Trimming Down Part 2: The Fitbit

If good sleep is the flywheel that started the weight loss engine, the Fitbit has been an effective odometer for me.

In September of 2015, my employer gave me a Fitbit Flex for my 3 year anniversary. It’s little more than a digital pedometer. It does come with a phone app and website for logging – food, water, sleep and activity. I didn’t initially do anything special with the Fitbit other than just wear it and get used to it for the first few days.

Fitbit measures activity in steps, like other pedometers. The math it does to determine the distance you’ve traveled seems to be based on what you have inputted as your stride length. There are two basic ways to measure your stride length:

  1. measure a few steps with a yardstick or measuring tape
  2. measure a large number of steps over a long distance
Stride Length

Fitbit’s web site lets you set your stride length.

I opted for  #2, since I felt like getting an average over a long distance would be more accurate in the long run. Fortunately, the Fitbit app has an activity tracker that uses your phone’s GPS to measure distance traveled. In my case, I regularly walk to the end of our main boulevard and back, a distance of 3.2 miles. Some number crunching got me to a stride length of 2 feet, 8 inches.

First 28 Days Steps

My steps log in the first 4 weeks with the Fitbit

More importantly than stride length, though, was my daily steps goal. I started out at the default Fitbit goal, which is 10,000 steps. That sounded like a lot, and I wanted to see how close I was getting on a daily basis before changing too many habits at once. On average, I was getting 6,500 steps in per day without doing any extra exercise. Some days were more sedentary.

The thing I love about the Fitbit is that it’s a “set it and forget it” wearable. With the exception of charging it overnight every 5th day or so, I have it on all my wrist all the time.

When it comes to the goals, I focus 80% of my willpower on 2 numbers: my daily steps goal and my calorie intake. In the next post, I’ll talk about the first, and most difficult habit to change as I got started trimming down.

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