If you don’t own one, you certainly know what it is. The Fitbit® has become THE trendy accessory for both fitness fanatics and those who aspire to be. Wearers count steps, calories burned, calories eaten, and monitor sleep quality.
That’s a lot of information! But the question begs to be answered- does wearing a Fitbit actually make us more fit? Below we will discuss the positives and negatives of wearing an activity monitor so that you can optimize your use of it, or ditch any unwanted side effects you may identify.
How Will You Use That Tool In Your Hand?
I doubt that the use of activity trackers would have reached such popularity if they were not helpful in some way. After all, “knowledge is power”. Being aware of our activity level or lack thereof can motivate us to make changes and to keep going. Setting step goals and hitting new milestones is incredibly motivating and tracking gives us measurements that would have been difficult to tally otherwise.
A Fitbit® can get a tired mom off the couch after dinner because she is just 500 steps from her goal; it can turn a coffee break at work into a mid-morning walk; and it can keep us from eating a second helping of supper when we are already full, knowing it took us 45 minutes at the gym just to burn 200 calories.
As with any tool, it is how we use it. With a pen I can write a lovely thank you note or my daughter can draw on our new couch. One tool different outcomes.
5 FITBIT® Pitfalls To Avoid
“I’ve Taken 10,000 Steps Today, Surely I Can Eat Another Cookie.”
If you are anything like me, you’ll look for any excuse to eat a cookie! If we are not careful, an activity tracker can be a means to that end. By using Fitbit® math we can conclude that we’ve “earned” food that we are not hungry for. And, if we are honest, those unmentionables may be the very thing keeping us from our goals.
Listen for those justifications, they are sly little foxes but you can catch them!
Replacing “Am I hungry” And “I Am Full” With “What Does My Fitbit® Say?”
Relying on an activity tracker to tell us what and how much our body needs disconnects us from our physical hunger and fullness signals, two crucial tools for lean, healthy living. If you are truly hungry and you pass on a meal because you didn’t have the allotted calories available, there’s a pretty good chance that you may find yourself overeating later in the day. Essentially you are eating more than you would have if you had honored those signals.
On the flipside, let’s say it’s 9 pm and you’ve burned a truckload of calories over the course of a day and yet you aren’t really that hungry. What do you do? You’ve got enough of a “budget” to eat, so you go for it. Once again, the outcome is the opposite of why you purchased the activity tracker in the first place.
Do yourself a favor and let your internal “start” and “stop” signals trump what that little computer takes a stab at estimating.
(If you are a fast eater, like me, this post on Eating Slowly will give you some great tips! Slowing down is what helps us connect to those signals!)
“Nah, I’ll Skip The Walk, I Forgot My Fitbit® Today.”
Another pitfall to keep your eyes and ears tuned in for is tying in the value of exercise too tightly with the numbers. The benefits of exercise go way, way (way!) beyond fulfilling our step quota. What the tracker fails to monitor is how regular activity can reduce our risk of innumerable disease, both physical and mental in nature.
Keeping a wider scope of why you are lacing up those running shoes is a vital way to keep your motivation consistent, even on days your battery dies. No doubt you have a hopeful vision of yourself as an older, healthy you. “10-years-from-now” you will be glad you kept moving for them!
Replacing “What Kind Of Exercise Do I Enjoy?” With “What Exercise Burns The Most Calories/Gets Me The Most Steps?
We like to do things we like and such is the case with exercise. We are unlikely to continue to do an activity that feels like drudgery, even if it racks up our step count. Avoid getting caught up in what your digital “personal trainer” says and ask yourself, “what is my favorite way to move?”. Even if you don’t love to exercise, I bet it would be a lot easier to convince yourself to go on a walk with a friend than to sweat your eyeballs out in a 90-minute boot camp.
Make friends with exercise and use your Fitbit® to motivate you to do what you LOVE!
“I Already Ruined It, So I’ll Just Go Ahead And Eat It,” My Step Goal Is So Far Away, I’ll Just Skip My Evening Run.”
I don’t know about you but I can turn just about anything into a rule. We set a standard (necessary or not) and then we either a) meet or b) fail to meet that standard. When our choices are so black and white it is difficult to find the middle ground. If we turn our activity tracker into another rule or just another diet, we risk blowing off our real goals for the sake of hitting our numbers.
Watch that you don’t become a slave to your Fitbit®, it is a tool for your benefit.
(The all-or-nothing attitude around food does us no favors. If you find yourself thinking this way, this post about candy has some awesome tidbits!)
To conclude, as you can see, with any tool, it is all about how we use the tool to accomplish our intended purpose. By knowing the mental traps that can come from wearing an activity tracker you are better positioned to make the most of your investment of time and money. Remember why you bought your watch in the first place- was it to reach a health, fitness, or weight loss goal? Ask yourself how you can avoid pitfalls and strive for what you REALLY want- progress!
Brandice Lardner is a Certified Personal Trainer, Nutrition Coach, Author, Amazon #1 Best Selling Author, and Jesus Girl whose mission in life is to help women ditch the diet mentality and find peace with food and their bodies so that they are better equipped to do the great things God has called them to do.