Thursday 12 October 2017

Why you need a fitness tracker.

I went to Vancouver a few weeks ago with my mom and my sister; we had lots of champagne, tequila, coffee, good food and laughs, shopping, walking everywhere.. and lots of tracking our steps. Or should I say, these two hardcores were tracking their steps what felt like hourly, comparing, getting competitive over who’s was reading higher, and meanwhile I couldn’t have found it more annoying – although I did like hearing about the calories burnt the one day we tackled 22 THOUSAND STEPS. Whoo Boy – I had a burger that night and enjoyed every single hard-earned bite. Anyway, I found it so annoying and was continually teasing them for being such dorks who obsessed over what their fitness tracker was telling them..

And then three weeks later, I promptly ate my words once I got my own and fell in deep, deep love with being a step tracking asshole myself.

aside - aren't my mom & sister gorgeous?! 

Jake recently got life insurance that included a free fitness tracker band – meant to be an incentive to continue being active & result in lower premiums, however being the stubborn boy he is, was pretty certain he was never going to wear it. Since I wanted to see what kind of steps I was getting in daily, what kind of calorie burn registered just by functioning and what kind of sleep I was getting, I decided to wear it myself and as long as they didn’t realize it was a woman and not a man wearing it, he’d reap the rewards. And oh man, life has been obsessively changed. I fucking love this thing. It stopped working momentarily for a few days and I was pissed because I had some really great active days, and didn’t get to reap the benefits of the app congratulating me. My coworker tried to tell me that as long as I felt proud that was all that mattered. Umm, thank you, I know you’re right technically, but I need that recognition in number form and I was super bitter my little tracker had missed out on recording my 12,000 step day.

I work in an office and sit upwards of 8 hours a day, and I’m a fairly sedentary person when I don’t have a reason to move. I believe the word for that is Lazy? But, I digress. Studies have come out identifying just how horrendously bad this is for your health, and I’d be lying if it didn’t really freak me out. I mean, these days you can just about pick anything and learn that eventually, it’s probably going to kill you if something else doesn’t first. But knowing that my job can shave years off my life, not to mention opens the door to heart disease or possible cancers? Fuck that.  Now here’s the thing: I pride myself on being pretty active, working out 3-4 times a week pretty vigorously, as well as working outside in our yard on the weekends, and going for long walks here and there. So even though my job might be low-key killing me, my exercise at least balances it out, right? Apparently not, because it’s 2017 and we can’t have nice things: these studies have shown that that doesn’t matter, the sitting for these extended periods are quite simply, no Bueno and it doesn’t matter how active you are during your personal time. Talk about a buzzkill/wake up call. Currently trying to figure out a way to get a treadmill desk approved by management.

So, what this tracker does best? It keeps me accountable, and it provides an attainable goal to reach if I just move a bit more than I’m used to. After about an hour or so of inactivity, it beeps at you a warning to move your ass. It continues to do so until you’ve satisfied it and gone for 200 steps, and then it shuts off again. Let’s be honest, how often have you sat at your desk and realized you haven’t gotten up for 4 or more hours!? I certainly have. With this guy, it doesn’t let me unless I ignore it, but then I feel guilty for ignoring it, and I end up going for a walk around the parking lot. This not only satisfies my tracker, it satisfies me. I get some fresh air, it is the quickest tension reliever, and I come back into the office with a bit more pep in my step.

It only took a week or so, but I’ve also become that annoying step tracker like my mom and my sister; I pace while brushing my teeth, pace while my coffee brews, I march in step at the photocopier, march in place while I wash my hands; anything for those steps man, anything. I now park my car at the furthest part of the parking lot at work, or anytime I run errands. I’m realizing now just how few steps I was getting in on rest days, and to be honest it was pretty eye opening. Like I said, this keeps me accountable, but it also shows just how quick & easy these changes are to make, and how they all add up.

This is the particular model I have, here, which is great as a start but it’s not the best. I have to track my workouts through My FitnessPal, because it hasn’t quite figured out my cardio routine yet, and it also doesn’t track heartrate to the extent that I’d like it to. The other day I spent an hour on the elliptical alternating between level 18, 15 & going no lower than 12 – hard as fuck, and makes you go slower because it feels like you’re pushing through sand. It recognized it as a leisurely, slow paced hour long walk for a whopping 110 calories because I was moving slow, whereas the machine read over 600 calories burned. You know, same same, but different.

If you’re looking to take the plunge, there are these options here, here and here. At any price range, having something to keep you accountable and aware is definitely worth it, and in my opinion should be on everyone’s Christmas list. My mom and sister welcomed me to the asshole step tracker’s club, after they (lovingly) made me eat my words. 

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