Why I broke up- and then got back together- with my FitBit
Naked truth moment: I can be a little obsessive. Especially when it comes to health – mine or that of someone I love.
(I know. This comes as a complete surprise.)
I first learned about the Fitbit a little over a year ago when a friend of mine got one and fell in love with it. I watched with envy as she booted around town, aware of the exact number of steps taken, miles covered, and stairs climbed. Still in recovery mode from my pregnancy and a broken foot, I craved evidence of mobility anywhere I could get it.
And then, a few months later in Hawaii celebrating our anniversary, my dear husband indulged me with the gift of promised fitness: my very own Fitbit. I’m sure I squealed (maturely, of course) when I saw it, and immediately rushed to the computer to set it up.
The next day I wore it faithfully, checking my step count after every little activity. Walk to the café down the street for brunch: how many steps? Upstairs to use the restroom: did that count as a whole flight? To the beach, around the shops, a trip back to the car because I forgot something…. every step of the day was accounted for.
Back at the condo that first night I fretted about the fact that I hadn’t attained the somewhat arbitrary daily goal of 10,000 steps. I was a little over 1,000 steps away. I found myself tracking how many steps it was from the patio where we were enjoying our evening to the bedroom at the end of the hall. Next thing you know, my husband watching with a mix of disbelief, amusement, and horror, I started pacing up and down the hallway, fixated on this ½” x 2” digital device, determined to hit the 10,000 steps goal on my first day.
Which I did. And which gave me a smug feeling of satisfaction as I then settled into the couch next to my hubby to enjoy what now felt like a well-deserved glass of wine.
And so my obsession began.
Now this relentless tracking of steps, miles, and stairs might seem a little hypocritical for someone so vocally opposed to counting calories, grams, or ounces when it comes to food. In fact it’s this exact unhealthy relationship to endless quantification at the expense of quality and listening to my body’s inner wisdom that drives me away from calorie counting in the first place.
Much like I found when I experimented with counting calories, the little number on my Fitbit took on a life and a power of its own. No longer was I listening to my body’s cues. Feeling restless? Time to get outside and go for a good walk. Feeling exhausted? Go to bed, girlfriend!!
Instead, I was letting this number dictate both my activity level and, more importantly, my activity choice. Strength training became very uninteresting to me, because not enough steps were involved. I wore my Fitbit to yoga class to make sure every little step was tracked. Sure, the software enables you to add this stuff behind the scenes, but it wasn’t as gratifying as seeing it reflected in that little number. I even started watching that little calorie-burn counter as well… and THAT’s a slippery slope if I’ve ever seen one.
Now, I wish I could tell you I saw the error of my ways and moved into a healthy relationship with the Fitbit of my own accord.
But I didn’t. The universe intervened, and took my Fitbit away from me three times. (I won’t bore you with the details.) By the third time, I grew grateful for the end of this relationship. I was back in my body, paying attention to how I actually felt and what I was inspired to do rather than forcing myself into some externally dictated fitness regime.
And so here we are at the top of 2014. My big intention for this year is to move. A lot. At least, a lot more than I have been. You see, I used to be one of those people who would start to twitch if I hadn’t gone for a good run in a few days. And now, post-baby, I’d almost always rather lie on the couch than get up and go. But I feel So. Much. Better. on all levels when I DO get up and go. Hence my 2014 intention…
A couple of weeks into my commitment to daily movement, (which I began about 10 days before the New Year, just to separate myself from the New Years resolutions that always seem so well-intentioned but doomed) I started wondering what my baseline movement requirement was. As in: if I’m just running around with my baby girl, is that “movement” or do I need to do something a little more formal and quantifiable? Cautiously, I reconsidered the Fitbit.
I dug it out of its hiding place, recharged it, and was both excited and nervous as it blinked back to life. (The most recent breakup occurred in a swimming pool… enough said.)
I am proud to relate that the Fitbit now has a healthy place in my life. Each day I check in with myself to see what kind of movement feels right. If I’m not doing any other formal activity – yoga class, strength training, going for a run, etc – then I like to see how many steps I can take doing miscellaneous chores throughout the day. My goal is to hit at least 3 miles, but I consider even 1.5 miles “enough”. Sometimes I go way over, and there’ve been a couple of days when I just didn’t have it in me, and so I did far less. And that’s okay! Overall I’m feeling great, moving much more, and my little Fitbit has found its appropriate place in my fitness life.
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