I love tech and I often think it can cure all my ills, or at least distract me with its awesomeness. As I age, though, I am more and more skeptical about the promises of new gadgets. Also, get off my lawn, you dang kids!
And yet, I had a need to drop my weight down to a healthy level. I was weighing 200lbs back in June and that was too much to carry around. I wanted to drop at least 15lbs to get my gut down so I didn’t have to hold my breath when tying my shoes, to feel better in general and, honestly, to look better for my wife. She loves me for who I am but that doesn’t mean she needs more of me to love.
I had tried dieting with one of those programs back in the Winter and I couldn’t take the artificial taste of it all. It was also opposed to my desire to eat more real food (and yes, chocolate counts as a real food) and organic food. I wasn’t going back to that.
I also knew my key lay in eating better, getting enough sleep and exercising more. I don’t have any conditions that making weight loss hard and I have comfortably weighed 185 before, I just needed self-control.
Enter the Vivofit from Garmin. I bought it about three weeks ago and they say that is how long you need to try something before it becomes as habit. And it has.
Why the Vivofit? Why be a slave to a thing on my wrist?
First, I liked it better than other options simply because it has a clock on it. I’m not a jewelry guy and won’t wear a wrist band just because. This ruled out most Fitbits and those ones by Jawbone.
Second, I really liked that it had a visual reminder to get off my butt. After one hour of inactivity a red bar starts across the top and then adds segments for each 15 minutes I continue to ignore it. All I have to do to clear the bar(s) is get up and walk for maybe a minute and a half, sometimes longer for more segments. I like this better than the Fitbits habit of buzzing because I can look at it and see where I am. I’m a visual kinda guy.
It of course comes with an app for my phone as well as a USB stick that lets me sync with my computer and the web (from which my app pulls info). Yay! Syncy Magic (R).
Then I decided to couple it with the myfitnesspal (he’s not my pal, he’s more of a helper) app that tracks food ingested. I put in my goal (lose a pound a week) and that app syncs with the other app. Yay! I’ve used a calorie tracker app in the past but I like this one the best as it has a wide array of foods and is fairly easy to use. And it has Syncy Magic (R).
Lastly I piled on a workout tracker called MapMyFitness. These apps are all so cool they don’t need spaces in their names. MapMyFitness allowed me to better track workouts, like going for a run or bike ride or even doing sit-ups (it has a huge library of activities, even SCUBA diving) and it had Syncy Magic (R) as well so all three work well together. They all adjust off each other so there is no duplication of effort and you can’t cheat.
So WHY am I a slave to wearing this device and tracking my food eats? Why don’t I just inheriently have the self control to not eat and then go exercise every day?
I took that question in my head and turned it around slightly. I’m not a slave to the Vivofit, I’m a slave to me and the Vivofit just helps me get there.
The device increases the number of steps I need to take in a day to keep me active and burning calories. Even better, it has trained me to get off my butt. Studies have shown that sitting all day shortens your lifespan (and certainly makes it less healthy along the way) but I get into a groove on the computer and ignore getting up.
(At which point in my writing I looked down, saw the big bar and didn’t even realize it had been an hour since I sat at the computer. Got up, walked just a bit.)
It also pushes me a little and has me parking further away from stores and even walking to the bank with the dog the past two days. These are things I knew would help before I got the Vivofit, but I’m an analytical guy and this helps me quantify ‘doing more’. When I see there are only 1000 steps left before my goal and it is 7pm at night, a time I might spend relaxing around the house, I’m more likely to get up and go for a short walk or hit the treadmill if there are a lot more steps to go.
For me, it’s like a ribbon on my finger reminding me of something. That I want to be more healthy and feel better just moving around this planet.
I’m down to 192.5 lbs as of today and my gut is noticeably slimmer (when I started using it I was 195). I’m also more fit and do more with my body, which is my main goal; to be more fit and enjoy life.
There have been some ancillary benefits as well. MapMyFitness has renewed my interest in biking and all I need is a handlebar mount for my phone. It also has these ‘Challenges’ and I thought they would be dorky. Surely I don’t need to compete against others to keep myself going (I grew out of that in my 20s). And yet… one popped on Monday in regard to walking your dog, as I had logged such an activity that day. It’s a month long challenge and in the end Purina donates a bunch of dog food to rescue shelter while obtaining my email address for their marketing (which, thanks to our government, has to include an unsubscribe button). And it worked; it has me thinking each day about getting Theo out for a good walk when I was slacking on that before.
Yes, I can do all these things without the Vivofit and the apps on my phone.
And yet, here it is, three weeks later and I’m still using it when normally I would have lost interest if it had sucked. I’ve lost 2.5 lbs since starting and I’m still able to eat as much chocolate as I want. I fit into my pants better and had to add a hole to my belt.
The Vivofit and apps have worked well for me and I see how the habits they create are sustainable for the years and decades ahead.
Addendum: Besides the watch feature (and date too!) the biggest reason I went with the Vivofit over the Fitbit and others is because the battery lasts a year, like a normal watch. I don’t have one more item I need to remember to charge each day and it’s not going to die on me in the middle of my day.