OTW_DA_MAINWellocracy: What kind of tracker(s) (device/app) are you using and when did you start wearing it?

DeAnna: I was an early adopter of the BodyMedia tracker in 2007. Today I use the Fitbit Flex.

Wellocracy: Why did you start using a tracker? Do you have specific health/wellness goals?

DeAnna: I have always had to watch my weight. Despite my efforts at dieting and exercise, there was no magic solution.
In 2004 when I had my son, I struggled to lose the extra weight. It was a never-ending battle. Then, in 2007, I enrolled in a fitness program at work. We were given a BodyMedia tracking device that helped to transform me. Not only was I able to track my movement, I also saw how work stress was affecting my sleep. Ultimately, it was the impetus I needed to start working with a trainer. Together, we developed a program that worked for ME. Over time I lost the baby weight and improved my sleep. Today I use a Fitbit Flex. I love it and would feel lost without it! I am at the gym more, my stress level is down and I am sleeping better. Oh, and it keeps me honest about my activity level, especially on those days when I feel chained to my desk! One look at my tracker and I am up doing a lap around the office.

Wellocracy: What did you learn about yourself by using a tracker?

DeAnna: I learned that I REALLY CAN do this! Having struggled with weight for most of my life, I realized that I was capable of making positive change in order to once-and-for-all win my battle to lose weight. The tracker is my constant companion telling me, “You are right on today, Girlfriend!” or “No way, Sister, you haven’t even begun to move today.” Tracking is as much a part of my routine as working out.

OTW_DA_2Wellocracy: What do you like best about your tracker? What do you like least about it?

DeAnna: I like that my Fitbit is inconspicuous and comfortable. I think it’s great that the companies that manufacturer these devices are making them fashion-friendly. On the down side, I keep losing my tracker! My friends laugh, but I am notorious for losing it. Hmm… if only there was a tracker for my tracker! I love the Fitbit Flex but do think they need to work on the band design to make it easier to attach and less likely to break and lose the bit.

Wellocracy: Do you share your data with family or friends?

DeAnna: I don’t share my data online, but I do tell my son and husband how things are going. I encourage them to use their trackers. They have both used a tracker and, while they do enjoy it, do not use their trackers as religiously as I do. Even if we are not sharing data, we enjoy encouraging each other to “step it up” and keep active. Not too long ago, my husband lost his Fitbit. Recently, my son and I bought him a Fitbit Charge HR in a very cool shade of purple. He loves it and is constantly commenting on his steps.

Wellocracy: What advice would you give someone thinking about tracking or, do you have other thoughts you would like to share?

DeAnna: When I talk with people about these devices, they sometimes laugh and ask why I need to know my step count. Perhaps working in an environment where tracking is top of mind and part of the daily conversation has colored my view of the world. I am often taken aback when I encounter such resistance to being more active. Having grown up in Virginia away from public transportation, we drove everywhere.

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Now that I live in a city, I choose walking over driving as much as I can. When I first learned that 10,000 steps a day was optimal, I was shocked. But I also realized I was the only one who could do this for me. So, my advice is to go out and get a tracker. It is the key to getting you started towards a healthier life. It’s not perfect, but it provides valuable data to help keep you aware of what you are and are not doing.

My grandfather lived to be almost 103. He was as active as his body would allow. His mantra was “Use it or lose it.” That stays with me every day – and my tracker is my reminder.