Aside from one very unfortunate year in college—you know the one, where you rushed a frat and ate three pizzas a day for a semester—for most of my life I’ve been fairly thin without needing to try too hard (#humblebrag).
Still, even for me, the holidays can be a time for a fitness struggle. Let me put it more plainly: Every year around Christmas, I get fat. Not pleasantly plump, or just a little thicker than usual. I get skinny-guy fat. My cheeks puff out, my waist gets all fleshy, and my middle section looks like I’m smuggling soft serve in a ziplock bag under my shirt. It’s not a good look.
But this year I’ve got a new holiday companion—a “holidate”—that will finally help me banish the Yuletide paunch: my new Fitbit Charge HR™.
It helps to know that I’m not entirely alone in the struggle. According to several studies as noted by The New York Times, the average weight gain during the winter holidays is a pound—wait, what? My excess flesh begs to differ. As it turns out though, most people tend to keep that one-pound Christmas gift. Add that up every year and no wonder my great-aunt Shirley always pinches my stomach and winks when I see her at Christmas.
Stopping this fat-ness madness can be as easy as putting the hot cocoa in a to-go cup and catching up with relatives during a walk, instead of sitting on the couch waiting for that holiday ham to come out of the oven. A number of studies have shown that sedentary behavior is detrimental to health. And research presented to the European Society of Cardiology Congress in August showed that simply adding a brisk 25-minute walk to your daily routine can add as many as seven years to your life. Many organizations, including the UK’s NHS, encourage people to walk at least 10,000 steps a day. My Fitbit Charge HR encourages me to do the same, too.
If simply walking more sounds like a ridiculous solution to your holiday-induced density issues, the Fitbit® activity tracker is ready to prove you wrong. By tracking my all-day activity (down to the number of active minutes you have in a day, whether it’s the number of stairs you climbed, steps you took, or distance you traveled), my Fitbit Charge HR showed me how walking is a huge part of an active lifestyle, not just a cheat to get out of your personal training appointment.
In December, there’s no better holidate than the Fitbit activity tracker. The snazzy Fitbit app helps you track your daily fitness level and practically demands compulsive checking, sort of like your Twitter feed, but a lot kinder. It tracks essentials like the number of steps you’ve taken in a day and your heart rate, and it breaks down the data it collects about your fitness in a number of different ways. Its sleek charts and encouraging graphs give you the specifics on just how lazy you’ve been the past several days—much better than those charts and graphs you told your boss you’d finish before heading to the company party.
And I can see how all of my activity (or lack there of) affects the number of calories I’m burning—super helpful since buttery smashed potatoes and angel-food cake always make an appearance on my grandmother’s holiday table. I can even log the food and milliliters of water I’ve consumed in order to track my health more closely. And that helpful tracking capability encouraged me to drink more water and stay hydrated, rather than pounding gingerbread lattes every morning.
Just putting the Fitbit activity tracker on my wrist inspires fitness. Before I had a Fitbit Charge HR I despised jogging on principle. What’s the point of running nowhere in particular—especially if you’re not running from something that may or may not want to kill you? (Although, I’m definitely into toning up to catch that Gingerbread Man.)
But ever since I started holidating my Fitbit Charge HR, I find myself looking for excuses to go for a jog, which is so not The Old Me—if for no other reason than I hate having a day that I don’t get to my goal of 10,000 steps. I even offered to shovel my mom’s driveway last week and chose not to use the snowblower just so I could get my heart rate into the cardio zone at least once that day—that’s necessary to not only burn fat, but to get my heart back to pumping at its strongest and encourage my overall health. Progress! How do I know? My Fitbit activity tracker tells me, by helping me see how my increased heart rate measures the intensity of my workout, and by letting me see how my resting heart rate improves after even a couple of weeks of steady exercise.
In fact, the post-exercise summaries my Fitbit Charge HR showed to me right in the app were one of my favorite things about wearing it. They gave me a cool look at the impact of each exercise routine’s on my overall fitness goal for the day. And for a guy who has trouble enough keeping up with his holiday shopping list, that’s a big help.
My girlfriend loves the Fitbit Charge HR too. Not only does she not have to hit the gym alone anymore I practically drag her there with me now. It’s awesome to stay healthy with my partner and work on our fitness together. We can even compare calories burned, if we promise not to argue about it later. Plus you can’t fib to the Fitbit activity tracker about how much you worked out. And bonus? It doesn’t judge you (or those ridiculous running pants you wear).
The Fitbit Charge HR doesn’t even take a break when you do. Its built-in sleep tracker helped me stay rested—and ready to hit all those holiday parties—by showing me when I slept deeply and when I didn’t, helping me to figure out my own best bedtime. That might sound a little childish, but hey, I’m waking up early to check underneath the tree just like anybody else.
Here’s the takeaway: this winter, it’s time to cut the excuses. Run in the snow, shovel your parents’ driveway, or chop some firewood—and do all of it with the perfect holidate. I was showing off my Fitbit Charge HR to anyone who would take a look—my coworkers, my family, my mom’s dog Henry. I was proud of my holidate, and you will be, too. After all, your Fitbit activity tracker knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good, and go get some exercise!
It’s too easy to slow down during the holiday season. In this series in partnership with Fitbit, we’ll bring you stories about how keeping track of your activity helps to uncover insights that keep things merry and bright.