Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Fitbit and the power of competition

The university has a deal on Fitbits — a pedometer — for employees. You buy it at a discounted rate, and once you reach 1 million steps, they refund your money. A couple of my coworkers got them and decide to start a newsroom competition.

I was curious about how many steps I take and needed some motivation to get back to the gym now that the wedding is over. So I decided to get a Fitbit and join the competition.

Here's something you should know about me. I played competitive soccer until I was 15. Yes, my dad (also my coach for many years) always said all that mattered was having fun, but I was competitive and liked to win. Pretty much any physical activity, I could make competitive. I always wanted to be the leader on hikes or family walks. I can get into board games and such, but I never got that competitive with them (mostly because I'm not that great at them). But physical activity was always a competition.

It has been a long time since I've been in a true physical competition, but it all came back to me when I started this competition. The Fitbit app lets you see where your friends are, and you can see weekly rankings. 

And it changed my habits. I was going back to the gym and finding excuses to walk across campus or downtown. When I don't go out for lunch, I walk the quad. I park farther away when I am out running errands. I stop at the trail on my way home from work on cooler days. 

We also got a bike for J, and biking has become our new hobby. We live near a biking/walking trail that goes across the state. We've been biking various sections of it, increasing our mileage. (I get to wear the Fitbit while biking. I only got six miles of steps for riding 24 miles on Saturday.)  So that's my other activity to gain steps, and it's something we can do together (well, kind of, J rides much faster and challenges himself to ride farther than me and catch up).

I'm only a month in to the competition, but I have to say it's been good for both of us. Some really nice weather has helped us as well. Just need to keep up the momentum.

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