Harper’s Other Dad gave me a wonderful gift for my last birthday, a Fitbit. As homage to Tim Horton’s, the (formerly) Canadian donut shops, and because there is ironic humor in naming a fitness device after what are known around Casa de Harper as “sugar fried cakes of death”, we immediately christened it “The Timbit”. It is very cool. At its most essential, it counts the number of steps I walk each day. From the number of steps, time, and user-specific information I enter at set-up, it calculates various metrics; distance walked, intensity of pace, flights of stairs climbed, calories burned, etc. It also calculates how restful my sleep is, based on how much I move around while sleeping and how often I get out of bed. All this information is aggregated each day and displayed on a dashboard accessible either from my computer or my smart phone.
On the computer or phone app I can also, if properly diligent, log what I eat, the water I drink, and changes in my weight. I can set goals for any of the metrics and Timbit will monitor my progress. It sends me little messages via email or text giving me positive feedback and/or encouragement. “Great job! You only need 1800 more steps to meet your goal.” The psychological impact of the monitoring is significant. There are definitely times I will make different choices because I know it is watching; walk a few blocks and back rather than moving the car, take the stairs instead of the elevator, etc. The base goal is 10,000 steps per day. Obviously more is better but it is a surprising effective goal. It is achievable but it is a number I would not reach if I weren’t paying attention. A half hour on the elliptical or treadmill at the gym can be 4000. The average walk with Harper is 25o0 – 3000.
There are only two events that cause the wrist strap to communicate with me directly, rather than via email or text from the app. One is when it needs to be recharged, maybe once a week. The other is when I hit 10,000 steps. It vibrates intermittently and the number 10,000 flashes on the screen. It’s like a little celebration.
The single most important action I must take to meet my goals is to wear the thing. I am supposed to wear it all the time, but take it off when I shower or put my hands in water. When I forget to put it back on, it sits there next to the sink feeling abandoned and plotting revenge. Timbit knows it will have the last laugh. I may run all over the place before realizing I am not wearing it. At the end of the day it will show 3800 steps or some such dismal performance. Ha! Timbit showed me who’s boss.
Yesterday I only logged 6045 steps. I was running errands in the car in the morning and, in the afternoon, I was on the expressway for a couple of hours. Timbit does not care. It brooks no excuses. I’m making up for it today. As I type I am at 5794 for the day…and it’s only 11:00 AM.