Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Why I Love (And Hate) My Fitbit

I got a Fitbit in January. Not because it was January and I was making all kinds of crazy resolutions, but because my kids were telling me how much they liked theirs. (What is a Fitbit? Basically it's a fancy, high-tech pedometer. Google it. I had to.) At first I thought, nah, I'm fine thanks. I walk all over Portland and I'm sure what I do is more than enough. Then I remembered that I've been gaining a bit of weight over the last few months, and well, maybe a little extra incentive to move my bones would be a good thing.

What convinced me to take the plunge was the social aspect of Fitbit. Friends can tag friends in chummy challenges, either to simply make your own personal step goal, or to compete for top stepper. I don't like gritty competition, but I do find that I'm more likely to make my own personal goal if someone else is paying attention. That part is working for me.

I've had my Fitbit for just over 2 weeks, and it really is getting me to move more than I was before. A lot more. I enjoy the challenges with the kids and a couple of friends. I keep my inner circle small and supportive. I joined a Facebook group called Fitbit Women Warriors Over 50. And after a week, I even bumped my daily step goal from 10,000 to 11,000. I want to be slightly above "just barely good enough to stay alive," which is what 10,000 steps a day is supposed to be. Sheesh! A normal person never comes even close to that, no matter how active we think we are. This is where the Fitbit reality check is very eye-opening.

A funny side note - the second day I had my Fitbit, my son challenged me to a "10K." I thought that was kind of ambitions for what was a work day for him, but OK, I jumped in and set out to walk those 10 kilometers, or 6.2 miles. About halfway through the day it dawned on me that 10K in Fitbit speak means 10,000 steps! Yeah, I felt kind of dumb...

So here I am, two and a half weeks in, doing my best every single day to make my 11K steps, and I like it. Mostly. In fact, what I like about Fitbit is exactly the same thing I don't like about it. It keeps me moving. Until I've reached my goal for the day, which usually takes most of the day, I'm not content to sit and relax. I even hate sitting here to write a blog post. I should be walking! How does anyone get any work done with this thing strapped fashionably to their arm?

And by the way, if you're considering getting a Fitbit, I do recommend getting the one that goes on your wrist rather than the one that goes in your pocket or clips to your clothes. Out of sight, out of mind, you know? Wear it with style, and never apologize for doing something good for your own sweet self.

I decided it might be good to start using the gym in our building to speed things up and free up some time for other things. I went down there Sunday morning and got on the elliptical, for the first time ever, and I pretty much hated everything about it - intensely intent (younger) people who had not so much as a nod of encouragement to offer, a broken TV on my machine, and relentless, boring repetitive exercise that felt exactly like exercise, in a crowded little room overlooking the traffic of the church across the street. I lasted twenty minutes and barely made 2,000 steps. It just wasn't worth it.

Sure, it's probably good for me to change up my "workouts." So are Brussel's sprouts, which I know are at least as wildly popular as sweaty gyms, but guess what - I don't like them. I see no reason why I have to eat them when I eat all other vegetables. and by the same line of reasoning, if I walk all the time, almost everywhere I go, and enjoy a form of exercise that feels real and natural and happy to me, do I really need to submit to torture machines to get the job done? I think not.

So now, as I wrap this up, I check the app on my phone and see that I've put in 4,376 steps today. So far. That includes my twenty minutes of elliptical insanity. At this point, I'm taking a deep breath and a drink of water, and heading out the door to walk to Whole Foods, add some real-life steps to my real live life, and buy something to fix up for dinner. (Anything but Brussels sprouts, of course.)

Yes, I'm inspired, and sometimes even self-goaded into perpetual motion. But maybe the world won't come to an end (and my butt won't fall to me knees) if I stop for a cup of coffee somewhere along the way. Balance, I say to my grasshopper self. It's all about the balance.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015


I was talking to my daughter, Lauren, the other day about clothes, and mentioned that I hate (and almost never wear) pants. What I really meant was I see no reason to wear clothes that hurt me. I didn't even remember at the time that when she was little, Miss Lauren absolutely refused to wear pants of any kind, no matter what the weather. She was all about dresses, soft, comfy dresses that moved with her, felt cool in the summer, and worked just fine with the addition of tights in the winter. That's exactly how I dress now, while the jeans lie folded in the closet.

It's about making my world softer, and I'm noticing that I'm doing it more and more, in other areas of my life too. Our home is filled with comfortable, soft furniture, tossed with pillows and draped with cuddly blankets. Cloth napkins often replace paper ones. A simple bowl of good food, held in my hand, is my favorite way to eat. A cup of tea is a near-constant companion. And classical music drifts from Pandora stations most of the day.

I once read that Doris Day was always filmed through a slightly blurry lens because she had tons of freckles. Watch one of her movies, and you'll notice that every shot of her is a little bit softer and dreamier than those of the other actors. I call it the Doris Day Effect when I edit photos of myself. Where clarity and sharp focus used to be so important to me, in photos and in life, I'm beginning to see that hazy lines are not a bad thing at all.

It's easy to be hard on ourselves, and on others - demanding, judgmental, even mean. What would it be like if we became softer and softer, let the edges blur, let go of sharp focus, and just started to see the world through a somewhat more gentle filter.

This is kind of a new way of thinking for me. I'm prone to pokey edges at times. I'm going to play with the idea of a general "softness of being" and see what happens. Maybe it's just because it's winter in the Northwest, or because I'm getting... gulp... older. Does the reason matter? I kind of think not. I also think it might be time to donate those abandoned jeans to someone who wants them, and to replenish my supply of fleece-lined leggings. They are absolutely the softest, most lovely thing in my wardrobe. I'll remind Lauren to get some too.