I didn’t give much thought to my health when I was younger. I was a healthy weight for my height but had more than a few unhealthy habits, such as staying up late, drinking copious amounts of cherry coke, and consuming foods from 7/11 which I’m positive were about 90% plastic.
But after college when I entered the workforce, it was like flipping a switch. Suddenly those extra calories were registering on the bathroom scale. My weight crept up slowly over the years, and my energy levels flagged.
Losing that twenty-year-old metabolism and getting a sedentary desk job was like a one-two punch to my health and overall well-being. Over the past decade, I managed to implement some healthy habits like running and yoga which helped a ton, but at times it was difficult to stay motivated or know just how effective my endeavors were.
Enter the Fitbit Charge 2.
This handy device was gifted to me by my spouse last Christmas, and it’s been a total game changer. I managed to lose more than 10 pounds in just a few months!
What Fitbit Taught Me
Yes, Walking IS Real Exercise!
I used to think that if it wasn’t hard, then it wasn’t really exercise. Walking seemed like way too lightweight an activity for me to invest my time in. Fitbit finally showed me the light! My daily calorie burn from a sedentary day at the office would be around 1600-1700, but add in a 40 minute power walk, it easily bumps it up to 2000-2100.
Not only is it great exercise, but it’s much gentler on the body than running is. I still love running, but walking is something I can commit to daily without worrying about hurting myself. (And you may remember how prone I am to that!)
Key Action: In addition to whatever other exercises you enjoy, walk, walk, walk!
Quality Sleep is Important
These days it’s common knowledge that sleep is critical to maintaining your health. Getting less than 6 hours can lead to increased stress hormones and food cravings, neither of which are good for the waistline. Although late nights had long since been a thing of the past for me, I still wasn’t getting enough quality sleep. The Charge 2 monitors your heart rate while you sleep and compiles the data into neat graph when you sync the next morning. Not only does it show you how long you slept, it shows you how long you spent in deep sleep, light sleep, and REM sleep. This data helps to identify patterns in your day to day that may have an effect on your sleep.
For example, if I had two extra large coffees in the morning instead of one (Yeah I know, I never said I kicked all my unhealthy habits) I would get much less deep sleep than on days when I had a more reasonable amount of caffeine.
Key Action: Aim for a minimum of 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. Study your sleep cycles and see where you can tweak your routine to get better ZZZs.
There’s Always Time for Exercise
Sometimes I have a “go big or go home” type attitude towards things. I used to think if I wasn’t logging a 5k run then there was no point in exercising at all. I’m not sure where this all-or-nothing attitude came from but I was dead wrong. Even a few minutes of walking can make a difference, and it all adds up! Fitbit makes it even easier for you to sneak steps in during the day by gently zapping your wrist once an hour, signalling you to get off your duff and go for a jaunt to the water cooler.
Key Action: Whether it’s 10 minutes of walking logged before work, at lunch, or after dinner, get in short spurts of activity to boost your daily calorie burn!
Calories Add Up Super Fast
For the first few weeks I used the food logging function religiously. The app has a daily suggested allowance for calories that fluctuates throughout the day depending on how many calories you’ve burned. Calorie consumption is prorated to discourage you from eating all your day’s worth of calories at breakfast.
At first I was discouraged at how often I was going over my daily budget, but it helped me identify what the big “calorie bombs” were. For me, the main culprits were the calories I clocked at happy hour. Even just one or two drinks a day can add hundreds of empty calories. So, I cut out the 5 pm martini and it made staying within the calorie budget infinitely easier.
After a couple months, I stopped using the calorie logger because I got a lot better at gauging how many calories I was taking in every day and I didn’t really need it anymore.
Key Action: Don’t worry about every single morsel you’re eating. Instead, identify your “calorie bomb” and either remove or mitigate it.
Competition is a Strong Motivator
Early morning runs, lunch hour power-walks, and lengthy, post-dinner scuffles around the living room became commonplace whenever I was engaged in a Fitbit challenge instigated by fellow fitbit friends. Every time I checked the current standings, I’d exclaim things like “There’s no way I’m losing by 200 steps!” or “Gah, they passed me again!”, and I’d get off the couch and walk some more. It’s surprisingly fun no matter who ends up taking first place, and since in a close game everyone typically ends up hitting their step goal, everyone’s a winner in the end.
Key Action: Never back down from a challenge! Compete in a step-off with your friends as often as possible.
Knowledge is Power
There have been some studies that show the Fitbit isn’t 100% accurate, and I agree that this is completely true. The technology has come a long way in the past couple years but there are still times when it thinks I’ve logged 100 steps when I was simply blow-drying my hair. That being said, I would estimate that it’s still anywhere from 70-80% accurate. That is more than enough to gauge your habits and activity level to see where you can make improvements!
Key Action: Use the data as a guideline to help you make healthier decisions during your day-to-day.
It’s All About Balance, Balance, Balance
The biggest thing the Fitbit taught me is that being healthy doesn’t have to be hard. You don’t have to walk ten thousand steps every day or never eat cake again to be healthy. You don’t have to be perfect.
You just need a little bit of knowledge, motivation, and moderation.
PS – If you’d like to pick up a Fitbit or learn more about them, you can check it out at the link below. (Affiliate link – rest assured I only promote products that I really love!)