Relationships and Health
One way I thought would engage students right away toward thinking about how relationships impact health is to ask my wife Betsey to come in on the first day and have us briefly talk about how we help each other meet fitness and health goals.  

Recently we purchased a new product called Fitbit that is basically a very small accelerometer that tracks your steps and even records your movements while sleeping to track how often you wake during the night.  With some nifty software to track food intake and other activities you can quickly see why you are adding pounds to your frame each month.  

I have always known that weight gain is a simple formula of  calories consumed over calories burned.  There are many products/apps on the market now that track this for you.  Fitbit seemed to work right away for Betsey and me.  Last month, once the weather started improving, we decided to walk together with our crazy Boston Terrier Pearle every morning,  rain or shine.  

This turned out to be a great thing not only for our health but for our relationship as well.  Since we are both busy with various projects, we often spend too much time in front of the computer and not enough quality time with each other.  Our morning walks became a time to reconnect, share our feelings and plans for the day, tell each other about interesting news, and sometimes even work out a disagreement.  Pearle never seemed to mind.

Well that's all great, I was enthusiastically entering my food consumption each day and I even noticed that I started to cut down on some of the excess snacking that I typically do when I am mindlessly trying to avoid work.  Being aware of what I eat and challenging myself and Betsey to get our 10,000 steps seemed to be pushing that that equation more in favor of the calories burned.  Even a little competition started to set in when Betsey realized that I had 20,000 steps one evening and she only had 8,000.  She promptly got up and took a walk with Pearle even though it was already well after dark,  something she would have never considered in the past.

So I'm thinking, this would be great as a research tool for my roommates study in the fall.  Its so easy to use.  Only one problem.  Two days ago I woke up and got dressed and realized I had not worn the fitbit to bed.  I went to retrieve it from the shorts I was wearing the day before and to my horror, it was not there.  I looked everywhere but realized that the tiny device had likely brushed up against something either when I was working in the yard or riding my bike.  A $100 investment gone in a week!   Snakebit again.  

Its not the cost really but the sense of control I was feeling about my health and how that was nicely dovetailing with my wife's health goals.  It sucks being an out of work PhD.   I can't  easily fork over another 100 and yet I value what the device was helping me achieve.  What to do...