Like most women, I need motivation when it comes to staying active. People tend to think that if you’re a mother, you’re chasing after children constantly. While this may be true in a house overrun with toddlers and preschoolers, it’s not true if your children are older than 5. It’s also not true if you’re biologically geared to sit on your ass and read, or watch a show, rather than workout. I had never considered myself athletic. I am perfectly content to read a book cover to cover, or be online 24/7, sipping coffee or tea and munching on crackers or cookies. It is simply difficult for me to get up off my derriere, let alone muster the willpower to go burn off calories in a structured manner with intent. I have also trained my children to fetch me things and to stay close by so there is no need for me to chase any of them.
My spouse and friends are much the same as I am. We have ourselves a very nice time being sedentary… thank you very much. The only accountability I have is that which I have placed upon myself, and let’s be honest here: I am the queen of excuses. Factoring in all the above, is it any wonder I have a hard time maintaining my weight, let alone losing any excess baggage? Hence, the need for motivation.
I am the largest woman where I work. I am the tallest, and the most thick. While I am no longer as pudgy as I used to be, I have some work to do on my figure. I know its supposed to be unhealthy to compare yourself to others, but where I work all the women are very fit and thin — except for me. I come in like the burly, corn-fed fertile mid-westerner of European descent that I am, and I feel as if I am a hippo among gazelles. Ergo, a factor in my motivation.
I am employed in a doctors office as an x-ray tech and a medical assistant. That’s a catch-all term for the fact I do nearly everything except actually treat patients. The emphasis and atmosphere in this particular clinic is one of wellness, nutrition, and general health. I want to embody this message and do my job well. I can do my job very well, but when I run into a patient at Wendy’s across the street during lunch, it’s only my guilt and shame of being caught that forces me to order a salad. I need accountability. I need motivation. I need reinforcement, encouragement, and validation. I need clearly defined goals, and I need reminders to reach these goals. Without these things I simply slip back into my lackadaisical ways.
When I saw my coworker wearing a band around her bony wrist, I inquired about it. She told me she had purchased a Fitbit. I’m not completely naive, and I had heard of this fad. She explained that it’s a glorified pedometer (step counter).
“You have to have 10,000 steps each day to stay healthy and not gain weight,” she chirped at me. “This keeps track of my steps throughout the day.”
You can buy a pedometer for $5 at Walmart, and I’ve never laid myself down to sleep at the end of the day wondering how many steps I had taken. I asked if it did anything else.
“Well, when you wear it at night it keeps track of your sleep so you can know how much sleep you’re getting.”
This part interested me. So, I found that Target had them on sale and picked one up. The Fitbit itself is a tiny computer hardly bigger than my fingertip, which gets wedged into a rubber wristband. I don’t normally wear anything around my wrists, so getting used to its presence was a minor adjustment. I downloaded the app onto my phone and my computer. I saw that it has opportunities to log my food and water intake, but I loathe documentation of this type, so I didn’t use this feature. I was satisfied that it would log my steps to let me know how active I was, and record the quality of my sleep.
In the first week I wore this Fitbit, I found that it did in fact motivate me to keep moving. I’d like to pause here for emphasis — that factor alone was surprising and impressive. I walked extra laps around the office and took longer routes throughout my day. At home I made a point to go up and down the stairs instead of asking the kids to fetch me something. I walked to get the mail. I wore it running. It was a point of accomplishment and pride when I was rewarded for attaining my goal for the day. Even the wrist band celebrated with me, vibrating and then illuminating all five of its lights to congratulate me.
I wasn’t always so smitten with the thing. One weekend I dug up my vegetable garden; a lot of lifting, moving of dirt and supplies. I tilled the garden by hand, not using a tiller, just a shovel and my own two hands — back breaking labor! Having completed the job, after wiping off the dirt and sweat, I checked Fitbit to see its documentation of my hard work. In the four hours that I had worked this garden, I had only taken 244 steps — a paltry sum. I was not impressed. I was sweating, sore, and dealing with erupted blisters on my palms. I had “wasted” four hours and accomplished nothing, according to Fitbit. This put me in a foul mood, lowered my expectations, and upon reading this unfair update I took off the band and placed it on its charger, debating whether or not I should use it at all.
As with most things that cause me disquiet, I posted about this injustice on Facebook. Someone then commented that if I wanted to track my activity levels more accurately, I would need the more expensive model Fitbits that can count heart rate. With a better understanding of how Fitbit calculated my activity level (basically just steps divided by time), I was more conscious concerning its usage, often directing or limiting my activities to what I knew the Fitbit would credit me for. Less lifting or core work; more running and walking.
As luck would have it, I ended up losing the Fitbit within only two months of having bought it. I was working a weekend job that was very physical, and consisted of my carrying and assembling photography equipment which rubbed against my arms, right where my Fitbit rested. In an effort to be cautious and prevent damage to the Fitbit, I attached it to my shoe laces. I didn’t want to miss out on getting credit for my steps! Suffice it to say, the Fitbit had become dislodged from the band at some point, and I was unable to locate it again, despite furious and frantic searching.
Since losing my Fitbit 6 weeks ago my activity level has decreased markedly, and my figure has responded. In the two months that I had the Fitbit I lost 8 lbs off my frame. I’ve gained back those 8 lbs in just a few weeks without my Fitbit. Its a credit to Fitbit that this small device has the ability to alter behavior so markedly.
It is now my goal to save up for the Fitbit Charge model which has the heart rate monitor as well as being a pedometer. I loved using the Fitbit. I loved the ease of its use, the implied accountability, the validation of my efforts, and the way Fitbit motivation keeps me active.
And when it comes to being active, I need all the motivation that I can get.
Jessica Fletcher is a guest writer for Mommy Perfect.
(This NOT a paid advertisement. I am not paid by Fitbit, or anybody else, to promote this product. I simply like it and think my readers will too. Disclaimer: this article may contain affiliate links.)