I know you are not going to believe this unless you know me well. There are days that I don’t take more than a 1,000 steps. That means all I have done for the day is go to work, sit all day ,come home again and sit all night. Some weekends I do even less. I sit on the couch all day, read, watch TV, talk on the phone and do some computer work. That amounts to a few hundred steps, going to the bathroom and getting up every hour for a snack.
All that ended a few weeks ago when my doctor told me my sugar levels were up. He said he was “concerned.” If I didn’t knock down the count he was going to have to put me on meds. All of a sudden my entire life flashed in front of me. I had never taken exercise seriously. All that was for people who were vain. It finally occurred to me that there was a cause and effect in my sugar count. If I sat, the number would go up. If I walked the required number of steps a day (10,000 according to most exercise gurus), then my sugars levels would be normal. My physician, Dr. St Claire at Yaffee Rudin Associates, said exercise was far more important than what I was eating. That was the first time I heard that. I confirmed this with a friend of mine, Dr. Howard Stark, a well known gastroenterologist, in Washington D.C., who also informed me that 10,000 steps was necessary for cardiovascular health. If I wanted to lose weight, I should do 12,500 steps. That is the magic number to get rid of those extra pounds.
While all this seems like a simple solution, walking 10,000 or 12,500 footsteps a day is no easy task. In order to accomplish this, you need someone like a life coach reminding you constantly to get up and walk. I was telling my friend Steve Greenberg, the host of The Food Network’s new show, Invention Hunters, (you read about him in a prior post) about my dilemma. I’ve had a lot of pedometers and threw them all out because they were difficult to set and reset. I spent more time trying to reconfigure the pedometer than I did walking.
Steve surprised me with the Fitbit. It is not a pedometer. It is a device that could have only been developed in the digital world. Unlike all of its pedometer predecessors, the Fitbit is a wireless unit that is synched to the Fitbit website, www.fitbit.com and measures your motion patterns to tell you the calories you’ve burned, steps taken, distance traveled, and sleep quality. The Fitbit uses a MEMS 3-axis accelerometer and a built-in MEMS altimeter that measures your vertical climb up stairs and hills.
What I really like is the automation. I don’t have to do a thing other than walk. The digital unit automatically restarts at midnight. Initially, you are required to register on the Fitbit website which asks some very basic questions. All you have to do after that, is remember to charge the Fitbit by attaching its USB connection to your computer every two weeks. When I get more ambitious, I will use the website to log my food, activity, weight and chat with other users, achieving the full digital experience. Now, when I want to see my results, I press the small lever on the outside of the Fitbit and I get a digital readout of steps taken, miles walked (or partial miles), calories burned, and steps climbed. The Fitbit can easily clip to slacks or can used with a wrist cuff.
Since I’ve been using the Fitbit I’ve been pressing that lever several times a day just to see if it is still working. As much as I am a part of the digital community, I still can’t believe that there is a (wireless) device that is such a miracle worker. I guess that is why I started this blog in the first place. We live in a world where there are so many advantages. If we had the opportunity to tell our parents and grandparents that we are living in a world where such automation and memory is the norm, they would shake their heads in astonishment.
Now that I am a big shot, armed with my little digital friend attached to me, I have to get off my butt and start walking. Maybe, someday there will be a machine that can do that for me as well. All I have to do is stay healthy enough to see it happen. Because it will!