SUCCUMBING TO THE FITNESS TRACKER CRAZE

Have you thought about whether a fitness tracker would work for you? - I was surprised by mine

FADS AND CRAZES

I have a real thing about not getting sucked into the latest fad or phase or craze that is currently swirling around the world. I've resisted so many one-minute-wonders because I hate throwing money away on something that isn't going to last more than 5 minutes.

I've resisted "cold shoulder" tops, mixing patterns in my outfits, fidget spinners, kale smoothies, keto diets, thermomixes, quinoa (I still can't even pronounce it!), and numerous other fads I've seen people get immersed in. Up until now that has also included the ubiquitous fitness tracker that you wear on your wrist.

WHAT CHANGED MY MIND?

Ultimately I blame Elena Peters' post on how she manages to do 10,000 steps a day at home. I thought to myself that I'm in a similar position to Elena - sitting a lot - and I knew that I definitely wasn't doing the magic 10,000 steps a day. I presumed I was close to the right number but not quite making it. The question in the back of my mind was "then why is my weight still creeping up?"

It's hard to know how much walking you do and how many steps you take when you have nothing to measure it with. I have been doing a morning walk for the last few years - every morning I walk around our neighbourhood for 20-30 minutes (depending on how many people stop me for a chat!) but was that enough?

MONEY, MONEY, MONEY

I am reknown for being a cheapskate - it's one of my superpowers! I hate spending money on things that might be one hit wonders. A lot of the Fitbits are $100 - $200 and that's a lot to spend on something that I might only use until the novelty factor wears off. 

Elena's post alerted me to the fact that you can get a cheap fitness tracker on Ebay and when I researched and found one for under $20 I figured it might be worth trying it out and seeing if it motivated me.

A little progress each day adds up to big results

WHAT I FOUND

My primary reason for wanting to buy the tracker was for the feature where it buzzes you after you've been sitting for too long. I set mine for 45 minutes and if it buzzes me then I make myself go and do 150 steps on our elliptical machine - and if I delay I do an extra 50! I call it my punishment for being too sedentary! This happens several times a day and it makes me very aware of how much sitting I do - so many of my favourite pastimes seem to involve sitting on my butt! (And the darn thing has buzzed me twice while writing this post!) I've actually started talking to it - "Yes, Yes, I know, I'm getting there!" and other less complimentary words at times.

The step counter and sleep monitor features were a secondary interest - my sleep is pretty reasonable so it's just nice to have that confirmed. BUT my steps were WAY less than I thought they'd be. I've now taken to walking around the neighbourhood morning and evening - so double the distance and I STILL only manage to reach 9,000 steps most days. I was shocked at how far below the optimal 10,000 I had been doing previously.

WHAT'S NEXT?

Because it has turned out to be so useful, I bit the bullet and bought a better quality Fitbit Alta as I thought it would be more accurate than my cheaper version - (they turned out to be not that different, so I probably could have stuck with my cheaper version). I really want to keep working on moving more and seeing if it helps keep me on track for 2018. I figure if I get close to 10,000 steps each day by walking outdoors or on our elliptical machine, and I watch what I eat, then I should be on the way to losing those few pesky kilos that have snuck on over the last few years - stay tuned!

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

Are you beating the Midlife Midline Creep or are you slowly getting wider? Are you reaching the magical 10,000 steps each day and eating healthy most of the time? Do you have any tips to add to mine?


Disclosure: I have received no payment or inducement for this post and my views and thoughts are my own.

Have you thought about whether a fitness tracker would work for you? I was surprised by mine

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49 comments

  1. Good for you for succumbing to a "lifestyle," not a fad. And you discovered you weren't getting in as much exercise as you thought. I have the Fitbit One which pairs with my Weight Watchers app. Mine is warn with a clip on my pants or bra, but I bought a rubber pendant to wear around my neck for options. Even with this and my somewhat active lifestyle, I rarely get all the way to 10K steps a day, but I get close. Of course it doesn't measure water sports like windsurfing or SUPing, or yoga,but I can add those exercise minutes in to my overall day. Some days I go over 10K due to a 40-minute elliptical workout then walking around Costco or other shopping. I think these things work great and loved your thoughtful and positive post!

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    1. I still only hit 10,000 very occasionally Terri, but I'm doing at least double my old steps these days and if a little thing buzzing on my wrist is all the incentive I need then it's been worth every penny :)

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  2. I've been using my phone as a fitness tracker but am very tempted to get a separate tracker now!

    SSG xxx

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    1. I think it's having it buzz me when I've been sitting too long that is the best/worst feature SSG - it annoys me but makes me lift my game (and my butt out of the chair) I also have it set for my morning alarm and it's a pleasant way to wake up.

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  3. Good for you for getting a tool to measure your physical activities, Leanne. Tracking is important for improvement and motivation. I'm sure if you keep up your high number of steps daily and eat healthy, you'll see results. I walk or take public transit as I choose not to own a car so just by distance alone, I know how many kilometers I walk daily, usually 5K in the morning and at least another 5K during the day, plus regular exercises. When I work out on the elliptical or treadmill, it tracks my distance. I don't own any gadget, Leanne. I keep moving and with a relatively lean diet, I haven't had the MM creep yet. I know it's hard work to stay fit but we've got to do it for our health. Plus I like the warm sensation and naturally flushed cheeks after my walk or workout :)

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    1. I can't imagine walking 10k a day Natalie - I've grown so sedentary over the years, but making it to 5k+ isn't a bad effort for me and it definitely makes me feel like I'm making a bit of an effort - I just wish I was a runner and loved jogging for hours - it would make my life a lot easier!

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  4. Yes, there are so many fads Leanne and I try not to succumb to them either, as many are a waste of money. However, I've had a Fitbit and now a Garmin for several years and find a tracker to be very useful. I sit most of the day too and it really helps to have that reminder to get up and move ... and a prompt to keep walking until you reach that magical 10,000 steps a day!! :) #TeamLovinLife

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    1. It's funny how I thought it wouldn't make much difference Lyndall but it's nice to have been pleasantly surprised - and I'm really hoping that one day I'll wake up and realize my pants need a belt to keep them up!

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  5. I love my FitBit. I've been wearing it for over 12 months and it has certainly kept me on track with my movement and exercise. I now know pretty much how much exercise I have to do to achieve my 10,000 steps without looking at it, but I still wear it because I get a buzz out it when it vibrates on my wrist! #TeamLovinLife

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    1. You are certainly more active and outdoorsy than I am Kathy, but it really is about being reminded to get off the chair and to get outside - or even to walk around and make a coffee or do a little chore (not eating when I'm up is the biggest thing I have to fight though!)

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  6. Congratulations! I’m so glad you got one! I still have my cheap one but I’m thinking I should buy a Fitbit just so we could link to each other and coach each other to go further. Let me know when you have walked enough steps to make it to my house and we will meet for lunch. Lol

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    1. My FitBit is definitely more "Rah Rah!" than the cheaper one - it cheers me on and celebrates my successes. The Aussie in me finds it a bit annoying at times, but I'm a people pleaser - so being a FitBit pleaser is only to be expected I guess. I'll let you know when I'm getting close to your place so you can put the kettle on!

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  7. I should get one like this...that buzzes me when I'm sitting too long. Because I'm notorious for wanting to get "something" done before I get up and stretch!! But like they say "sitting is as bad as smoking"
    XOXO
    Jodie
    www.jtouchofstyle.com

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    1. If sitting really is the new smoking then I'm on at least a pack a day Jodie. Almost everything I love to do involves sitting on my tushie. Getting buzzed at least reminds me that time has passed (I tend to lose time perception when I'm blogging!) and it does motivate me to get up and put the kettle on at least :)

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  8. I also used a FitBit for a while, because although I practice yoga daily, I don´t walk enough!

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    1. Yoga is still on my bucket list Lorraine - and I definitely needed to up my moving around game, so this has helped - not sure how long the motivation will be maintained, but every little step is one more than I'd normally be taking :)

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  9. I have had one for a long while. I've recently upgraded to a different kind, but either way I find it's more of a watch for me than anything else, yet. Or for the time being, anyway. But I hope to be re-motivated by it soon. Glad it's been great for you!

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    1. I like it for the alarm function as much as anything Andrea - it's a nicer way to wake up in the morning, and it really does encourage me to get up when it buzzes that I've been sitting still for nearly an hour. I hope the motivation continues, but at least it's woken me up to how sedentary my lifestyle is.

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  10. I've been wanting to get one of those myself because I know that I'm not moving nearly enough.

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    1. The cheap version was a great introduction for me Rena - I figured it wasn't going to break the bank if I ended up hating it. What surprised me was how easy it was to wear and how helpful the little buzz was every hour - even if I only got up and did a lap of the house (or the work office).

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  11. I've got my little fitness tracker, but I'm intrigued about the feature that notifies you when you've been sitting too long. I wonder if mine has it? Going now to check . . .
    Thanks for the little nudge today!

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    1. My el-cheapo one had the function Diane and it really does help me get my butt moving off the chair. The FitBit has the same feature - except I have to do more steps each hour to keep it happy - otherwise it keeps giving me "encouraging" (annoying) reminders that I still have xxx number of steps to go this hour.

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  12. I've been wearing a fitbit since May 2017. There are positives and negatives for me. I've never aimed for the 10,000 steps a day, but used to manage 8000 until I started a new full-time job and travel between towns and just can't get my act together. I lowered my target to 6000 so I felt less like a failure and try to manage it on weekdays.

    I like the fact I'm prompted to get up and move about each hour (as my fitbit buzzes). It's more useful at home as I'm often in the middle of something at work and can't get up from my desk. I like the fact it encourages the teensiest bit of exercise - 'just a few more steps and I'll have reached x'.

    But I find it's easy to get obsessed about and often found myself pacing my corridor at 11pm to finish my steps. Or jogging on the spot to get to a certain figure etc... Also I've occasionally thought 'I won't worry about going for that walk as my fitbit is on the charger or I'm not wearing it' and that's not a good thing.

    I've started taking it off on weekends and trying not to worry that it's not giving me flashing lights and gold stars for the incidental exercise I do then!

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    1. I know what you mean about being obsessed Deb - I've been known to stand up and jog on the spot for a couple of minutes so that I've done my 250 steps for the hour. I figure it still got me up and my circulation moving, so it was better than ignoring the buzz and continuing to sit. I'm sure the novelty will wear off eventually, but if it motivates me to do 8,000 steps a day then I'm better off than when I was only doing 3-4,000 and thinking I was moving enough.

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  13. I am a fitbit user and I think I am obsessed. I know this because I swam with it accidentally and broke it. I felt a bit lost without it. It didn't take me long to replace it. (Cheaply) I'm trying to decide if I need a waterproof one. I really enjoyed reading your article. Thanks!

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    1. My husband drowned his too Whitney - it's a shame they aren't waterproof. They are a bit of an obsession - I look at mine several times a day at least :)

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  14. I also have a Fitbit Alta, Leanne, and I too was shocked at how few steps I get on a typical day, if I don't purposefully go for more steps. On a side note, I tried my first kale smoothie this week, and it was actually very good. A little too much work for me on a workday morning, but a nice weekend treat. Happy stepping!

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    1. I definitely think we may be kindred spirits Christie :) I'm not sure about joining you in a kale smoothie just yet, but it's good to know that they're not as revolting to drink as they look!

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  15. After years of wearing one, I've taken mine off - I was obsessing about the numbers...as I do. I've found though that I'm no longer as aware of what I'm doing, so maybe I'm just going to do the obsess, take off, obsess, retreat thing...

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    1. My husband eventually killed his Jo and hasn't replaced it because he was too obsessed with the numbers. I will confess to be being a bit more into it than I expected - especially if I'm close to my goal for the day - when I start high fiving myself I'll know it's time to give it away :)

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  16. Hi, Leanne - I am glad that you decided to try a fitness tracker and found that it works well for you. I am usually all about new gadgets but I found that using a fitness tracker just wasn't my thing. I do walk for most of my daily transportation, and regularly go to the gym/yoga so I figured while I was doing this, I would put my fitness tracker away. My husband on the other hand would be lost without his! I'd love to read more about the difference that your fitness tracker makes for you.

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    1. You are naturally more active than me Donna - I was quite surprised by how sedentary my days had become (at work and at home) so it's good impetus for me to have a little buzzed reminder to get up and have a bit of a walk around - doubling my steps each day must have an ongoing benefit (that's what I tell myself!)

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  17. OK, getting a FitBit is back on my to do list. I do have a Map-My-Walk app that I've used to see how long my Walk & Talks are.... and it tells you calories so I can splurge on a glass of wine with dinner that night without guilt. I just recently asked the question "how many steps in a mile" to see if I was anywhere near the 10,000 they recommend. (It depends on your pace/gait but 2000 is a good estimate.) I'm not moving enough, even on my big Walk & Talks. So it would be interesting to see what a regular day is... up and down the stairs, shopping. My guess, dismal.

    As far as trends, I have taken up yoga (my goal is once a week right now, it's helped me with balance and flexibility and core strength - things like sitting on the floor and getting back up easily!), and I do like quinoa (hubby doesn't but I make him eat it once in a while). Maybe it's time to succumb to the FitBit craze!

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  18. Good for you Leanne and I don't actually have a fitbit so might check out the one you bought. I remember when I tried the Steptember and had to get my 10,000 steps. Some nights I was walking around the lounge room to get my steps. Great to see how motivated you are and maybe you should enter a 5km walk (not run) to have something to work towards. x

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    1. You are such an encouragement to me Sue! You would smash the 10,000 steps on your running days - it's the days when we don't go anywhere when it really looks sad. When we went to Perth on Saturday I only did a bit of incidental walking and barely cracked 3,000 steps for the whole day!

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  19. I once signed up at work for some sort of corporate challenge when you had to log your steps every day and wear a pedometer. I thought it was just for a couple of weeks and to my horror found out it was for 3 months! I dislike with a passion someone or something monitoring my movements, being trapped in a challenge, or being committed to doing something like a certain number of steps every day. I will exercise where, when, and for how long I want, or not at all if I don't want to that day. I would never buy one of these gadgets, and if I was forced to wear one I'd still ignore it and do my own thing! I think these things work very well for 'obligers' and 'upholders' (see Gretchen Rubin's site re these tendencies) but not for 'rebels' like me! In the end it's about knowing what works for you as an individual.

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    1. It's funny what you've written because I would have said exactly the same thing six months ago. I have always wondered why anyone would want another gadget to guilt trip them about their lack of exercising! It's actually proved me wrong - probably because I'm not competing with anyone, it's just a way of encouraging myself to get up and move more - and I REALLY needed some motivation to get off my butt! That being said, I am definitely an Obliger - I learnt that a few weeks ago when I heard about these categories :)

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  20. I am glad that you have found wearing your fitbit positive. I have had a Charge 2 for over a year and I would be lost without it. Like you I was shocked at how few steps I actually took in a day. It felt like a lot but it was not. I am kind to myself and I have it set at 7000 steps, I very rarely make 10,000. I love the encouragement I get and the hourly buzz to move it. By the way :) I don't regard Keto as a fad, it reversed my sons diabetes after 13 years of suffering. I have been at my goal weight for over a year on a keto food plan, my blood checks are great as well. Sorry, I just had to add that little bit of info :) :)
    Kathleen
    Blogger's Pit Stop

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    1. Kathleen I have several friends that swear by the Keto diet too - I'm watching them lose weight and post pictures of their latest meal creations all over FB - so it must have something to recommend it - a bit like FitBits - you don't know what you're missing out on until you try one (and I very rarely hit the magic 10,000 mark)

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  21. I'm the same Leanne and resist following the herd ... at the moment I just rely on the pedometer on my phone but I have actually been thinking about a Fit Bit, but I like the sound of this cheaper version much better!

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    1. It was actually surprisingly accurate and not that different to the Fitbit Janet - I was surprised what you could get for less than $20 and it wouldn't have been a great loss if I'd ended up hating it and tossing it into a drawer somewhere!

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  22. Like you, Leanne I try to resist the latest fads - you listed many of the ones I consider ridiculous - keto diets and (shudder) cold shoulder tops. I considered a fitbit to be amongst those. Why get another gadget when my phone clocks my steps. But, I have to carry my phone everywhere. Even when I'm walking from one end of the house to the other. If i'm not carrying the phone I make concessions to the magic 10,000. Sooo, my friend has convinced me of the usefulness of one and has ordered a fitness tracker for me. Let's see if I need to up my movement.

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    1. Welcome to my world Kalpanaa! I don't have my phone in my hand all day - mine sits in my bag most of the time, so I had no idea how many steps I was taking each day. It was a bit of a rude awakening to find out I was doing a lot less than I'd hoped for! Good luck with your new gadget - I hope you enjoy it - I actually like mine.

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  23. I love that you didn't succumb to a craze and instead wanted to do something that would become more habitual in a healthy way. Healthy habits are how we make the changes we want. I too have a fitbit, and although it automatically sets the 10,000 steps as the goal, I changed mine to accurately reflect my life (I do strength and weight training, which don't reflect in my steps...but I don't beat myself up over not getting it). What I do like about it though, is the gentle reminder when I have been sedentary too long.

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    1. The sedentary buzz is a real bonus isn't it Danielle? I ignore it sometimes - or tell it to wait (like it can hear me???) but it has definitely encouraged me to add a few thousand more steps to my day - not the magic 10,000 by any means, but still many more than I was doing previously!

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  24. Hi Leanne, so glad you linked up at Wellness Wednesdays. Next month's topic if you are interested is Natural Wellness Tips. xx

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    1. I'll have to see if I have any tips to add to the party Sue. Eat healthy and move more would be my two biggest ones.

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  25. My Gear Fit tells me to get off my behind, too! Love that. Guilts me right up. I have enjoyed wearing a fitness tracker for several years. I really think I move more because I am aware of how little I move when left to my own devices.

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    1. That buzz on my wrist that reminds me to get off my bottom is the biggest selling point for me Leslie - I just have to stay out of the kitchen when I get up out of the chair - or I end up snacking instead of walking!

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