I walk 20K steps a day… and I’m getting rid of my Fitbit (Guest Post)

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Sam’s recent dilemma about whether or not to replace her Fitbit (and Tracy’s two cents about the whole issue of performance tracking devices) got me thinking about my own Fitbit. Like Sam’s, mine was falling apart, although the app was still syncing well with the device.

Here’s the thought process I’ve gone through.

I originally got a Fitbit a few months after finishing my chemotherapy for breast cancer. (Read all about my breast cancer observations, here.) I’d read an article about how a woman increased her steps to 20K a day, and after months of lying in bed feeling ill, it sounded appealing.

I liked some of the outcomes:

The author made a great case for how easy it was to add an extra 10K steps to your day without even trying. I liked that. Good outcomes, little effort.

Hmm, I thought. I’m going to walk 20K steps a day. And I need a Fitbit to tell me whether or not I’ve done that. So I bought one.

For the first few months, I only got about 6-8K steps per day. I couldn’t wear the Fitbit on the aikido mat, because a lot of our practice involves grabbing each other’s wrists. So I didn’t worry too much about my numbers. I figured I was probably getting close to 10K steps with the aikido, and didn’t change my behaviour at all – didn’t monitor my Fitbit numbers throughout the day, to walk more if my count was low.

I was Fitbit “friends” with my sister, and later my nephew and my niece. I noticed that I was not at all competitive. Just did not care that they were walking more steps than I. One weekend they challenged me to a weekend challenge, and my nephew won with an absurd (to me at that time) 42K steps (he was working as a cart clerk at a grocery store that weekend). I didn’t care that I lost the challenge.

My highest ever day (more than 30K steps) was the day I moved to my current home. I used professional movers, but helped them by moving all my boxes and bins (literally dozens upon dozens) from one of my bedrooms to my living room. Plus I unpacked or sorted a bunch of stuff when I arrived at my new home that same day.

I know how exhausted I was after walking 30K steps (and lifting dozens of boxes). I’m not inclined to ever try and repeat (or better) that record.

A few months later, I took a part-time seasonal retail job at a local bookstore. I was on my feet for most of my 4-hour shifts, and it was cool to see my daily step counts go up, although I still trailed behind my sister and niece. (My nephew had long since abandoned his Fitbit.) Didn’t bother me one bit to still be last. I kept wearing the device mostly out of habit, hoping that my number of steps would go up, but doing nothing to change my behaviour.

The thing is, I never modified my behaviour. At all. Never checked my Fitbit during the day, and walked more if the numbers were low. I walked 2 km every morning, but if I wasn’t at the bookstore, I was pretty sedentary. I was working on a couple of my websites at the time, and doing a lot of drawing. I was also taking a lot of naps.

When the bookstore job ended, I got another retail job, this time in a fabric store. For the past eight months I’ve worked three or four 8-hour shifts per week, and usually one additional shorter, 4-hour shift. I’m on my feet the entire time, not counting breaks.

My steps went through the roof. I regularly have 20K-step days, on the days I work. I shot to the top of my leaderboard, regularly clocking 110-120K steps per week. It was nice, but again, I didn’t do anything to modify my behaviour when I wasn’t at the store. If anything, my stratospheric weekly step totals gave me permission to be incredibly lazy on my days off.

And you know what? Walking 20K steps in a day isn’t the magic bullet to a more amazing life. I didn’t necessarily feel better than I had been feeling at 6K, or 10K.

So a couple of days ago I decided to take the Fitbit off for good. I’ve never liked the way it looked. I’m on my second band (which came with the original device) because the first fell apart a few weeks ago. I often forgot to check my daily totals, or even check if the battery on the device was low.

I’m still going to wear the Fitbit at night, because I really like the sleep monitor function, and I do want to improve my sleep. But that’s it.

Have you made a decision to wear – or stop wearing – a Fitbit?

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Michelle Lynne Goodfellow is a writer, artist, maker, and proud breast cancer survivor. She loves drawing adult coloring pages and sewing. You can see some of the things she makes on her Instagram feed. Michelle has also written about her breast cancer journey on her blog, Kitchen Sink Wisdom.

About Michelle Lynne Goodfellow

I'm a writer, artist and maker who creates adult coloring pages and pretty clothes.

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