Fitbit Obsession

Yosemite Trip stats 2017

Most days, I manage to get 5-7 hours of sleep after keeping busy all day and exhausting myself.  Some days I’m tired all the time, and do nothing but go back and forth between the bed and my couch as I try and find someplace comfortable to sleep while ignoring the aches and pains of my body.

Some days, I’m out and about in the car, and my levels of exhaustion kick in so I need a nap.  In the car.  In the heat of Summer.  You know, the place where you’re not supposed to leave your pets.  Talk about freaking people out, when they walk by to see you sleeping (reclined, in the driver’s seat) in your car.

I can never predict what will trigger longer sleeping needs, but I am loving my fitbit “Alta”, a/k/a “Coach Fittie” for both prompting me to move, as well as tracking what’s happening passively as I go about my day.

The part I’m really fascinated with are the stats for daily activity.  You see, I’m supposed to keep moving, but not move enough to trigger an exacerbation.  So, I use fitbit for the opposite of what most people use it to accomplish.  You will NEVER see me trying to “feel the burn”, or “get some cardio”.  With exercise-induced asthma / breathing issues with COPD, my goal is to keep on moving, but gently enough so that I don’t get tired or break a sweat.

Coach Fittie stats 22JUN17

Any time there is a green spike in the first (Monday’s) measurements, it’s showing where I’m doing sustained movement at a good pace (usually walking), and usually for 400 – 500 steps per spike, to help me achieve the recommended minimal goal of 10,000 steps per day.

While I have upgraded to a Waterfi Alta fitbit so that I can wear it in the pool and track my movements, you can see that my swimming period for Thursday (between 6:30 and 7:30pm) didn’t track at all.  Why?  Because my exercises are constant and gentle, and apparently too gentle for Coach Fittie to notice.

At this point, I don’t know how my measurements are gathered, specifically, in order to challenge any of the data.  Frankly, I don’t care and simply trust the tool as a guide vs. a bible.  However, I will say that, even without knowing the algorithms and how the data is gathered, that I love the data available for waking and sleeping to help keep me on the straight and narrow.  This tool is excellent for both prompting me to move, while not nagging me to death if I am having a low-movement day.

I also like the fact that I can look back over various trips or events, and see where I slept the best and the worst, and see if there are any lessons to be learned about staying well despite my chronic health condition – COPD.

Oregon Trip 2017 energy levels

In particular, I was in the regular bed in Mariposa, in the first table, above.  The next night, I was in a regular bed in Yosemite.  The third night, I’d switched to the sofa bed (a torture device if ever I’ve slept on a bad mattress), and I actually slept 10 minutes more on the crappy bed than I did on the better quality mattress / bed.

I’m able to see how many times I’m restless, and I’m able to evaluate if I thought I slept well, vs. whether Coach Fittie thought I slept well.

When I compare the number of steps taken per day (or during multiple days – the graphic in the right corner of the sleeping charts), I can see that my amount of activity has little to do with whether or not I’m sleeping well at night.  At the end of the day, my restlessness comes down to pee breaks and pain.

I can also track my exhaustion by looking at the second night in Yosemite, when I barely moved and slept solidly (after a day of travel), compared to the night I arrived in Oregon, when I didn’t get to bed until 1am, and then slept like a rock due to exhaustion.

If I can get a solid night’s sleep by exhausting myself so that I’m not tossing and turning as aches and pains wake me up, then I’m going to continue to push myself in the hope that I will sleep well that night.

Loving my Coach Fittie Alta fitbit.  Whatever it is that keeps you up and participating in the world despite your health challenges, I hope you enjoy the process.

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