5 Things That Kill Activity-Tracking Streaks—And How to Avoid Them

Fitbit activity tracker

Just like romantic relationships, your love affair with activity trackers can hit rough patches. To find out why, University of Washington researchers examined the use patterns of more than 100 users. Below, the top five reasons people fall off the activity-tracking wagon—and how you and your Fitbit tracker can avoid the same fate.

Activity-Tracking Obstacles to Avoid

You forget to charge your tracker.

Don’t let a dead battery derail your health journey. Read up on how long your Fitbit tracker battery tends to last and then set an alarm on your phone, tracker, or calendar to remind you to recharge. With some trackers, like Fitbit AltaHR, you can also add a battery life indicator to the display to see how much juice you have left at a quick glance. Still don’t trust yourself to re-up? Log in to Fitbit.com, navigate over to your settings, click settings, and then enable mobile and/or email low-battery notifications.

You’re frustrated with your progress.

If you can’t seem to hit 10,000 steps a day or lose 5 pounds, you might want to consider scaling back your goals, says Fitbit Advisory Panel member Sherry Pagoto, Ph.D., a psychologist and professor of preventive and behavioral medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. “Choose something you feel really confident you can accomplish, even if it seems ridiculously small, like taking 100 extra steps a day or working out for just two minutes at a time,” she says. Each time you hit that stepping stone, you build momentum toward a larger milestone. Check out these 6 Steps to Making a Healthy New Habit Stick.

You become obsessed.

“This is the curse of the ambitious,” says Pagoto. “They have two gears: high and super high,” To put your foot on the brakes, consider cheat days. “Taking a day off from tracking each week can help you break the all-or-nothing mindset.” If you don’t feel ready to quit tracking cold turkey for 24 hours, grant yourself permission to have one low-steps or low-activity day per week.

You develop food-logging fatigue.

Get a sense of your typical nutrition stats. Spending even a week keeping track of what you eat and familiarizing yourself with Fitbit’s nutrition features can give you a bird’s-eye view of your calorie and nutrient needs, says Fitbit nutritionist Tracy Morris. Once you determine what you need more and less of (vegetables and sugar, for example), you can use that knowledge to shape your diet going forward, with or without further logging—using one of these four strategies.

You accomplished your goal.

Congratulations! You have three options here. One is to raise the bar higher (think signing up for a 5K after you’ve completed a walk-to-run plan). Another is to set a different kind of goal, such as upping your exercise minutes or aiming to hit your target heart rate for a certain amount of time each day versus tracking your steps. The third is to enter a maintenance phase. “A lot of people will lose weight, so they stop tracking—and start drifting back to their old bad habits,” warns Pagoto. “Once you’ve reached your goal, I recommend wearing your Fitbit tracker at least one week out of the month to spot and correct any drift before it gets too out of hand.”

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