Not being one to make New Year’s resolutions, I got a Fitbit for Christmas and I’m now exploring its impact on my healthy habits and to see if it helps me stay fit. Yes, it gets me out of my chair; however, I’m not sure it’s going to make me healthier.
In keeping with the season, this week’s The Washington Post Sunday column entitled “Five Myths” focused on habits. According to its author, half of Americans resolve on January 1 to loose weight yet only eight percent succeed. One-quarter give up after only a week. In her perspective, the fault lies in our understanding about how we can change our habits. For example, we tend to believe Apps (aka Fitbits) can help us change our behavior. It turns out my Fitbit operates on the assumption that recording information results in changing habits, yet the author concludes all the monitoring in the world may result in us focusing on things that have no impact on change.
Let’s use me as an example. My target is to take 10,000 steps a day. An avid runner, I was curious to learn just how many miles, minutes and calories that represented. It is rather shocking to learn at 4:00 p.m. you’ve had a total of 15 active minutes in your day, and quite a boost when you feel that micro-buzzer letting you know you’ve hit the magic target. Now I find myself pushing my runs to go just a tad bit further every day. All good. However, after burning 8,500 steps disassembling Christmas, I didn’t push as hard on my run. Not to mention I haven’t even touched my yoga mat for fear no amount of vinyasa yoga will add up to 10,000 steps. So what kind of favors am I doing myself?
One, I’m getting off my bum on an even more regular basis, and I’m someone who has some really good habits I can rely on. Two, I’m monitoring my sleep with this new toy instead of making assumptions about how much rest I’m getting. Three, I’m not going to use the food and water tracking features on my Fitbit. Four, I’m never making another New Year’s resolution about weight and diet again! Which leads back to the issue of how best to actually change habits.
If you or someone you care about deeply is invested in improving their health and thoroughly overwhelmed at the magnitude of effort it could take, I recommend reading Effortless Healing, by Dr. Joseph Mercola. Yes, the guidance for healthy hydration, the simple ways to increase consumption of veggies, and the efficiency of burning fat for weight loss are included in this book. What’s unique is the simple solution set for achieving these objectives and the readily understood rationale for initiating the changes.
Dr. Mercola’s recommendations for when to eat are as important as what you choose to eat. As for exercise, his concludes that reducing the length of time you sit every day is more important than a regular exercise schedule. Vitamin D intake is crucial. Sleep is essential, and being barefoot reduces inflammation and increases blood flow. When it comes to food, he lists foods to avoid and gives you better choices. Meeting people where they are, he offers accessible, impactful information that enables significant change of habits – one step at a time.
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Biography: Karen Howard, CEO and Executive Director of Organic & Natural Health Association, is a visionary and results-focused leader who has spent more than 30 years working with Congress, state legislatures and healthcare organizations to develop innovative healthcare policy and programs. She has held a variety of executive positions, including serving as professional staff for a Congressional committee, and has policy expertise in the diverse areas of integrative and complementary medicine, managed care, healthcare technology and mental health. An advocate at heart, she has worked to strategically advance the mission and vision of organizations through effective advocacy and strong collaboration.