In a crazed, brain-burp moment, I bought a fitbit step tracker. Thought it would help keep me on track with my weight loss and fitness programme. Mind you, I was doing reasonably well without that reminder but I thought I’d up my game.
Note that this was last fall after gardening season so I thought I needed a bit of motivation to go outside and exercise during the rotten weather.
My traditional system was very bearlike (but in reverse). Put the weight on during the winter and take it off during the summer. My thinking was constant push from the tech would help me keep it off during the winter too and by next spring, I’d be svelte and slim.
Wearing it on my wrist didn’t work. The day I got almost zero steps for carrying heavy weights several hundred feet because my arms weren’t pumping was the beginning of the end. Locked around ginormous planters, I did an afternoon’s worth of heavy lugging and received half the reward (the empty-handed steps returning).
I Macgyvered it and it worked nicely. (inserted it into an old sports wrist band and wore it around my ankle) It measure steps and all was well with the world.
But a curious thing happened. A friend found out I had one and he “friended” me on Fitbit.
Allow me to digress for a brief rant. Why is it that every app wants to be your friend or hook you up with your friends? My “friends” know more about me than my mother ever did! (as an aside, if you haven’t set your data to “private” inside Fitbit, your friends can see every detail you’re recording – from eating to sleep to … well, whatever activity you record.) Rant over. Thank you for your patience.
But now, I have friends on Fitbit. And they get to see how many steps I take. Or not take. I can now tell when a friend takes a business trip (leaves the fitbit at home) I know when another is working (tons of activity) or taking a day off (sluglike).
And I wonder what do they see in my patterns?
So now comes the admission. I am a type A personality. Yes. Competitive as hell.
And there, floating far above me is a friend with wondrous steps every week. Hell, there are several of them up there in the rarified clouds of step-heaven. I am motivated. Shit, am I motivated!
I start smart. Set a goal. Achieve it. Set a higher goal. Hit the mark. Raise the bar. Soar over the bar. Put the bar into heavenly levels. Achieve minor God status. I am a step-machine.
It’s game-on. I am busting butts. And checking the app several times a day to ensure I stay on top of my own personal Fitbit olympus.
Until the other night when I wandered in – foot sore and tired – after another around-the-world walk to ask WTF I was doing? I had substituted a system that worked for me (calorie counting and reasonable aerobic work with heart benefits) for some computerized gizmo around my ankle. And I had turned my friends (who normally only compete on wine-drinking and telling awfully good stories) into competitors who had to be out-stepped.
My walks were no longer delightful excursions to marvel at nature or delight in old back alleys. They were forced marches to accumulate steps. The fun of it all took a dramatic stage left exit and I was left alone to take ever more steps.
I thought about this for a brief moment. A very brief moment.
Took off the fitbit. Deleted the app off my iPhone and iPad.
And felt good. Really good. For the first time in a month I didn’t give a damn whether I took another step or whether I was “winning”.
This morning I took a walk and for the first time in two months, took the delightful short-cut I used to enjoy. I had given up walking along this flower-filled shortcut because it reduced my step count.
What a joy that was and what a sense of freedom I felt knowing it didn’t matter where I walked or how long I took to get there. Or even how many steps I took. Particularly, the number of steps I took. 🙂
Turns out my iPhone also counts steps but it’s nobody’s friend. It’s more accurate than Fitbit according to some recent tests. And best of all, I don’t give a damn what it says because it’s not hooked up to any other app.
Technology is wonderful stuff, but it has to work for me and make my life better. If not, I need to take it off and get it out of my life. The challenge is knowing what works and what only pretends to work. And sometimes I just have to experiment and not be afraid to run counter to the herd.