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An Almanac For The 21st Century

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Well, I Got a FitBit. And I Love It.

Well, I Got a FitBit. And I Love It.

I am the last person I ever thought would get a fitness tracker. I’m even less likely to be a person who loves their fitness tracker. AND YET, I now own a FitBit, and I absolutely love it.

When I moved to Seattle, I didn’t exercise for five months. I used to go to pilates class every week and when I couldn’t go to pilates, I’d go to physical therapy. I walked my dog every day, often on long walks that took us all over Beverly Hills. Then I moved and all that was pushed aside in favor of unpacking, organizing, and letting the dog out into the backyard (because for the first time we HAD a backyard and why not take advantage?!)

I also had a hard time getting my health insurance figured out, and once I did, I then had to wait awhile to get in to see my new rheumatologist. I have fibromyalgia, connective tissue disease, and inflammatory arthritis, all of which have symptoms that are lessened with regular exercise, but can also get much worse with too much exercise. Its’ a fine balance that I still struggle to get right. My new rheumatologist said that I need to be getting more cardio in. I don’t take leisurely walks with the dog - I keep a brisk pace - but she was thought that wasn’t enough. I needed to pay attention to my heart rate and make sure I was raising it pretty high, a few times a week.

Without the help of technology this would have been such a tedious task I honestly wouldn’t have done it. What would i have done? Taken my pulse ten times during a walk and write down my heart rate in a little notebook I kept around my neck? UGH. NO.

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Luckily for me, I could just spend $130 and get a tech bracelet that monitors my heart rate, tracks my exercise, and even tells me how I’m sleeping. My FitBit Alta HR started as something to help me track activity, and now it’s become this little buddy on my wrist that makes sure I’m taking care of myself and cheers me on when I reach my goals.

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The goal everyone talks about with fitness trackers is 10,000 steps a day. That’s the amount The American Heart Association recommends. I have mobility issues and chronic pain, and I’ve set my goal to 8,000. And I don’t reach it every day! Some days are high pain days where I’m lucky if I get to half of my goal. But it’s good to know, even if it’s not the ideal you’ve set for yourself.

You can set so many different goals on your FitBit besides steps. I have a goal to take 250 steps every hour between 10am and 7pm. Another to sleep 9 hours a night. And I aim to exercise 5 days a week. All of these are customizable - or you can choose not to use them at all!

The route I walked is edited out, but when you’re using it for real it shows streets and parks and whatnot, instead of a white void.

The route I walked is edited out, but when you’re using it for real it shows streets and parks and whatnot, instead of a white void.

I also love that I can log exercise after I’ve done it, like with barre class, and also track my walks all within the FitBit app. When I log a barre class it catalogs where my heart rate was throughout class, and when I walk I get audio cues at each mile (you can have more cues but I just want to know distance). I used to use a tracking app to log my walks, but having it all in one place is SO MUCH easier. That being said, there are apps that sync with your FitBit, like exercise and calorie trackers, but usually you have to have a paid membership for that.

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One thing I didn’t think I’d be so into was the sleep tracker. You wear your FitBit all the time, unless you’re swimming or showering (the Alta HR is “splash proof but not waterproof”) including sleeping. When you wake up and your FitBit syncs, the app tells you all about how you slept. Because chronic pain and anxiety make me a terrible sleeper, it’s nice to have something tell me how the night went. I also have it set up to send me a message at 10:30 that says “go to bed!” which, honestly, I really need. One downside is that if you aren’t moving for a long period of time, it will think you’re asleep. I will often go to bed and read for hours (Really! Hours!) before I actually go to sleep. In these instances my sleep tracker will say I went to bed at 8 and tossed and turned when actually, I was just reading (and occasionally moving my arm). It’s a minor thing, but something to be aware of if you regularly just lay down and don’t move for two hours. (Oh man, now I really hope I’m not the only person who does this.)

You can also customize how your FitBit looks. From the screen to the band - everything can be changed to suit your style. I have a metal band on mine that I got from Amazon - it makes the FitBit look more like jewelry, and it’s much more comfortable to wear when exercising than the silicone band it comes with. But you can choose a band that’s as simple or fancy as you like. When it comes to FitBit bands, if you can think of it, someone has made it. And you really don’t have to spend a lot of money. I got two of these magnetic closure metal bands in silver and black for $15.

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Last but not least, FitBit is so encouraging, and you earn badges for setting and reaching certain goals. I am very motivated by things like stickers, so this is something I love. You can also join groups or connect with your friends and family to see what everyone else is up to, but I am perfectly happy with my little app just tracking me and cheering when I do well.

I haven’t seen my rheumatologist since I’ve gotten my FitBit, but I know personally that I’m getting more and better quality exercise with this in my life. Chronic illness is a real asshole, and anything that helps me feel like I’m in control of my body instead of disease is worth it. Plus, considering all a FitBit does (I just highlighted what I like, there’s so much more!) $130 is a great value. I will say, if you’re considering buying something like this, look around for the best deal. Sure, it’s $130 everywhere, but what else can you get? I debated buying from Target where I get 5% off with my Target Card, or Nordstrom where I get points. I ended up buying my FitBit at Nordstrom on a triple points day, and I got a $20 Nordstrom Note almost immediately. This is advice for buying anything, but if your’e spending over $100 really plan it out so you get maximum kickbacks. Then get to steppin’!

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