The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly from my FitBit

I finally got a FitBit and I can’t resist sharing what I’ve learned–the good, the bad, and the ugly.

First of all, I love the hourly reminders to get up and move if I haven’t walked 250 steps in the hour. I smile when I earn fireworks and silly badges for hitting 10,000 steps and exceeding my other goals. I was tickled pink the first time I wore it hiking and watched more than 21,000 steps, 11 miles, and 158 floors tick by. I love the fact that I am using it to push my activity and heart rate levels.

But then there was the day I worked at my desk all day. The weather was lousy. I had lots to do. I was so engrossed, the hours slipped by. I didn’t get up each hour to move. I ran out of time to exercise. Pretty much the only calories I burned are the ones attributed to living and breathing, not moving. Instead of my usual 20 – 40 floors, I climbed only 8. I took fewer than 3000 steps. My heart rate may never have broken 60 bpm. I just kept working. And the resulting numbers made me sick.

It was horribly depressing. Not because I had blown a streak or had a bad day. No, it was horribly depressing because I knew this wasn’t just a once in a blue moon kind of day. Never mind that I consider myself a very active person, suddenly I knew this happened far too often. And I knew how easily I could have many more of these days. I believe that we have to keep moving if we want to be able to keep moving. Walking, skiing, tennis, biking–it doesn’t matter, but the more the better. But now I knew that when the weather is bad and I have lots of work to do and I don’t have specific plans to hike or play tennis or work out, nearly zero movement is a very real possibility.

Equally depressing was seeing how few calories I had burned. It made me recognize the complete inanity of all those articles I’ve read about food: best combinations of foods, eating for your blood type, eating before vs. after exercise, eating early vs. late—it’s all nonsense if you burn as few calories as I burned that day.

I haven’t had my FitBit long enough to know my typical averages and ranges. And I never will. Because I never intend to have another day that misses the marks so badly.

And that may be the biggest lesson of all. Forget the exercise and calories. It is the jolt that was amazing. It stood me right up straight. It changed my beliefs. And it is changing my daily behavior. Overnight.

My new belief: Every day deserves at least 10,000 steps. I believe if I keep my FitBit happy and match snacks to extra miles, my scale will behave itself and I’ll be walking at least 10,000 steps a day for many years to come.

While my scale makes me wish things were different, my FitBit tells me to move. Wishful thinking is epidemic. The world needs more FitBit-like devices buzzing our wrists and telling us to move! To move our feet. Move our decisions. Move our projects. Move our people. Move our strategy. To change our behaviors. And to prevent us from:

  • Harboring illusions about who we are, individually or as an organization
  • Convincing ourselves that we are on the right track despite virtually zero improvement
  • Resigning ourselves to business-as-usual that we know in our gut is drowned in disclarity
  • Dismissing unpleasant indicators as flukes, which is exactly what I could have done with my FitBit
  • Squelching the jolts that make us uncomfortable and ought to shake up our beliefs

What signals have you been ignoring? What new beliefs would convince you to change your behavior, and that of your organization, for the better?

Think about it! I have some walking to do!

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