Happy 2013, everybody! OK, fine. I know what year it really is, but it turns out that for me, it’s also the year of the Fitbit. That’s right. My plan to pay for my health paid off. For 28 days in a row, I met my step goal. Put it another way, I recorded over 280,000 steps last month. Here’s what I learned:
Streak and Habit Aren’t Synonyms
I have read the
research Pinterest quotes that suggests habits can be formed in as little as 21 days. I’m not convinced. It’s true that I’m on this pretty fantastic streak. Still, I would be leery of declaring that I have actually developed a habit of clocking 10,000 steps per day. In fact, I still have to make a pretty concerted effort to dismiss the excuses and reasons as to why I might be justified in giving myself a free pass. Because I am good at excuses. (Like that one time when I only slept for three hours the night before and had to write two freelance pieces, a grad paper, and a blog post, so wouldn’t it be OK if I moved 10 steps instead of 10,000 just that once.) Do I make the same kind of excuses when it comes to things like showering or brushing my teeth? Of course not. I won’t fully consider this a habit until I treat these steps the same way I treat other non-negotiables.
It’s True About Tracking
The widely-held wisdom in the personal finance world is that if something isn’t being measured, it can’t be improved upon. Prior to wearing a Fitbit, I used my iPhone to guesstimate my steps. The problem was that I don’t carry my phone on me when I work (or many other times). While I knew I was fairly active, now that I am able to track my steps with such ease, I realize that I was getting closer to 7,000 steps a day without those numbers blinking back at me whenever I raise my arm. And if you think a few thousands steps isn’t that big of a deal, I can most assure that you it is. This leads me to believe that no matter how much I don’t see a need for tracking my net worth, maybe I should. If nothing else, this streak underscores just how essential it is to continue tracking our spending.
There’s an Even Better Motivator
Tracking continues to motivate me to press on for my steps even when I feel like I just can’t step anymore. But the real kick in the pants comes from something else. By blogging about this streak indirectly, my Fitbit was on my mind every day. Then, when two of my coworkers added me to the Fitbit community, things really got interesting. This was partially because I don’t really understand how the community works and partially because I am gullible. So when one coworker texted me saying that he knew I needed to get more steps that day, I took him seriously…and got to stepping. Even though I know now he was just pulling my chain, the fact that we remain connected through the app and see each other wearing our Fitbits every day compels me to take an extra lap or six through the halls during passing period. To make a long story short: get an accountability partner, especially if you can find one who makes you laugh.
You Don’t Have to Do Everything
I was a perfectionist. That’s a lie. I am perfectionist. One of the first things I realized with my Fitbit, though, was that it isn’t productive—and it may not even be possible—to master every aspect of numbers right away. The first few days I wore it, I wanted to exceed every metric it calculated, not just steps. The first to go was sleep (hello, infant who LOLs at sleep training). After logging three hours of sleep one night, I spent the next day walking up and down the stairs with the intention of making sure that I met the stair goal right away. On my sixth trip up and down the stairs with the app dashboard open on my phone, I stared at the screen and realized there were so many other pieces that I didn’t even understand (weekly exercise) or care about (calories). So I put it away. Instead, I reaffirmed a single commitment: to hit my step goal every day. I found something that would challenge me, but by forcing myself to prioritize and single task, I also found something that I could be successful with.
It Was Worth Every Penny
I was not keen on spending money on a Fitbit. I’m not keen on spending money on most things. But looking back at the month, I can easily say that the Fitbit was worth it. Not only did it help me start to slowly prioritize my health again, but it made me realize how many of these lessons can easily extend to other aspects of my life, like my finances and friendships.
So Tell Me…Have you ever gone on a streak? How do you build new habits? Where do you fall on the spectrum of investing in your health?
I’ve been wearing a Fitbit for years . It is very motivating. Funny thing though…you ever feel like your steps don’t count if they were not recorded?
Mrs. Adventure Rich
If I REALLY want to start doing something or changing a behavior, I find a challenge or streak is one of the best ways to do so! I have tried it for limiting eating out, eating healthy, exercise, getting up early, and probably a few others I don’t remember.
Erin | Reaching for FI
Walking practically everywhere means on a normal day when I go to work and then somewhere else (barre, the grocery store, or somewhere that requires a metro ride) after, I get 10,000 steps no problem. It’s the days where I only go to work and then don’t leave my apartment after that mean I don’t hit my step goal. Those don’t usually happen too often, so I ignore my Fitbit yelling at me and just accept the fact that I’m not going to hit 10k for the day.
But there were entirely too many of those in February as a busier-than-expected month plus a vacation meant I fell out of my routine and cancelled barre more often than not. I think I’ll go for a streak in March to help me get back on track, instead of being too lazy to get the additional 2-4k I need on slow days.
Gary @ Super Saving Tips
There are two kinds of investments in your health: preventative and corrective. If you don’t invest enough in the first kind, you will most assuredly be investing a lot in the second as I am. So keep up the good work with the Fitbit!
I did a Body for Life challenge 15 years ago or so and it was amazing. I lost 50 pounds and went from not being able to walk around the block without a rest, to running around the block easily. I did 90 straight days and felt better than at any point since my teens. Then, I just stopped. Winter came, running outside was hard, and little by little I lost all the gains. It’s funny how when I look back at my life it is a series of peaks reached through effort, and troughs formed by loss of focus. I only hope I end on a high note. 🙂
Mrs. Picky Pincher
Congrats on your streak! That’s no small feat to fit in all of your steps each day. 🙂
This is so timely because I ordered myself a Bellabeat Leaf health tracker for my birthday – and it’s coming in today! I’m committed to getting more healthy, but it’s hard to stay accountable without tracking it. I could manually track it, but with the eleventy-bajillion other things in my life, that’s just not happening. I love the idea of automatic tracking.
I tried a Fitbit and didn’t like it, solely because I don’t like things on my wrist. I got the Bellabeat and hope it’ll work out. You can do it as a clip, necklace, or bracelet. It tracks sleep, stress, cycles, and exercise (and maybe food intake? I’ll have to check).
But yes, the point is that we need to measure progress on our goals to see if, y’know, we’re actually getting anywhere. 🙂
I had a 630 day Duolingo streak until a vacation distracted me enough to miss a day. I started a new streak the next day, but it didn’t have the power of the first one. I eventually gave up that second streak as well and haven’t touched the app in 2018. So sad. Great post, Penny. I’m curious, though, have you ever calculated how many steps it takes to walk a mile? Mrs. Groovy and I walk 3 miles every day and I wonder how close that is to 10,000. Cheers.
One data point – for me, 10,000 steps is roughly 4.5 miles. YMMV (I’m pretty short)
Mystery Money Man
I am feeling somewhat convicted reading this, Penny. I have been far too inactive this winter. I’ve made lots of excuses too, none valid. You have me motivated! : )
Accountability matters so much! That’s why I like to share my runs on facebook when I am in the habit. Folks get so supportive and invite me to run with them.