Monday, 15 June 2015

Writing to a standstill

You know how it is. You're in the zone, hunched over the keyboard, on a roll, writing away for all you're worth and when you look up hours have passed and you haven't moved from your desk. Great, from a production point of view. Not so great from a health & fitness point of view.

Some while ago, a fellow writer posted on Facebook that they'd bought themselves a Fitbit® in an effort to ensure they moved more often. Not having ever heard of Fitbit® but uncomfortably conscious of my inactivity when in writing mode (not to mention the gentle but inexorable weight gain) I decided this was something I had to find out more about.

When I read about the system, I added a Fitbit® "Zip" to my birthday list and now my little lime-green friend (other colours are available...) goes everywhere with me.

My lime-green friend - showing his tongue
sticking out, because I've been inactive for too long!

As well as being a pedometer - monitoring my step-count and distance walked - it also logs how many calories I've burned, as well as any 'active minutes' I do, such as going for a brisk walk.

When I sync the device to the app on my laptop, the data is recorded on to my 'dashboard' where I can also log my food intake, any other activities (anything from gardening to Pilates) and keep a track of my overall progress.

You can set goals for yourself, including losing weight, when it will automatically re-calculate your daily calorie allowance accordingly, and when you reach your goals it congratulates you and sends you badges! (I'm easily pleased!)

I would like to emphasise at this point, that I don't have shares in the company...

Dashboard showing my mega-steps day!

The set-up works on a weekly rotation so your daily steps contribute to your week's goal of 70,000 (see reference below to 10,000 steps per day). Please indulge me, if I share with you my achievement of last Monday when I clocked up a mammoth 28,685 steps walking part of the South West coast path in Cornwall, which, as you can see from the photograph below, is pretty challenging!

A section of the challenging SW coast path,
Lansallos to Polperro, Cornwall.

My only gripe with the system is that I have to sync my tracker with a laptop computer or PC as Wi-Fi compatibility is limited. Or, to put it another way, my phone isn't sophisticated enough and my iPad too old! (Later iPad versions and other mobile phones do have the appropriate connectivity.) This means when I'm away I can't upload my efforts until I get home. Fortunately the Zip stores up to 7 days worth of data.

Now, here's the significant bit from a writer's perspective. A few years ago there was a buzz in the press about the British Heart Foundation's recommendation that we should all do 10,000 steps every day for a healthy heart (click here to read the BBC article). So it's sobering to discover, that if I get stuck in to a writing task at my laptop, it can get to half way through the day and I might only have managed 300 steps!

I'm amazed at how motivating it's been to have my Zip - it really does prompt me to getting up off my backside and GET ACTIVE! 

... which is fine as long as I don't get so motivated to move, I forget to allocate enough time for writing!


  1. Oh, what a nifty little gadget, Wendy. Your comment about the badges made me, as a former teacher, remember the power of the sticker! We all love those little rewards. A footstep counter sounds like a must-have for a writer. You're quite right - it's so easy for us to spend too much time at our desks. Keep on walking!

    1. Seems we're all happy to be given a sticker, Susanna! Even this former teacher who gave them out just like you did!
      Hubby read an article the other day saying the 10,000 steps was just chosen as a rounded-up number, that 8,000 was sufficient. Now they tell me! Mind you, even that can be a challenge some days. Thanks for dropping by!

  2. Oh this is amazing! I had heard of a Fitbit but had no idea of all the things it could do - definitely something for my suggestion list come Christmas... though maybe with all the writing I am doing it should be something I get sooner rather than later #inexorableweightgain ;-)

    1. Yes, that is the problem we writers have, isn't it? I've adjusted my daily target down to 8,000 since I read that article that they'd rounded it up to 10 for the hell of it, but it's still a credible amount. I've found a good way to clock up my quota is by doing circuits of the house when I'm on the phone, which is very useful!