Really, it was all the old man’s fault.

He was ambling around the edge of the cliff at Weathington Park, offering to take everyone’s picture with their phone.

I don’t know if he was doing some sort of undercover operation to plant a tracking device on everyone’s phone or what, but he was quite insistent.

I was the only one on the ledge that day with a DSLR. I handed him my camera, which is pretty hefty compared to the variety of phones he’d been using.

“Whoa. Is this thing going to kick back?”

“Maybe a little. All you need to do is push this black button.”

“Which button?”

“This one.”

“Okay. Where is it?”

“Riiiight here.”

I placed his finger on the button, then Chris and I posed at the cliff and smiled, somewhat plastically.

Old Man stared at the backside of my camera.

“I can’t see anything! Are you sure this thing is on?”

“Yes sir. You have to look in the the viewfinder.”

“The who-what?”

“The little hole at the top of the camera.”

“OOOOH. Okay. Say cheese! HOLY COW I DIDN’T KNOW THIS THING WAS A SEMI-AUTOMATIC! How many pictures did I just take?”

“It’s no problem. Thank you!”

I quickly saved my camera from further misunderstandings and we moved on. Later, I looked at his photography portfolio.

Most of them contained my hand in front of my face, trying to arrest a bunch of stray strands that gathered there at just the wrong moment.

There was only one where my hand was just barely blurring. But the photo disagreed with me, as do most photos of myself these days.


Granted, it wasn’t that bad of a picture. But for some reason it was the picture that I could see every one of the fifteen pounds I’ve gained in the past year. I can blame it on the medicine all I want, but it’s still there and it still bothers me.

I’ve tried to convince myself to exercise and get back to using Lose It a few times over the past year, but I lacked motivation, and was in general too tired from those same stupid medications to keep it up. And really, the real reason I need to exercise is not for vanity, but because Dysautonomia’s two main solutions are drinking ridiculous amounts of water and exercising regularly.

…But it’s counterintuitive since simply standing up can double my heart rate – it doesn’t exactly feel like running would be the best idea.

And also, the only two times I’ve ever been successful at losing weight also happened to be when I was nursing my children. And I can’t lactate on command, therefore I’ve been demotivated ever since.

But still. I knew it was possible.

Here were my before and after photos while nursing Noah:

BeforeAndAfterMaking milk: Does the body good.

But it was time. It had to be done. With or without my mammary glands taking part.

We got home from that trip on Sunday, and on Monday I bought myself a FitBit.

(And Chris one, too, since he’s always a good sport to play along with my geek-motivation needs.)

By Tuesday morning I was unforgivably angry with myself for not getting one years ago. For someone who is motivated by charts and graphs, a FitBit is like finding and taking up residence in The Garden of Eden.




FitBit Screenshot

And that’s only half of the information it gives me. ANY TIME I WANT IT.

For those of you not familiar with FitBit, it’s a tiny clip-on gadget (or bracelet, if you prefer that choice) that tracks your steps, and by doing so extrapolates all of the above information (except the water – I am manually adding that) and makes it available to you in real-time on an app and a website. Which, since I would marry a spreadsheet if I could, translates into immediate gratification – a hard thing for me to get from exercise.

(And even the manual water entry is made super easy by standard measurements and a pretty little woman turning blue.)

FitBit Water Tracking

It also seamlessly interfaces with Lose It, which was my non-boob tool in my weight loss last time. FitBit sends Lose It the number of calories I’ve burned, Lose It sends FitBit the number of calories I’ve eaten, and both use the information to help me make wise decisions. It’s a lovely relationship.

Lose It Compared to FitBit

I know that FitBit is basically a glorified pedometer, but any organization that can take a simple tool and turn it into such a beautiful graphical representation of Doing The Right Thing is a hero in my books. Because I need goals. And I need to see how I achieved those goals. And better yet, I need to compete and beat everyone in my path.

(Until Chris ruins everything with his 14 mile Saturday morning runs and taunts me on Twitter.)

FitBit Tweet
(But that’s exactly the kind of competition I need. Because by Monday morning, I had fought my way back on top.)

FitBit Competition copy

…And he thought he was so special because he runs a half-marathon every Saturday.

Mm hmm – Motherhood takes more steps.

(Well, Motherhood plus an intense need to beat one’s husband.)

But back to FitBit. It gives you goals in every area that you could possibly want, offers beautiful and drill-downable charts and graphs of every kind, changes colors from blue to yellow to red to green as you achieve those goals, and allows you to compete with all your friends, and in general completes me.

FitBit Dashboard

It EVEN offers a premium package where you can compare yourself to all the humans. UNIVERSAL BENCHMARKING.

I expect to break down and buy the expanded software within days.

It’s been a full week now, and I have felt fantastic six out of seven days, free of Dysautonomia symptoms. It could be a coincidence, or it could be because I finally found the right tool to reward me with pretty colors when I do the right thing.

At any rate, I’m hooked.

(But whether this pretty software makes up for my lack of lactation remains to be seen.)

If you have a FitBit and want to further my motivation by becoming my friend, my email address is

For the Record: I was not compensated by FitBit to write this nor did they ask me to nor do they know I’m writing it. But if they want to give me that premium package for free, I’d totally take it. FitBit? Are you listening?

31 thoughts on “A Time to FitBit.

  1. What a coincidence! I ordered my FitBit on Monday, and it will arrive tomorrow. I’m in dire need of motivation (and have no possibility of lactation) so here’s hoping it will work for me. I’ll add you when I get it figured out. Thanks for the introduction.

  2. I love my fitbit!! I am not awesome at getting all my steps most days (my job = sitting on my butt in front of a computer) but I do get really excited whenever I hit the 10k and on the weekends I try to be better about it.

    My favorite favorite favorite feature is the silent alarm. OMG LIFE-CHANGING!! I hate being startled awake by loud obnoxious ringtones/alarm sounds and even the nicer alarms that start quietly and get gradually louder are so annoying after about a month of use that I had to keep finding new ones, (Also a co-worker uses a ringtone that I used to use as an alarm sound and it scares the beejeezus out of my whenever it goes off because I’m like “WAKE UP GET OUT OF BED GO GO GO…oh wait, I’m awake, it’s fine.”)

    Anyway: silent alarms FTW. (Plus I set a silent alarm to remind me to take my BC which is much less obvious to others around me than a phone alarm followed by a frenzied dig through my purse. :D .)

    1. I need to get into using the silent alarm, but I ended up not using the sleep feature because it seemed kind of stupid, so I’m not wearing it at night. Does the sleep feature seem less stupid the more data it has?

      1. The sleep tracking opened my eyes to how much sleep I actually get at night. I used to think I needed 7-8 hours but FitBit showed me I was only getting 6-7 hours each night. If you have the wrist band, its easy to fool it doing simple things like brushing your teeth.

  3. Glad you love your FitBit! I’got mine for Christmas, and I think it’s awesome. Just one question, though: HOW are you getting 40 Very Active Minutes a day? VAMs are my FitBit nemesis. I did a brutal kettlebell workout yesterday, followed by 15 minutes of yoga…and still only came up with 19 Very Active Minutes. It is incredibly frustrating to be so exhausted and sweaty from your workout that you feel like death is imminent, just to look at your FitBit app and see that you didn’t even hit 20 VAMs.

    1. FitBit is entirely based on steps, so I run/jog. It makes me mad when I take an hour-long semi-fast walk with the kids (as I did yesterday) and only get six minutes. Then I run in place to get my active minutes. :-)

    2. @Stephanie. I’ve struggled with the active minutes thing as well. I’ve found with the recent iOS update that manually adding your exercises is the ticket. Your “step only” oriented friends will still feel superior in rankings but at least your VAMs will be closer to your actual effort.

      1. Thanks, Freddy! I will try that and see if it looks like I’m getting a better assessment of my activity. It’s just so demoralizing to work out until you feel like you’re going to collapse, and then see that FitBit only “counted” a small portion of it.

  4. I may have to try this! I used Lose It based on your recommendation and lost 20 lbs. Thanks for your recommendations!

  5. I wondered how you were doing with your weight but it seemed rude to ask. I’m going to go with the boob method in a few weeks but like you I seem to regain too much when I go dry. I don’t find apps useful motivation or help. Interestingly, the last time I managed to lose 20 or so pounds (right before I got pregnant and regained it) my main motivation was the memory of my thighs not rubbing together as I walked. That is an amazing and novel sensation for me and I really want it back.

  6. Just sent you a friend request. You’ll be underwhelmed by my performance so far for sure. But just looking at all your greens made me want to get up and do more, so win? Have you considered buying the Aria scale to go with it all? Cause I’m looking into that right now, but seem to be afraid to make that purchase…

  7. Inquiring minds want to know – did you get the bracelet, or do you remember to bring the smaller one in your pocket?

  8. Did you see the Today show article that said it caused some to gain weight because it over estimated calories burned? I’m still considering one though. I, like you, was only really successful while being the dairy for my babes.

    1. Interesting. I always eat less than it tells me to just in case, so hopefully I’m making up for any over-estimations on its part.

      But for the record, it always gives me slightly less calorie burn than the treadmill reads.

  9. Love mine and totally compete with the husband! I got to 100,000 before him (and he ran a half marathon this spring).

    I link mine to Map My Fitness for runs and My Fitness Pal for the calorie log. And I clip it to my shoelace when I do spinning class.

    I am all for charts, linking and competition. Even makes me take the steps at the office.

    I have lost 5 pounds (back in a 4 again) and the husband (who got his for Christmas) is down 20 pounds!!!


  10. LOVE. MY. FITBIT. Jason and I have the Aria scale which measures both weight and body fat percentage and links it to your fitbit app. It shows up in a pretty little graph and it’s SO SATISFYING to watch that little plot point go a little lower every day! Just a happy little downhill slope!! I have lost practically all of my pregnancy weight from Jonas (Feb 20) and it has actually been so physically and emotionally painless with the fitbit/aria/myfitnesspal approach that I’m going to keep going and shoot for my pre-first-child weight!

    Lose It looks really cool! I use myfitnesspal and I LOVE watching calorie get added back to the “remaining” column as I’m active. Sometimes at the end a really active day I will have 300 or so calories remaining and I won’t even be hungry… But I will eat a bowl of ice cream anyway just because I can!

    Also, the vindication of having physical PROOF of my unending toil as a SAHM was very satisfying (ie, “SEE?? I never stopped moving!”) The feature that measures sleep time and efficiency was also a lot of fun when Jonas wasn’t sleeping through the night. In case you were wondering, a cardiology fellow on overnight call sleeps better than a mother with a newborn!

    I would love to move with you anytime!! More steps=more ice cream. That’s a weight loss plan I can get behind!

    1. PS-I apologize for my over use of exclamation points. I’m very excitable when it comes to most things, particularly my fitbit. know I have a problem. I’m seeking help.

  11. Cool! I think you look great in ALL those pics but I’m thrilled this (or whatever it was) has helped control your symptoms! Keep us updated :)

  12. I’m late reading this one, but I got a fitbit a month or two ago and I love it too. I can’t run or jog due to a variety of foot/ankle issues, so it never shows much in the way of ‘very active’, but I’m just focused on getting my steps in, and making progress. :-)

  13. I just got mine in the mail today. I’m already wearing it and excited to see if it motivates me to move more! Thanks for the recommendation!

  14. Hi Rachel,
    I decided to buy a fitbit yesterday and I came across your post. Are you still using your fitbit?

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