Quantifying My Days with Fitbit

Back in February, I was on a trip to San Francisco. While I was there, I took a trip through the Apple Store down near Union Square and noticed that they were carrying Fitbits. I had heard a lot about these from my good friends Kati and Mike, so I decided to pick one up for myself. "Nothing too fancy," I thought. Just the most basic model, a Fitbit Zip. All it tracks is footsteps. Not sleep or stairs or anything else crazy, just how far I've walked in a single day. And I've been amazed at how much I've enjoyed having this little thing.

I'll admit, my stats over the past few months aren't anything to write home about. I'm still a pretty lazy dude when it comes to getting off my butt and getting my steps in, but it's nice to have a quantifiable way of seeing what I have (or haven't) been doing.

I think the best case in point is something that clicked with me today. I started a new job at the start of May. I went from a giant government campus with an equally large building to a much more compact office space. In addition, I went from being a consultant and running all over the place for meetings to being a writer. While I love the new job, it's not the most active of places to be. I was curious whether I actually wasn't walking as far or not. And you know what? It took about ten seconds to find out that answer.

Here's my stats from back in March:

Here's April:

And May, where I started my new job:

Dang. Down almost 1500 steps average a day? That's just sad. But the beauty of having all that info in my pocket is that I immediately could start figuring out ways to make a change. I smoked years ago, but I'm re-implementing smoke breaks into my day. Not actually smoking, of course. I don't even trust myself with a hookah anymore. But taking breaks out of my day to go outside. One trip around the parking lot takes me about 5 minutes, and gives me about 6-800 steps. A few of those a day will put me up and over my goal no sweat (well, at least until it gets a little hotter during the day).

Now, I'd love to upgrade my Fitbit, probably to the One for sleep tracking and staircase tracking, but even with just the Zip, I've really enjoyed having that data available to me. It allowed me to easily see what had changed, and now I can take steps (hehe) to actually make those changes.