A few weeks ago I bought myself a Fitbit tracker with some money I got for Christmas.
I wasn’t sure whether to take the plunge, but there’s a dedicated Fitbit cult in my Twitter feed who finally convinced me I needed to join them.
After much pondering and comparing the two models I was interested in, I ended up with the Fitbit Flex. It’s a tiny tracker that slips into a wristband. By some miracle of technology it can track your steps while it’s strapped to your wrist, rather than clipped onto your waistband like a standard pedometer, without confusing times where you use your arms (typing a lot) with actual physical activity.
What you do is set a goal for the number of steps you want to do each day and then during the day you can tap on it and the lights will flash to tell you which segment of your goal you’re at.
There are 5 lights, so if you’re in the first 20% of your goal one light will flash, second 20% two lights will flash and so on. If your goal is 10,000 steps, the first light will flash until you reach 2,000 steps, when the second light will come on. When you hit 4,000 steps the third light will flash.
Once you reach your daily goal it buzzes and vibrates to let you know, and all 5 lights stay solid. It’s quite cool, and it’s very satisfying to get that buzz.
You can set up a Fitbit account online and then sync the data from your tracker to the website, so you know exactly how many steps you’ve taken. If you had a newer phone than mine you could also sync the data that way.
You can also track things like weight, water and food and enter them manually on your phone or online.
The Flex also tracks your sleep patterns if you put it into sleep mode. What it really does is record when you’re lying still (which it considers to be asleep), when you’re tossing and turning (“restless”) and also when you’re awake – I’m not sure how it tells the difference between “restless” and “awake”. But still it’s a handy function to have to track your overall sleep patterns (and also find out there are times you get restless during the night that you aren’t aware of, or don’t remember).
It’s quite a neat little device and I’ve got quite attached to it.
When I started using it, I set a goal of 10,000 steps a day, which I was reaching on most days. Weekends were the toughest.
Once I signed up to the Walk In Her Shoes Challenge and committed to doing 20,000 steps a day for the week 17-24 March, I increased my daily goal to 15,000 in an effort to build up to this rather daunting task.
I thought the easiest way to increase my step count would be to get up a bit earlier each morning and go for a walk.
By Friday I’d done this on 1 out of 4 days.
Not a good start.
The weekend was easier because I didn’t have to get up as early, so I managed some quite long (for me) walks.
My daily step totals last week were:
- Tuesday: 18,777
- Wednesday: 16,136
- Thursday: 17,183
- Friday: 17,711
- Saturday: 20,953
- Sunday: 15,527
Here’s part of one of my walks.
I even managed to convince Juniordwarf to come with me one afternoon.
This week I wanted to find out how far 6 km was, because one of the things I’d read on CARE Australia’s website when I signed up for the challenge was that some women have to walk 6 km every day just to get water for their daily needs. They carry 15-20 litres each trip.
To track my actual distance and time I’ve been using the Runkeeper app on my phone, which I’ve found to be reasonably reliable most of the time – other than the day it had me walking out into the middle of the harbour in Hobart. Not sure where it got that idea.
On Saturday I didn’t quite reach 6 km, so I took a longer route yesterday morning and it took me 1 hour, 6 minutes to walk 6 km. It was about 8500 steps.
I thought about how I’d go carrying the equivalent of 15-20 litres of water on that walk and felt sure I’d have collapsed within the first kilometre.
To put that in perspective, that’s basically the weight of a bag you can check in as baggage on an aeroplane. It’s a bit less than Juniordwarf weighs, and I find it difficult to pick him up now. So to do the walk I did carrying that weight isn’t something I’m keen on doing any time soon. Or ever.
So. 15,000 steps per day has been challenging but doable. Only just on a couple of days, but I did it. Over the next week I have to increase this to 20,000 steps. Based on my current walks, that’s an extra 3.5 km or 40 minutes of walking.
This week I’ve increased my target to 17,500 steps per day. I think if I can actually drag myself out of bed at 5.30 I can do this, but it all hangs on me doing that.