Every step you take

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Back in May, I dropped a hint to Tom and the kids that I’d like a new Fitbit activity tracker for Mother’s Day. It’s part wrist-watch and part step-counter. It even syncs up to my iPhone and vibrates on my wrist if I have an incoming phone call, fitbit altatext or a calendar reminder.

Seven weeks later, I’m glancing down at my Fitbit and feeling a bit frustrated. A bit guilty. Maybe a bit resentful. This thing watches every step I take! Sure, that’s why I wanted it, but that was back when I believed I was an active person. I assumed the Fitbit would confirm that theory and ease my guilt about not making it to the gym. The Fitbit was supposed to bear witness to how much running around I do in the course of a normal day.

Instead, the Fitbit has made it painfully obvious that running errands does not involve actual running. It involves mostly sitting in the car while I drive this kid to the orthodontist and that kid to Vacation Bible School and the other kid to a golf lesson. If my car was wearing a Fitbit, the activity numbers would be off the charts. My numbers, however, are less than stellar.

Thankfully, my new Fitbit has a feature called “reminder to move.” If I don’t walk a certain number of steps within a given hour, it will vibrate on my wrist at exactly 10 minutes before the hour to remind me to get up and walk around – an electronic nudge to leave my desk chair. As you may have heard on recent news reports, sitting still is the new smoking. That stuff will kill you.

When I turned on the “reminder” feature, I realized just how quickly an hour goes by. “What? Buzzing so soon? Time to move again? I swear I just sat down!” But there’s no arguing with this thing. It doesn’t care that 50 minutes feels more like 15 minutes. It wants what it wants, and what it wants is more steps. More get up and go. More movement.

Some days, I give it what it wants. It’s particularly happy when I walk all over the house putting away laundry and then do a few laps around the Walmart Supercenter while getting the groceries. When I reach the goal of doing 10,000 steps in a day, it flashes a celebratory message on the electronic display – the equivalent of a “gold star” for being a good little walker.

Other days, I sit at my desk too long, drive the car too much and leave the laundry in a basket. It doesn’t flash the word “loser” on the electronic display, but I get the feeling it wants to. I can sense it silently judging me.

fitbit pie chartThe worst part is what happens at the end of the week. My Fitbit sends me an email with a “recap” of the week’s activity. There’s nothing quite like seeing your personal failings represented in a pie chart. (Ooh… pie. Pie sounds good right now, doesn’t it?)

The good news is that there’s at least one activity where I’m showing progress. The Fitbit also tracks my sleep time (since, in addition to too much sitting, not enough sleep will also kill you.) On Saturday mornings, the Fitbit is awfully impressed with me because, given a semi-quiet house and a dark room, I can blow right past the recommended 8 hours and do 9 or even 10 hours straight without lifting an eyelid.

So there, Fitbit! Stick that in your pie chart and smoke it.

gwen rockwoodGwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of nwaMotherlode.com. To check out Gwen’s book, “Reporting Live from the Laundry Pile: The Rockwood Files Collection,” click HERE.

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