Tuesday, 13 January 2015

How Fitbit Changed My Life

This made me laugh so much when I read it, I did have a Livestrong bracelet!! In all seriousness though I don't care if it makes me stupid or nerdy or weird, I am obsessed with my Fitbit.

Fitbit is a little wrist gadget, no bigger than a slimline watch, that tracks your activity in real time throughout the day. But this isn't just an ordinary pedometer - it syncs with a mobile app / internet based dashboard to give you detailed insight into your daily activity. Depending on which model you have (I have the Flex), you can count how many steps you've taken, how many floors you've climbed during the day if you always take the stairs, how many miles you've travelled, how many calories you've burnt, and how long you slept as well as the quality of your sleep. It syncs with other apps, so you can track activity with Runkeeper and you can add your Fitbit data and activity to My Fitness Pal (MFP) to have a real time estimate of how many calories you have left that day to stay under your goal.

This is where Fitbit absolutely changed my life!

I have been tracking my calorie intake for months with MFP. It definitely made me accountable with what I was eating and made me think twice about that extra couple of roast potatoes or that chocolate bar (my diary is public, so anyone can see what I have been eating). I had also been using Runkeeper to track my daily walks, as I tried to walk for around 30 minutes a day at an average 3-4 miles an hour pace. At the end of the day I'd complete MFP diary, and it would optimistically say I'd be at least 7lbs lighter after 5 weeks if "every day were like today". But I never really seemed to lose that much, and certainly nowhere near what they were predicting, even though I was being really good! What was I doing wrong?

I wasn't burning anywhere near the calories needed - that's what I was doing wrong!! MFP gauges how many calories you should burn on an average day from your current weight, age, height and gender. Mine seems to think that's around 2400. But when I first got my Fitbit, and just went about my normal day for the first day (to see what I was doing ordinarily) I only burnt about 1900. A good 500 less than I expected, even with the 30 minute walk! That's what I get for being sedentary for the rest of the day, and expecting a 30 minute walk to undo all the laziness of sitting on my backside the rest of the time! I also found out that my 30 minute walk was only about 4000-5000 steps, with the recommended per day at 10,000 steps. So I was seriously underestimating my calorie burn and therefore, I was eating 1700 calories plodding along happily thinking I had at least a 500 calorie defecit (because MFP told me I still had 200 calories left to eat today once I hit my 1500 target and I ain't going to say no to free food) not realising I was only burning a couple of hundred more than I was eating, which is nowhere near enough for steady and focussed weight loss.

So that's the major way that Fitbit has changed my life. Instead of thinking a 30 minute walk is enough, I am doing as much as possible during the day, to hit at least my 10k steps goal. I average about 11k-13k depending on what I've done that day. If it's been a really sedentary day and I get to 7pm and I've only done 8k steps for example, I will pace my lounge for 30 minutes to make up the extra. Seriously! I wander up and down my lounge which is all of 12 steps long! Over and over and over again! My husband thinks I am absolutely mad! But it has hugely increased my activity levels and Fitbit reliably tells me I am now, on average, very active for around 60 minutes a day and I burn around 2300-2400 calories per day on average. Much more like it!

I find myself parking much further away from everywhere - the supermarket, the office, visiting clients. I haven't started parking down the street from my house yet but there's still time...! I find myself not wanting to move a muscle while my Fitbit is charging (the battery life is about 5 days before it need recharging) because I don't want to waste a single precious step. I watched a football match on TV a couple of weeks ago and I walked on the spot for the WHOLE game. I did around 15k steps that day! It makes fitness a game - with challenges each day to meet your step goal or be the one who does the most steps in a week (you can add friends to your Fitbit dashboard and compete against them). And I find myself thinking "I'm only 600 away from the next thousand... I might as well pace the lounge for a few minutes"!

I've only had my Fitbit since the 3rd of December so just over 5 weeks now, and I have lost 3lb! And that's including Christmas and New Year where I didn't put on a single pound. I kept up my steps over the week, kept to my calories (except for Christmas Day and Boxing day -  that'd be impossible!!) and I have lost three whole pounds which I am extremely excited about! And it's FUN that's the main thing - going for a 30 minute tracked Runkeeper walk was boring and I had to drag myself out of the house. Now, doing little bits all day and extra bits here and there with a bit of lounge-pacing, I am more active, more healthy, and having more fun! And, hopefully, I can lose that final stone and a bit I have left to go!

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