eat at my meals and let the Fitbit do the rest in terms of telling me how well I'm doing. Believe it or not, I've caught myself dividing up chores so I'll go up and down the stairs more often. There's just something about that feedback that is incredibly motivating to me. 

This afternoon, I panicked, because as I logged into the dahsboard I was met with the warning "Your fitbit battery is low."

I turned it on the day of Christmas and started wearing it, just to see how it worked and get used to it. I didn't start logging and working on the activity score until January 1. But it's run on its internal battery without charging for almost two weeks straight, 24/7. 

And I went to the box it came in, to pull out the little charging "dongle" (snicker -- love that term) it wasn't there.

I turned drawers inside out, moved furniture, retraced every step, with the realization that, I don't want to go without this for a single day. Happily, I did find it where it had fallen behind a piece of furniture and it is now happily recharging while I sing its praises and blog instead of letting it miss more of my steps ;)

Here's a quick snapshot of some of the cool features on the dashboard:

So you can look at this by day, week, month, and even year.

This is a snapshot of about 4:00 in the afternoon and I can guarantee you I am not going to hit 10K steps. I haven't yet, but it's there in front of me. This with the 34% goal of doing 5 miles a day has me seriously considering lacing on the running shoes and getting out in the cold to add to those. Soon.

Living in a multi-level house does have its advantages to the stair goal. I meet and exceed this every day. Go me.

It's the calories burned that are really interesting, because it's also tracking and adding in the base body calories I'd be burning when I'm not doing anything, so I have a real sense of where I'm at in relation to the calories I'm consuming.

Further down the page, you find an overview of your foods logged versus your activity. I'm doing well today, with only dinner ahead of me, more activity, and over 1000 calories left. 

Underneath that, you find the previous night's sleep record. No, I didn't actually go to sleep at 8:00 last night. But I started the timer, but it in my wristband, and read for a good while. Then I dozed off, woke up, etc. That thicker red activity at 1:30 in morning? That would be when I roused and realized my family left every blessed light on downstairs. ARG!! You can see where I forgot to turn off the sleep timer when I got up to workout at 5:00, before transferring it back into the clip I wear all day. 

This graph also shows me the data of when I've been most active and when I've been sitting at my computer working constantly without a break. 

Moving off of the main page dashboard, you can get into all of the bars listed above. Food is obviously the one I am using the most heavily at first, logging foods as I go. 

Then you can generate reports showing where your weaknesses are. Mine, obviously, is dairy. Man but I do love cheese. So I'm on the low side of Protein, low on the Carbs (never a big deal to me -- I'm not a big bread person), and way high on the fat. Sigh. One step at a time. I do love to see them add up!

So, I'm currently working on the T30D. This is my beginners version of P90X. It's the Tori 30 day Dogging instead of the Power 90 Day Xtreme thing I will eventually work up to.Since it's a workout for people who are already in shape, I am out of my depth to keep up with everything out of the gate.  I do the videos, but I'm so out of shape, I'm modifying a lot of it in order to be able to move tomorrow. After a month, I should be able to get to most of the reps/weights/pull-ups on the videos without dogging it. (Sorry, Tony, but yes, I am totally dogging it right now.) 

The battery charged up in an hour and I only missed three flights of stairs in the count. Woo-hoo!


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