The Leader Living This Month’s Routine: Always Wear an Activity Monitor

The idea of someone or something watching, always watching, can be ominous, creepy, or threatening. If you’re an 80s music fan, you’re familiar with Rockwell’s song “Somebody’s Watching Me” and the classic from The Police, “Every Breath You Take.” Surveillance videos, GPS tracking, cookies on Web pages all smack of infringement into privacy reminiscent of Orwell‘s worlds and other dystopias.

“Okay, so an activity monitor, not so much like those things. But why use yet another gadget. I mean, really? I work out. I am pretty active. I bike to work, even.”

That was me, for more than three decades of my life. I didn’t see the point of fancy sports toys. I wasn’t an athlete, but I moved and even sweated. So why bother with anything to measure it?

Well, I started using an old Garmin Forerunner in 2005 when Roy, my partner/sig. other/boyfriend, got an upgrade. It measured my speed, distance, and calories burned for my runs and bike rides. It uploaded the information to my computer, where I could see it. That was pretty nifty, because I could keep track of my progress, log my active time for the workouts, and get an idea of how many calories I burned while working out. That sufficed for me.

I thought a pedometer would be more for someone who wasn’t a cyclist, or was just a walker, because my time on the bike and running was worth more than walking. I saw colleagues and friends with pedometers and other monitors and thought I didn’t need one. But then I decided to get a Weight Watchers pedometer when I became a leader, just to see how to use it.

I set it up and started using it while I was “exercising:” running, cycling, walking the dog. Then I decided I’d try it all day. Whoa. My total for all day was hardly more than my total for my workouts, because when I was done sweating, I also was done moving. Also, even if I walked more than 2 miles every morning, I wouldn’t start earning PPVs until later in the day! I read up on the baseline activity concept: There’s a certain amount of activity that we assume every person does daily, and we don’t start earning PPV to swap for food until we reach that level. For someone who felt pretty darn active, that was discouraging for a little while.

Then I started getting motivated. “Okay, little device, if you think I should move more, then I’ll show you!” I started walking loops around the office. I’d go upstairs, then pretend to have forgotten something and go down and upstairs again. I decided to walk to the local store rather than driving that mile. I danced with gusto rather than just swayed at concerts. And it made a difference! Yes, I earned more PPVs per day, and that was great. More, though, I learned what being a truly active person meant. And I got an attitude adjustment about moving. Faster and more intense was good in some respects, but going longer, moving all the time rather than sitting still, finding ways to be inefficient… these all made a difference in that number I earned. When I got my fancy ActiveLink, the encouragement was compounded by my ability to get even more detailed information about my movement and the knowledge that every step I take, every move I make, my monitor will be watching me. (Cue Sting’s smoldering voice here!)

When I see those little green lights dance for me at the end of the day, I’m grateful for the scrutiny. And I respect every little tiny step, bend, dip, and squat I can fit into my day.

What does moving more mean to you? How does getting credit for all your little moves make you feel? Please share in the comments section below!

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