I got a FitBit for Father’s Day, so I am hoping to get a bit fit.
For the six of you who have not heard of this electronic geegaw, it is the latest example of better living through technology.
It straps to your wrist, and like a watch, it will display the time, but it also tracks your heart rate, number of steps you take, stairs you climb, calories burned and miles walked.
My younger son was so in love with his FitBit and I was equally impressed, so I asked for one for Father’s Day.
What I have found so far is that as a middle-aged guy, it is yet another way for me to discover how I don’t measure up.
Fitness experts recommend you walk at least 10,000 steps a day. If I break about 6,000, that is a good day.
As someone who spends four-plus hours in the car five days a week, getting to that goal would be a challenge, unless of course I drove a Fred Flintstone-type car where you pedal furiously with your feet to get started.
But I am finding that I am making adjustments in light of the FitBit. For instance, today I walked an extra block out of my way just so I could rack up extra steps toward my total.
I also make it a point to take the stairs instead of an escalator when I have the option. With its attractive graphics, FitBit gives me encouragement for climbing more flights of stairs.
The one feature I am fascinated with — and at the same time a bit creeped out by — is the one that tells me how much I have slept.
FitBit is like Santa Claus that way: It knows when you are sleeping. If it starts telling me whether I have been naughty or nice, it’s coming off my wrist.
I have also been using an app called MyFitnessPal in which you track what you are eating, total calories consumed and your exercise.
You set a weight loss goal and it gives you an ideal daily caloric intake based on your height, weight and time you have set to lose the weight.
You enter your food and it keeps diligent track of your progress.
This too has been unnerving and eye-opening.
You mean my medium hot Dunkin’ Donuts coffee with milk and sugar is 112 calories?
Out goes the sugar. Milk only from now on with my coffee. A net savings of 77 calories. I feel thinner already.
What I have discovered is that calories are a lot like time and money: Once you have consumed them, there is no getting them back so it is important to be judicious
FitBit and MyFitnessPal are merely tools to help keep me on track toward a healthy, balanced me. Of course, they are no substitute for sensible eating, exercise and a good night’s sleep.
But if FitBit wanted to be really helpful, it could give me a low dose of electric current, like a cattle prod, every time I reach for a cookie.