By LMQC Battle of the Bulge blogger Alan Sivell, St. Ambrose communications professor, RAGBRAI-er, pizza lover and longtime weight watcher.
Used to be that everyone wore a watch. When cell phones rendered that practice obsolete, our wrists went bare … until now. Now, everyone seems to wear a fitness tracker.
At first, trackers were simple black, boring bands – even less fashionable than the “Live Strong” rubber bands. But now they come in all colors with multiple functions and designs.
If you don’t have one, you may be a skeptic. After all, why do you need to go high-tech to count steps?
Well, as the famed public relations and political consultant, Clem Whitaker said, “Americans love a contest.” And with a fitness tracker, you are in your own video game. A real life Super Mario Brother, if your imagination stretches a bit.
St. Ambrose Communication professor, Ann Preston, had begun to lose weight last summer and knew she needed to add some exercise. “But I didn’t want to join a gym,” she said. “It just didn’t interest me.” So she bought a Fitbit for extra motivation.
Preston likes the graphs of her weight loss – she has lost 54 pounds – and physical milestones. “It’s highly motivating to see that visual,” she said. She also gets alerts that she’s earned badges after walking a certain distance. She laughed about earning a Serengeti badge.
“I guess that means I’ve walked far enough to cross the Serengeti,” she said. “Intellectually, I know it’s silly. But it’s still motivating when those notices arrive.”
My wife got me a Jawbone tracker for Christmas last year. It was pure genius on her part. It leveraged my love of stats.
You see, I love baseball and all of its stats. All summer long, I study the stats and after a hot streak in May or June by a favored player, I extrapolate what the numbers might be in October.
But with MLB, I am just an observer. With my tracker, I can control the game and get those numbers higher and higher, if I so choose.
I want to see those numbers peak! So I’ve changed my daily behavior to “earn” more steps. I no longer look for the closest spot in a parking lot. I walk to work. I walk the dog. I do the stepper at the Y. I pace around the car while I’m filling the tank. And just before bed, if I’m shy of my goal, I even walk around the house until I hit it.
It has helped me lose almost 30 pounds!
We get lost in our busy days and often forget how much or how little we move. The trackers keep you mindful of your movements.
Obsessive? Maybe. But after all, “Americans love a contest.” And as an active participant in this contest, you get to use your whole body and get healthy. A win-win.