So part of the plan is to increase my activity levels. For me, no new plan is complete without the purchase of at least one shiny, new gadget. In this case, the gadget is the Fitbit (see picture). The Fitbit is a very posh pedometer. It counts your steps (duh!), but does quite a bit more: see the website for more info - Fitbit. It has a built in accelerometer, which is similar to the Wii remote, in that in can detect movement. As well as counting steps, it also counts the number of flights of stairs you climb and monitors your sleep (worn in a wrist band overnight). It has a little base station that is connected to a computer. You clip the device to the base station for charging, but it also acts as a syncing device either when the device is attached or, through wireless technology, when you are within 15 feet of your computer. Data syncs to a website giving you a record of the number of steps and flights of stairs you have climbed, how active you have been and details of how long you slept for and how many times you woke up. You can also log other information, such as additional activities (gym, cycling, swimming, etc), weights and measurements, and you can also keep a log of the food you eat if you wish (I don't wish!).
Unlike previous pedometers that I have tried, this one is easier to remember to wear all the time, and less likely to (a) be seen and (b) fall off. This is because the suggested place to wear it for a woman is clipped to your bra. Pretty handy, but I have to resist the urge to keep checking my daily step total when I'm out and about because you get some pretty strange looks fumbling down your top to try and press the button to see the results!
I'm now on the third week of wearing the Fitbit, and I have to say it has changed my behaviour. I left my daily targets at the suggested 10,000 steps and 10 floors and started wearing the Fitbit (or FB) the day after it arrived. Before I started to wear the FB, I would have said that the days I would find hardest to hit my 10k would be work days, as I have to sit at a desk for the best part of 8 hours a day staring at a computer and tapping away on a keyboard. However, I was quite shocked to realise just how little I move around when I am NOT at work. My first day wearing the FB was a Friday - the one week-day I don't work. I didn't really pay much attention to how many steps I was doing during the day, so I was horrified at the end of the day when I realised I had only clocked up just over 5k. Over the week-end I fared a little better, but still didn't manage to clock up the magic 10k, nor did I even manage the 10 flights of stairs.
I decided I had better actually try and DO something to get the total steps closer to the target, so I started looking for more walking opportunities to fit in to my day. Flights of stairs were easy on work days as I work on the 3rd floor, but the 2nd and 3rd flights of stairs are in 2 blocks, so each time I go from the ground to my floor I clock up 5 floors! I have completely stopped using the lift, and now climb the stairs quite a few times each day - there is a café area on the ground floor with very posh coffee machines, so I get my coffees from there, meaning extra steps and floors each time I go for a coffee. I have always gone out for a walk at lunchtimes, as I have to get away from my desk (and some of my colleagues...). My usual walk is up to the shopping centre, around the centre and back, so I was pleased to discover that this clocked up around 4500 steps - almost half my daily target! By the time I had walked around the office a few times with trips to the coffee machine, the toilet and to speak to people in the building (I am allowed to do that sometimes...), my total by the time I left work was usually around 7k. Some days I go to the gym at lunchtime instead of a walk, and that usually takes my total to around 8-9k, depending on how long I spend on the treadmill. Shortly after getting home, I have to go and pick up my son from the bus stop - a round trip in the car of about 3 miles. However, there is a lovely walk across the village green and over the canal which is under half a mile, so, unless it is pouring with rain, I walk over. My son complains bitterly about having to walk back, especially when he has his very large and heavy sports bag (although I always end up carrying it!), however that trip clocks up another 2k, so gets me pretty well on or over my target (with the general walking around at home whilst I am cooking, etc).
So far so good! The week-ends don't offer so many opportunities for walking with a purpose. Since we have been dogless, I no longer simply go for a walk. I don't mind walking when there is somewhere to go and I don't need to carry anything heavy, such as a load of shopping, however I have a strange reluctance to just open the front door and walk around the block with nowhere to go and no doggy companion. Much as I would love to have another dog, it is a drastic and impractical solution - I will just have to get out and do it! Maybe I could imagine I have a dog with me that is running on ahead... some real benefits as I won't have to follow behind with my plastic bags and gloves, or have to hose down a stinky wet doggie when I get back!! Might be a bit embarrassing when I start to call for the invisible dog, or throw sticks for him tho'...