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My adventures with my FitBit: the musings of a sloth

Monday, February 25, 2013

I had no real idea how many calories I burned during my Israeli dance sessions, and I was afraid I was overestimating. I’d tried wearing my Polar HR monitor, but thought that was overstating things. Losing weight is always a real struggle for me, so I thought it would be a good idea to get a real sense of the calories I might be burning. So when Spark partnered with Fitbit, I decided to go for the basic model.

I run three times a week, and I teach dance for 3 ½ hours, so you would think I get a fair amount of calorie burn. But I’m a sloth: I can sit in my office working and move so little that the light goes off. I then have to wave my hand vigorously to get the light to switch back on. Sad, isn’t it? I have a several kids with ADD. Clearly they didn’t get it from their mother.

So, my first few days with the Fitbit were very disheartening. Not only do I not reach anywhere near the recommended 10,000 steps a day, but a typical workday with no running or dancing might net me all of 4,000 steps! And that's if I use the parking garage stairs instead of the elevator.

The second disheartening bit of information is that on a typical day, I don’t burn much more than 1,100 calories. So if my eating range is 1,200 to 1,550, what am I to do?

I struggled with this, tried to cut back on the calories to stay below my ‘burn’, only to pack on a quick five pounds. Other physical problems compounded this so I’m finding myself with an extra 10 pounds over my highest ‘comfortable’ weight.

Back to the drawing board. I was tempted to throw away the Fitbit, but the truth is that wearing it reminds me to take those extra steps. And so for that reason alone, it’s worth having. But I’m not looking at the calories expended most days. I did confirm how many calories I burn during a typical dance evening, and the Fitbit and Polar HR monitor seem to be pretty much in sync.

I’m going to forget what it says about total daily calories expended and stick to 1,200-1,550 on a consistent basis. The Fitbit is there to help keep the lights on in my office, and that’s all!

Edit: to be clear, there is nothing wrong with the numbers when I run or dance. The calorie burn is what I would expect for someone my size. It's on non-cardio days that I apparently don't move. My base metabolic rate is that of a slug.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    emoticon a sloth does not run marathons!!

    You can do it. Sometimes a wake up call is what we need...my February was a wake up call...sigh
    1848 days ago
  • TIGGER622
    Girl you are too funny!!! For someone as active as you to describe herself as a sloth!!! LOL! I know how hard it is for me to lose weight, I can't imagine how difficult it would be for someone as tiny as you! At this point, you know what works for you and if its the 12-1500 range, do it!!! You can do this Dee, keep it up!!!
    1849 days ago
  • BRUCE31511
    I am so glad that my office light stays on all the time. I have a fitbit to remind me to get up and move. I only wish my building had stairs to walk up. The only stairs in my life are the ones in my house. Hope you enjoy your fitbit.
    1850 days ago
    I got the fitbit for the same reason you did, because I was concerned about my sit-down time being too long in a day, especially when it isn't a running day. And I don't have the working in the office constraint like you do, but still seem to have too much sedentary time. They say sedentary time is the new smoking, really seriously not good for you. I track my very active - fairly active - lightly active - sedentary time and I am working on decreasing the sedentary time.
    Also, I think the calories burned is the movement burn and is in addition to what your basal metabolism burns so you are totally burning more calories in a day when you add the two together.
    I have noticed that the day after my long run are really low activity days, I want to make a concious effort to do some outside walking on those days
    I love my fitbit, I especially love when it tells me after a hike that I have climbed 100+ stairs, the numbers can really encourage and shape my exercise.
    1850 days ago

    Comment edited on: 2/26/2013 10:56:10 AM
    Hang in there...

    wendy emoticon
    1850 days ago
  • MAGGIE101857
    I try to remind myself that they are not perfect gadgets. I use the Bodymedia Fit armband (like on the Biggest Loser). I can ride my bike for 10 miles while wearing a HRM, and the numbers will not match. Like you, my office/desk job is a killer, literally. We joke that we are going to die at our desks, but the truth is, the higher ups needs to start taking a look at how little they "allow" people to move during the day and the health risks.

    Sloth - hardly, but I say the same thing to myself on days when I don't fit in the planned exercise!! Perhaps more of a emoticon pace!
    1850 days ago
  • MIRAGE727
    I have to remind myself that if I increase my daily caloric intake, I must remember to fuel clean with good calories. I've had healthy 600 calorie breakfast bowls, protein loaded lunches and dinners, and pressed 1800 calories. They've kept me maintained when I am insuring daily exercise whether it's running or strength training. No matter what, I'm still working a delicate balance and always tweaking my nutrition. I've accepted it as a game!
    1850 days ago
    I hear you sister. I had the same experience when I started using my WW Activelink - which is pretty much the same thing. And it said I was a slug too. I had no idea how idle I was when not actively at the gym. But wearing that thing does motivate me to get up off it - because I hate not reaching my daily goal.
    1850 days ago
    Dee you are definitely funny! You are definitely NOT a sloth.

    I have thought about getting a fitbit, but know that I sit for much of the day - when not exercising. Also, I do not need many calories either. My range is very close to yours.
    1850 days ago
    I just bought a FitBit One for both my wife and myself. My wife has somewhat the same problem you have. She sits down in her office in the morning and hardly gets up all day.
    I'm a little more active than that, but not much.
    I decided not to wear my FitBit when I exercise. I'm active enough during that part of my day. I noticed I move less during the rest of my day than I did say 4 or 5 years ago. This week I'm tracking to find my base of not exercise steps. Starting next week I'll try to increase those number of steps each week.
    I can relate to needing to move more through out the day and I think the FitBit will be the instrument that will help me do just that.
    1850 days ago
    I really feel for you but your blog was actually amusing. I have thought about getting a Fitbit too and now am afraid of it. LOL.
    1850 days ago
    I used to work in a lab where the light would go off on me because I was standing at the counter pipetting all day....But I'd have to jump up and down for it to see me...at least your light sensor is aimed a little lower ;-)
    Hopefully, it will get you up and out of your chair more often at work to get those 10,000 steps....it does for me.
    1850 days ago
    You are absolutely NOT a sloth ... and finding that perfect balance is hard. I know I struggle with it every day.
    1850 days ago
    Dee you have to do what is making you happy. Life it too short to worry about the rest. Look at trends rather than the immediate. If you weight is slowly coming off, then that is a good sign. I also need to eat the minimum calories and I achieve that most days by eating lots of vegs. If I eat the recommended caloires I will be rolling in no time at all.
    1850 days ago
    Ha ha! You did make me laugh about the lights in your office!
    1850 days ago
  • JLITT62
    I can be a real slug too & I don't have the excuse of working in an office. But between walking the dogs & exercise, back when I wore a pedometer, I rarely had trouble getting in my 10,000. It IS harder when you're office-bound.

    I've never worried that much about how much I burn - if I'm moving in the general direction I want to go I figure I'm doing ok. I do think too many get hung up by the numbers.
    1850 days ago
    always i8nterested in the fitbit, want to learn everything about it, before I commit myself, I try to stay around 1200 calories a day, and never ever can I lose weight, makes me crazy,
    1850 days ago
    Sounds like perhaps your problem isn't the amount but the intensity of your workouts.

    1850 days ago
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