The kids bought me a Fitbit Charge watch last December. I had gotten pretty fat (in saying “pretty fat” I am being somewhat gracious toward myself) and had been prescribed a couple of medications for high blood pressure and cholesterol, measurements for both which were borderline. The doctor told me that I could probably get off of at least one of the medications if I just got some exercise and lost some weight.
If you do not know about the Fitbit watches, they are essentially pedometers, some of which have things like altimeters to determine when you climb stairs and heart-rate monitors. They also tell time. The watches connect to the internet through a bluetooth connection to upload the from the watch to a cell phoe or computer that updates a personal website. This is so a person can keep track of how far they have walked or run, how many calories they have burned, etc. My watch, the Charge does not have a heart-rate monitor, but I am thinking about getting on that does as a reward when I lose another 16 pounds.
When the kids gave me the Fitbit Charge, I immediately started using it. I am one of those kinds of guys who likes to measure every little thing. The watch and website provided me a mechanism that made it much faster, easier and more thorough than anything I had done previously (except when I played judo in college and was insanely meticulous). The cell phone app that goes with the Fitbit uses the GPS to track how fast and far I go when I go for my walks–other people use the same app for bicycling and running.
I did pretty well for a couple of weeks, but then everything got sidetracked when I got a new job in Oregon and we had to move across the country from North Carolina. I just quit using the thing. A little over three weeks ago, Kelly came down for a visit to Oregon from Seattle and let me know she was pretty disappointed that I did not use the watch for a couple of reasons–she and Christian made the effort to get it for me and I was really fat. She is gracious that way. So I decided to start using it again.
This time, I have been at it a little less than a month and it appears to be sticking. When I first started, I intended to walk a little at lunch time and then just manage what I ate to not go over a certain level of caloric intake. The software allows the user to chose how fast they want to lose. I have mine set up to help me target a 750 calorie daily deficit. How this works is that I enter all the food I eat and any special workouts I do into the website. That is amazingly easy because about every food you can imagine is already in the system and 99% of the time all I have to do is pick the food and say how much I ate (ounces, pieces, etc.). They have tons of major restaurant menu items in there, too, so if I go to Wendy’s for a salad, it is just a couple button pushes and that food is recorded.
The first week, I lost some weight, but was hungry all the time. It dawned on me that if I walked a little more, I got to eat a little more, so I started walking more. It started out on the treadmill at our gym, but then I decided it might be a good idea to walk to work. That added quite a lot of calories that I could eat. Then, on Saturday, Lorena and I started walking into town in the morning for breakfast, then again in the afternoon for lunch. It took a little while to calibrate the system because it gave me more credit for burning calories than I deserved–I think because I walked under trees a bunch of the time and the GPS struggled to figure out where I was. Now that I have that worked out a little better, I think the watch is providing a pretty accurate accounting of how many calories are going in versus how many are going out.
As I started losing weight, I started walking a little more. Lorena drives me to work in the morning (we only have one car), but then I walk downtown from work most days to meet her for lunch and walk back to work after lunch. The round trip is three miles. Then, after work, I walk the two miles from work to our apartment. So, now, my baseline walk everyday is five miles. I do additional walking around the building and up and down stairs at work. The Fitbit tracks that, too. The graph below shows the amount of walking I have recorded since I started back using the Fitbit a little less than a month ago. I think the 150 miles is a little bit more than I actually walked, but now that I know better how to use the system I think it will be more accurate for the month of July. I expect I am walking between 30-40 miles per week.
The whole system works for me. I am down over 19 pounds from the end of last year when I started using the Fitbit with four months missing in the middle. I am down a little over 9 pounds since I started back using it again a little over three weeks ago. I actually fell off the wagon two of the weekends since my new start or I would be down even more. The thing that helps me most is that I have a way to “pay” for eating more food. A couple of times, I have actually headed down to the gym to workout for an hour so I could afford enough calories to take Lorena out to dinner.
I have a long way to go. I hope to get down to my goal weight toward the end of the year, but I am already feeling a lot better.
Betty Blonde #360 – 12/02/2009
Click here or on the image to see full size strip.