If you have read my previous fitness posts (linked below) or follow my IG stories, being active is a very important part of my life. My love of exercise actually began in medical school over a decade ago. It was an outlet for me which helped my mood and gave me a way to manage stress. The grueling schedule of residency negatively impacted my regular exercise schedule (or in retrospect, I just did not make it enough of a priority at that time). It took me several more years and having my first child to catapult me back into an active lifestyle. It is truly an integral part of my life, and the way I keep myself accountable is tracking my activity every day.
I initially started out with a FitBit which really helped me work towards that 10k steps a day goal. It made me notice how little I was moving my body on a regular basis, and this in my opinion was the most important lesson learned from wearing a fitness tracker. They say sitting is the new smoking, and boy did my tracker reveal to me just how much time I spent sitting/idle! Due to some technical issues with the FitBit (I ended up having them send me a new one), as well as wanting a device that seamlessly worked with my apple products, I ended up switching to the Apple Watch. I absolutely love it for fitness tracking!
The three main numbers my watch tracks during a 24-hour period are 1) active calories burned, 2) active minutes (exercise), and 3) hours standing. I don’t consider the active calories burned number to be accurate. In fact, studies reveal that there is wide variation in the accuracy of calorie trackers. However, what I have noticed is that my calorie burned number remains consistent on days I don’t exercise versus days I do exercise. For instance, on rest days, I typically “burn” in the 300-400 active calorie range (this is aside from basal metabolic rate, or BMR). On good days, I will hit my 500 calories goal on rest days. I credit walking a TON at work on such days. On days I do exercise, I definitely hit at least 500 active calories. I rarely hit 1000 calories burned, but when I do, I feel extra accomplished!
The purpose of tracking “calories burned” for me has nothing to do with how much I eat. I try to eat intuitively, meaning I eat when I am hungry. I stopped counting calories eaten years ago because it was ineffective for me and made me crazy. This is not to say it doesn’t work for other people, but it just isn’t right for me. Again, tracking my “calories burned” number simply serves as a benchmark for my daily activity. I don’t feel bad if I don’t hit my goal on rest days because that’s what rest days are for!
The other two numbers, minutes of active exercise (which I have set to 30 minutes) and 12 hours standing (this means standing for a minimum of one minute every hour for 12 hours — not difficult!) are much more straightforward. It makes me feel better about my day and my health when I can at least hit these two goals if not my calories burned goal.
Unlike the FitBit, the Apple Watch does not track sleep. However, as a parent, I think tracking my sleep would just send me into a deep dark depression LOL! So I don’t really care about that aspect of it.
A few other features I love are that I can follow my weekly and monthly progress on the Activity app on my iPhone, I get little “awards” for different milestones or achievements, and I can compete with friends during 7-day challenges. These make it extra fun and rewarding to work out!
I truly love the increasing focus on moving our bodies and getting regular exercise. For me, it is my form of therapy. It also has the added benefits for physical health and well-being. It makes me feel stronger. It makes me keep striving to do and be better in multiple aspects of my life. I hope to continue a fit and active lifestyle for decades to come!
I’d love to hear if you use a fitness tracker, and if so, what do you like/dislike about it?
Also, here are my prior fitness posts, if you’re interested!