I bought myself a fitbit one at the end of last year and a few people have been asking me about it so I thought I’d put my thoughts into a post for you all to peruse at your leisure. My parents have both had one for a couple of years and they love them and use them every day, so I decided I needed to get in on the action and begin logging my activity with fitbit. It’s pretty easy to be sedentary these days – especially those of us with sedentary jobs. For me, I sit down to practice and I’m at a desk when I’m doing other admin things – then before you know it it’s dark outside and I’ve barely moved. The fitbit one clips discreetly into your pocket or bra and counts your steps, plus distance, calories burned and floors climbed. It has an automated goal of 10,000 steps per day but you can change this goal if you like. I’ve kept mine at 10,000 as that’s what we’re told we should be aiming for (10,000 steps is around five miles). The first few weeks I had mine I’m sure I became a total fitbit-bore to all around me. Parking miles away from where I wanted to be or just leaving the car at home altogether. Going out dancing and being thrilled to have done 14,000 steps before even going to sleep. Going out of my way to find the stairs rather than take the lift (not possible with harp by the way). Now that the initial novelty of the fitbit one has worn off, I’m still using it every day. Why? Because it encourages you to move more. My friend Katherina has one and she joked that it plays on all the negative emotions we have – the guilt of not moving enough, the thrill of achieving more than your friends, ick… but still I use it and like to be towards the top of the leaderboard of my fitbit ‘friends’. The fitbit one itself is really small… But it comes with a handy silicone clip: You can also get it in burgundy. I thought about it but I’m the only one who ever sees it really so there was no point paying an extra £10 for a different colour, right? So I just clip this to my bra first thing in the morning and forget about it – it comes with a tiny dongle to plug into the computer so whenever I’m a few feet away from the computer it’ll sync to my online fitbit account. I’ve also set my phone up to do this but you don’t have to. It emails you when it needs charging, which is only about once every 10 days, and it charges in about an hour. The button at the top lets you scroll through all the information – and you can tailor the information you want to see online – so you can see the time, steps that day, floors climbed and calories burned. There’s also a cute flower that grows if you’ve been active recently: If you reach a milestone such as 50 total miles or 100 floors climbed you’ll get an email and a ‘badge’ – it’s quite nice to know I’ve climbed enough floors to be at the same height as a helicopter but, I’ll admit, not overly useful. What is really handy is that you can connect your fitbit account with myfitnesspal – so fitbit logs your steps, myfitnesspal logs your food, and theoretically, you will lose weight if you burn more calories than you eat (although there are lots of different opinions on this so let’s move on swiftly!) I’ve been logging my food for almost 100 days, and I think 100 days is enough, once I’ve got my 100th day of food logging I’ll probably stop doing it so religiously and just focus on eating whole, healthy foods (and maybe drinking fewer glasses of rose wine). I’ve lost 6 pounds since I’ve had mine. So I don’t know whether that’s from moving more or eating less – it’s almost definitely a mixture of both. I haven’t been trying to lose weight very quickly but I am aware that I want to lose a bit. No rush though – I’m not going on holiday for another eighteen weeks. Something else you can use the fitbit one for is tracking your sleep – this is a bit much for me, I tend to know if I’ve slept well or not! Also, I wasn’t keen on the wristband that came with the fitbit. The velco was weird and was already losing its grip after a few nights. I loved the silent vibrating alarm though, it wakes you up without disturbing your significant other. But it wasn’t worth it for me to wear the uncomfortable wristband unfortunately. I’d love to know your thoughts on the fitbit if you have one? What do you think?
The summer is drawing to a close and there’s a definite sense of ‘back to work’ here in Manchester.
It’s been a very chilled break for me, I spent some time in the Netherlands, where I had a few cycling lessons, learnt a bit of Dutch, ate a lot of food and drank lots of coffee. I also went on a few National Trust adventures and had many, many dinner parties with friends.
I had a few gigs here and there, mainly providing background music for weddings and other social occasions. It was enough to get me through August (just) but things feel like they’re stepping up a gear now.
It’s September, the start of a new term, I’ve joined a gym (and have been going three times a week) – already I feel like I have way more energy. Gigs are starting to come in thick and fast so I’m spending more time practising. The choir that I sing with has started up again after an August break, and with that the weekly trips to the pub also restart. The new term has also started at Chetham’s, where I work one day a week, how is it that some schoolkids now were born in 2006?!
So the upshot of all this is, all of a sudden I’m ridiculously busy! I’m seeing this as a very good thing as it means I may have money soon yay! I also need to start getting up early again (boo!) but for this I have freshly ground coffee that starts making itself at 7am – I don’t have the mental clarity to grind beans at that time.
I intend to be posting more or less weekly from now on. Just to keep checking in and keep this blog up to date. I hope all of your summers were lovely and that the start of term isn’t too traumatic!
I’ve been thinking recently about the idea of escape.
Practice is, for me, often an escape. I go running three times a week in the mornings to clear my head and yes, escape. People do many different things, some may dance or draw, some go walking in the countryside, some do yoga, but a lot of the time they feel like it is an escape. Obviously there are ways of escaping some people use that are not good for them, excessive drinking, drug abuse, or other destructive habits. But maybe their reasoning is the same? Maybe they want to escape to a place where current problems are no longer at the forefront of their minds.
If I’m upset about something, practice is a chance to – as my teacher says – leave all those little niggling things in your mind in a box by the door. You can’t practice effectively while worrying about your bank balance, nor can you practice well while wondering what he or she meant when they said whatever they said. It is a chance to focus the mind and it is a retreat from that voice in your head that tells you you’re inadequate (we all have that, right?)
Practising is like putting yourself in an entirely different mental state, a more creative state – whilst also being on the lookout for what can be improved, enhanced or changed for the better. I never feel like I should be doing anything else while I’m practising, it’s when I’m doing other things that I feel I should be practising. It’s nice to tell that voice to quiet down a bit, too.
Surroundings can matter a lot during practice – I’m not sure why – I cannot practice in a messy room, I just can’t, sorry. The act of tidying the space around me somehow clears my head and makes me ready to sit down and work. If I’m at the harp and all I can see is mess, it plays on my mind til I tidy it away anyway. De-cluttering the space around me de-clutters my mind in a lot of ways. Maybe that’s another escape?
I’m about to embark on week six of a fourteen week running plan with the aim of being able to run for an hour at the end of the plan. I have an amazing app on my phone that tells me exactly when to run and when to walk, and I can listen to my music at the same time (usually cheesy upbeat dance music circa 2003). It’s called 10K runner: couch to 10K in 14 weeks or something like that. Definitely worth buying if you’re into that sort of thing, or indeed, you are looking to get into it. I’ve been using it for five weeks and I love it, running three mornings a week is becoming a habit and one I intend to keep for a long time.
Anyway, I digress, running for me is a complete escape from normal life, at school I was fair to rubbish at sports, and was always near last at the dreaded cross-country races we had to do. But now that I can set the pace and I’m not against anybody, I can just see it as a chance to stretch my legs and get out in the fresh air, I can feel myself getting fitter already and with each run it gets a bit easier to go just that little bit further. It is a complete change in my routine – not that my usual days have much routine to them…
Maybe it’s not escape I’m after, I’m perfectly happy where I am right now, why would I want to escape? I’m doing what I love for a living, I have my health and a lovely family and great friends. Believe me I count my blessings every day. Maybe it’s a change. A change is as good as a rest, or so they say. Changing what we’re doing refreshes the mind and invigorates us with new energy. The last thing any of us need is to sink into indifference, lethargy and mediocrity. Maybe the way to stay on top of things is to keep moving, keep doing new things and pushing ourselves to be the absolute best we can be, and to use our little escapes as stepping stones along the way…