I got a Fitbit for Christmas 2017.
(I wish to take this moment to remind people to never buy someone a Fitbit or any other kind of fitness device without them asking for one.)
I decided to set myself the challenge of not going below 10000 steps on any day for the year. I decided on the last day of January to make it a month long challenge because I’d learned what needed to from the challenge. Amusingly the BBC had a programme and article that day about how we should be aiming for the ‘Active 10’ rather than ‘10000 steps’ You can read it here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-42864061
I learned different things:
- Firstly, amazingly, SlaveToFitbit.com is available.
- My legs ache when I do lots of walking or standing but rarely when I run.
- I easily get obsessed over data.
- That obsessive behaviour can be positive fuel, but also can be bad.
- I rarely stray from the paths I know
- I learned how to think about walking as a part of my regular travel plans.
I love a challenge. Last year I entered a 10 week challenge at the gym and that really helped kick things off with my weight loss. I had started, but that really got things going. I didn’t win the competition but I was one of 4 runners up and I took that as a big success. By the end of the year I had stalled and needed new motivation, a new challenge.
Getting my Fitbit, the natural challenge seemed to be to aim for 10000 steps every day. The Fitbit ecosystem is very much built around that, and has step competitions you can do with friends and people your friends have invited. I set my goal and got to work. And it WAS work. I had to get my steps in. I can tell you that it takes just under 2500 steps from my flat to the train station. It is 1500 to the golf shop (AKA Pokestop) and back. A brisk 30 min walk is around 3000 steps. I started planning my day around it, where I’d park, if I’d need to go out for an additional walk or not. I knew the numbers. I went for walks. The day I realised how many of the numbers I knew and how much it was affecting my daily planning I googled slavetofitbit.com. I was surprised to find it available.
Side effect, I got achy legs again. I’ve had “bad legs” since I was a kid. I’ve been told by many a doctor that it’s growing pains but at 34 and 5 foot 2 and a bit, I don’t believe them. I’ve never really believed them. My own investigations and Dr Google gave me a diagnosis of restless leg syndrome. There are different kinds of RLS, I get the painful kind. I get the kind that had me in hospitals as a kid getting tests to see if I had childhood arthritis or not. Thankfully that wasn’t it. Since the start of the year I’ve had a few episodes of “bad legs” and many days although I’m not having a “bad legs” I’m way more aware of my lower limbs than anyone should be. Dull ache. The only thing I have changed since December is the walking. Also, any day where I’ve had to stand for long periods will end in “bad legs” but that has always been the case. Weirdly, running doesn’t seem to have any effect and over the last year I’ve done rather a bit of that so I’d have noticed by now.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am a fan of data. I love a spreadsheet. Thankfully I have not gone down the spreadsheet route with this. I have nipped some of the obsession in the bud. When I left the other half in my flat with the instructions to “play computer games until I buzz” I realised I’d gone to the bad place. His back wouldn’t have been happy with the speed I was walking, hence giving him game time. We don’t get as much time together as I’d like so realising part way through this very quick strut that I had made the choice of steps over romance saddened me and sealed the deal that it would be January only. Funny part to this story, I realised this and came home; I was at 9000 steps. He sent me back out to finish because he wanted to be supportive and knew that the vein in my head would twitch being so close to a goal. I went round the block and came back timed so it would buzz as I was getting to the couch again. I told him then I’d decided it was for January only. That was January 31st.
So far this sounds like a very negative experience, but I have some positive take aways too. I discovered community centres, parks and more that I didn’t know were there, all within walking distance of my home. I worked out that there is one affordable (if you know where to get your ticket stamped) car park in Edinburgh that I can use as a centralish hub and walk to different bookings from. That wouldn’t have occurred to me before. I also figured out that many things I automatically drive to I can walk to faster than I thought, so maybe I should walk after all.
So far, as I write this on the evening of 8th Feb I have reached 10000 steps 6 out of 8 days in February. But now it is a nice side effect of other activity and not the goal itself.
February has other projects now, but that is a blog post for another day.