A couple months ago, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. I realize that, in the grand scheme of things and the many debilitating diseases and conditions out there, this is a comparatively minor condition. I have waited to talk about it though, because it’s still not “fixed,” still not resolved, and I quite frankly feel self-conscious and depressed about it. After two months of supplementing with levothyroxine, I’m still so exhausted I can barely make it through the day. I often take naps mid-day, as I did during the first trimester of pregnancy. My weight is up 20 lbs from where I’d like it. I will go back and get my levels tested again next month, and the doctor may adjust my dosage. I have friends who say it took years to establish an effective treatment plan. So I’m feeling sorry for myself and feeling guilty for feeling this way because so many people have it so much worse.
In addition to taking my prescription, I’ve taken steps (literally!) to do what I can to combat the symptoms. I try to get to bed at a decent hour each night. I’ve cut out/reduced walnuts, peanuts, soy, raw spinach and raw kale. My husband sprang for a few months of personal training sessions, so I’ve been getting my butt kicked weekly by my trainer Jen. Lastly, my hubby gifted me with a Fitbit One, which two of my good friends had given rave reviews. These can often be bought at a big discount on ebay.
The Fitbit One is kind of a highly updated pedometer. Not only does it track daily steps, it tracks distance, calories burned, stairs climbed, and sleep duration and quality. It syncs with your computer automatically when you’re near it and there’s a whole online set-up that awards you “badges” when you hit milestones and gives you handy charts and graphs to monitor your progress. And, of course, like everything these days, you can have “Friends” and see their step counts.
I’ve learned so much about myself through this little gadget! I’ve learned I typically fall asleep in 4-7 minutes. I’ve learned I have a period of fitful sleep almost every morning at 4:30 a.m., but I don’t wake up. I sleep an average of 7 hours a night. Most of all, I’ve learned that 10,000 steps is not super-easy to hit every day.
A friend shared David Sedaris’s article, “Stepping Out,” from The New Yorker in which he states, “Ten thousand steps, I learned, amounts to a little more than four miles for someone my size—five feet five inches. It sounds like a lot, but you can cover that distance in the course of an average day without even trying, especially if you have stairs in your house, and a steady flow of people who regularly knock, wanting you to accept a package or give them directions or just listen patiently as they talk about birds.” Any time I think about this article and the way Sedaris goes on and on about how he would regularly average 25K steps a day and how simple 10K is to hit, I want to growl. It’s not. Simple, that is. For one thing, it is only measuring steps. If I bike or lift weights at the gym, that activity doesn’t count. If I run or walk the treadmill at the gym–those are the days I will eventually hit 10K steps. But just gym time isn’t enough to do it. I have to go to the gym, the grocery store, and maybe a park playdate or evening family walk to hit the goal. Days I don’t hit the gym? I’m lucky to hit 6K steps, and that includes leaving the house to run a couple short errands.
The issue is that I don’t live somewhere where I can walk to get where I need to go–even if I had the time, I’m transporting kids. I think most Americans drive or take public transportation to get where they need to go. I’m fortunate in my primary role as a stay-at-home mom because I have the luxury of being able to get out during the day and go places with my kids. Many people have office jobs that keep them seated at a desk for the majority of the day, limiting their daily steps. My best day so far, I went to the gym in the morning for high-intensity circuits, went on a 2-hr hike, and then hunted crawdads along a stream in the evening. That was 15K steps.
I am a huge supporter of Fitbits and similar products because I think at the least they make you more self-aware of your activity level, and at best, they encourage you to move more.