Barbara: The FitBit Challenge

Sorry for my long absence, friends. First there was a trip to England, then Toni and I were locked out of the site, and then I had a retreat at Lake Tahoe with a bunch of long-time writer friends.

I’d like to introduce you to my new pal:


This is a FitBit Zip, an excellent pedometer that clips to my bra and tracks my steps. It is the symbol of my new mantra of simplifying to make my life feel less stressful. Like most of us here, I want to do ALL THE THINGS–walk and workout and dance and swim and garden and keep the house super clean and write 50,ooo words a month and stay in touch with all my friends and hang out with my sisters and mom and beloved and blog tons and—

No one can do all that. While we were in England, I did nothing. We walked every day and looked at gardens sometimes. I read seven (big!) books in ten days. I slept nine or ten hours a night. You know, rest.

Which gave my exhausted inner self a chance to check out and sleep and then come back to me and say: really, you want to stay healthy, something has to go. A lot of things have to go. Get your priorities together and focus.

So that’s what I’ve been doing. What I want to focus on is writing. I’m in a very productive period, loving the work I’m doing on many fronts, and filled with an excitement I haven’t had in quite a long time. (Look for an announcement from me about a new name and new direction in the coming weeks. Not giving up the work I’m doing now, just adding to it. See the issue?) To support that, what can I do in the rest of my life?

I’m overcommitted in terms of blogging, but some of that is being resolved by matters beyond me. This one, every other week on stuff I really believe in and think about a lot, and Writer Unboxed, a community of writers I adore, bring me more than I give out, so I’ll keep them. I’m spending too much time worrying about how often I’m getting to the gym and feeling exhausted by the workouts sometimes, so I’ve cut way way back on that, too. Monday afternoons, I work out with my trainer, because I won’t do strength training on my own. I’ll go to Zumba when I feel like it.

The rest of the day, all the days of the week, I will walk. I love walking. It makes me feel good. I can walk for many miles right out my front door, and it doesn’t make me feel exhausted, only refreshed. I know I need to walk more than the couple of miles I do first thing in the morning with my dog, which is why I bought the pedometer. It allows me to see, at a glance, how much I’ve moved or not moved in a day. If I run errands, I can easily hit 14,000 steps in a day. If I sit at the computer and don’t take a walk, I am lucky to break 2500, even in a house with stairs I have to climb and descend to do anything.

The FitBit connects to an app on my phone, and I just realized that it also connects to My Net Diary. It also allows me to connect to others. (Waving at you, You Know Who You Are). It keeps me honest, and it spurs me on. If I know others can see how many steps I’m getting in, I’m a lot more likely to get out and take that last 15 minute spin around the block (1000 steps, more or less).

My goal is 10,ooo steps a day. I’ve learned I can pretty reliably get to 8-9000. It takes some effort to get the next 1000, and some days I do it. Some days I don’t. But I keep trying.

I would very much like to invite you to join me and buy a FitBit of your own. If you’d rather not spend $60 (or more) on a little piece of equipment, then buy a cheap pedometer and join in anyway. If you like, when you get it, you can friend me and we can get more active together. What do you say? Who’s in?

Do you use a pedometer already? Tell us about your goals and experiences.

47 thoughts on “Barbara: The FitBit Challenge

  1. Welcome back!

    Walking more isn’t really an option for me, but I think it’s time to commit to learning (and practicing) Tai Chi, and this was a good reminder to do it. Fifteen minutes a day. Starting on Monday (because this week is already booked to the gills, and I’ll have put the garden to bed for the winter by then.)

  2. My life is too chaotic to even think about committing to this right now, but that will hopefully change in the next two months. Do you walk when the weather gets really bad, or get the steps in some other way? I did finally join the rec center, so the goal is to schedule regular visits for the bike and treadmill as soon as possible.

    Adding another name? Looking forward to the details on that. Though I’m not sure how you keep so many identities straight. Then again, might be fun to reinvent yourself any time you want.

  3. Carol says:

    I bought one in June. It is a great device, a real eye opener on how active I am or…not. My day job means I sit, a lot. Writing = more sitting. Living in a two story house means at least 10 sets of stairs.

    The one thing I don’t like about the fitbit is; it does not track bike rides.

    I’m really trying to get the 30 active minutes a day. Tough some days. If I forget to put it on first thing or after a shower, I get a little ticked over the missing steps or stairs. Perhaps a little OCD?

  4. MJ says:

    I’ve long loved my low-tech Omron pedometer and am a dedicated walker. When the weather’s awful, or for variety, I dance or climb our stairs.

    But when I lost my original Omron in an airport, I realized the step-counting had become a low-level source of stress. You have to walk at least 10 steps in a row for them to show up in the count, so I was doing weird little extra turns around the kitchen, etc.

    Now I wear the pedometer only when I exercise, to check my pace and distance. It’s still a good motivator, but it’s not another cause for fretting.

  5. I have loved my FitBit for a couple of years now. Sadly, the most recent one I bought (after the first one died) is lost somewhere in our house. Possibly in a dog. So I’m about to pick up one of the new bracelet-type FitBits, as nothing can come unclipped that way. Let’s hope!

  6. Hmm. The FitBit appeals to my love of gadgets. However, there is the whole unemployed thing. I have a pedometer, which not only needs a new battery but I’m not sure if it’s among the things I brought to the house (rather than putting in storage). So if I find the pedometer, I will totally join in. Otherwise, I will at least let y’all know when I’ve walked. Which I need to do. And as I am not a member of a gym, I need to buy rain pants and waterproof shoes for walking so I can walk in the local weather.

  7. I’ve been meaning to dig out my pedometer and use it to try and encourage myself to move more. I’ve finally gotten back to doing my Tai Chi 4-5 days a week, but other than that and house cleaning, it is mostly sitting on my butt. Not good.

  8. Debby says:

    A friend demonstrated her FitBit for me this spring while I was visiting her in Tennessee. Because I’m me, and addicted to All Things New And Shiny, I was determined to get one as soon as I got home. But by then I had come to my senses, and the realization that I don’t walk for exercise. I use an exercise bike and workout on a Bowflex. I do a little yoga – when I feel like it.

    I did actually join Weight Watchers again this week. I find that I do much better with both diet and exercise if I’m accountable to someone (anyone!). Since I’m approaching 60 (in March), am overweight and putting a lot of strain on the new knee that I got a little over a year ago, I have to do something!!

    But I still think the FitBit is really cool! 🙂

  9. Jessie says:

    I am not a gadget person. The few times I have had pedometers, my use was patchy. And I have discovered that if I exercise a lot, I then sit around for literally hours playing Solitaire and doing Duolingo exercises. I have decided my life can either be about walking or I walk in moderation and do other things too (like working on the house, sanding, painting, gardening, building terraces, cooking.) Also I live in a 3 story house with the bedrooms on the top floor and my studio, laundry and access to the yard on the ground floor so this is not too sedentary of house to live in. So instead of walking 2 miles 5 days a week, which was pretty much all I was doing. I now walk 2.5 miles 3 or 4 days a week and use the other days for other things. Once my life is a little more focused, i. e., I have finished refinishing the upstairs windows with their 12 divided lights, I may up it to 3 miles. But then again I might not.

  10. Jessie says:

    Make that 12 divided lights per window. Why, oh why did I only put one coat of paint on the stupid things when I first did them 15 years ago? I meant to come back and finish the job but I never did and now I am paying for it. With the flaky paint and mildew, I have to redo every one. And let me tell you, this time I don’t stop until they are completely done. Oh good. I did the same thing on the downstairs windows. it will give me something to for the next year because it is such a joy to do.

  11. Kelly S says:

    I also get frustrated when I forget to put it on. You can add walking as an activity on the Fitbit site if you want to estimate it. It helps me feel better as then I get some credit.

  12. Kelly S says:

    I have a Fitbit one. I asked and received it for Christmas. Within 4 weeks it fell off without me noticing. Luckily, it was at church and was turned in and I got it back. It then came off again about 4 weeks later and was never seen again. A few months ago a friend got one and connected with me on the Fitbit site. This motivated me to replace my Fitbit with one from eBay. Only $60 instead of $100. I’ve had it come off a 3rd time without me knowing it when I chased one of my cats thru the treeline. Because my phone is an older model, I couldn’t use it to try syncing. Instead I carried out the laptop. I was able to sync in my backyard. Fitbit says it will sync within 15 feet which is true but it can also be further away. My husband found it about 30 feet from where it synced clinging to a tree branch.

    All that to say, tether your Fitbit.

    I’ll add that I wanted it originally to track my sleep. I knew the cats woke me up often but I wanted to see how bad it was. Well, this has become a catch 22 for me. It tracks arm movement to know if your awake. If I lie still trying to get to sleep, I will claim I’m asleep before I really am, so I move my arm, which keeps me awake. Yes, I do have OCD tendencies, why do you ask?

    Besides all that, I love the gadget & the data. Floors are rarely a problem to meet that goal. Steps taken average around 7,000 with good days over 10k and more commonly days around 4k or less.

    Regardless, I’m in.

  13. H says:

    My hubby bought the FitBit wristband thing a month or so ago. He LOVES it. He said it’s like playing a video game, and he’s friends with a couple of college buddies which helps spur him on (if Craig is logging 15K steps, he tries to beat him). I’ve been thinking about getting one of the more basic models. I use the Lose It! app and web site for food/exercise diary, and the FitBit will sync with that, so it would be easy to hook up. Hmm…

  14. toni says:

    Oh, I didn’t realize you could add walking. That’s good to know.

    I have a Fitbit and I constantly forget to use it. When I did use it, I did much much better and started losing the weight. Then I went out of town, left it at home, and got out of the habit.

    I’m going to try to get back up to 10K a day.

  15. Micki says:

    My phone came with a pedometer, and I loved it. I would do those extra weird turns around the kitchen or whatever, building up my steps — because movement is movement.

    But about a month ago, it went wonky. I can log 20,000 steps suddenly in 20 minutes, or go a whole day without any steps. It forgets to reset at midnight. All sorts of weird stuff. Very frustrating, so I don’t bother looking at it anymore.

    I don’t really want anymore gadgets, and I’m afraid if I download a different pedometer app, it’ll have the same problems if the problem is with the phone.

    I have an android phone, BTW, so if anyone knows of an excellent free pedometer app, let me know and I’ll test out the “it’s the phone” theory.

    The one I have now is the Kyocera app, I think. It also logs the time I spend in cars, and if I’m pushing a shopping cart, it logs my walking as bicycling, strangely enough.

  16. Redwood Kim says:

    Man, Barbara, this is a little spooky. I swear that Go Kaleo post has changed my life, and I’ve been going back and forth for the last few weeks on getting a FItBit. After reading the comments, I’m in. I’m going to get the wristband.

  17. Rose says:

    I love my fitbit. But then I’m a gadget person – if there’s a new fitness venture that requires an upfront expenditure, I’m in.

    I have been good about inputting my food and water in the 6 weeks I’ve had it, which I’ve never done with any of the online food diaries or with a paper journal. Most days I eat far more than I should anyway, and more often that not I don’t meet my step goal, but it has made me more mindful.

    What I love most about it is the sleep tracker. I hear more and more about how not getting enough sleep will derail every other effort at getting healthy, and I’m noticing the correlation. There are days I would have thought I slept okay the night before – I was in bed for 7 or 8 hours, and don’t remember waking up – but I check fitbit and it tells me I was restless all night and got no more than 4 hours of sleep, so no wonder I feel like crap. And those restless nights often correlate to overeating the evening before.

  18. “You all have a good time,” she waves from the corner where she’s sitting eating a donut.

    Kidding, at least about the donut part. Sitting is me. Although I have started back on my exercise bike. It doesn’t appear to increase my pain any. No pedometer gadgets for me, but I ride along watching TV and that’s better than nothing.

  19. Yay, Toni!

    I didn’t know you could add walking as an activity, either, but then I do it on NetDiary, so it all works out.

    Not sure how many calories are burned in a chasing granddaughter all over the universe afternoon, but I think it must be a lot.

  20. That was really smart, to take the laptop out to track it down! Mine came with a little silicone sleeve that clips to clothing pretty strongly.

    I have to look up my linking address to follow everybody. I think it’s barbara.samuel @

  21. That’s part of the game for me. One of my friends is on there and consistently logs a lot more steps per day than I do. It’s not that I want to beat her total, but it spurs me to keep up and walk a little more.

  22. Carol says:

    Oh, that is good to track it with the computer. I must remember that. I put the fitbit on the center part of my bra, (doesn’t make a lump) as I lost it a couple of times on the waist band.

    Thanks for the adding steps too. I like that.

  23. Jenny says:

    Update: My Fitbit arrived from Amazon today, less than twenty-four hours after I’d ordered. If you get the blue one, it’s $54.

    Now, of course, I have to figure out how to use it, but still, that was fast.

  24. Kelly S says:

    The Fitbit one also has a silicone clip. It’s strong but when clipped at the waist it can be slowly pushed off. The tree apparently snagged it off the waist band.

    So, yes, on the bra might be best. The second time I lost it I had misplaced the holder so I had tucked the Fitbit in my bra. Sometime during the day it slipped out. Never felt it go. I think perhaps a squirrel ended up with it.

  25. Kelly S says:

    It costs an annual fee for Fitbit and lose it to sync. I think it is about $30 a year. I also use lose it but am too cheap to sync the two.

  26. Carol says:

    Just ordered my (blue – thanks, Jenny!) Fitbit Zip from Amazon. I’m in. Need to increase my walking in anticipation of the Camino next May.

  27. Jenny says:

    So today I clipped my Fitbit on my bra and took Milton for a walk which I would not have done had there not been a Fitbit on my bra. Milton was thrilled, I was tired, and we only did 2200 steps. Well, I did 2200 steps, God knows what Milton did. Then some yardwork and a run into town to shop for paper goods at one store and then back home. 4166 which is actually more than I would have thought. So basically, the Fitbit, by making me aware of how many steps I’m taking is actually making me to do thing to take more steps which means it’s working. I don’t see me ever getting to 10,000 unless there’s a way to walk while you type, but I’m learning a lot about how much I move. And Milton is THRILLED.

  28. I’m hoping to get a foster puppy in November(I’ll be raising hiom for 4PAWS, which trains assist dogs) and have planned to walk a lot more, since he’ll need his exercise–and that’ll good for me, since I am the queen of couch-potato excuses to self. So I’ve put this on my Amazon wish list for when the time comes, as I’ll be able to SEE I’m getting more exercise.

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