Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Fitbit, Part 2

Last week's creative writing assignment was 'lessons learned.' For this assignment, I've adapted one of my blog posting's. Here's my account of how I'm dealing with my competitive nature.  

The Fitbit

I've walked about 1800 steps today.

Sometimes new technology and an addictive personality don't mix. A couple of weeks ago, my Fitbit arrived. The Fitbit is a digital trainer that measures how many steps walked throughout the day in real-time. It can be worn on your wrist or attached to an article of clothing. It's a sort of modern day pedometer with extras. It provides instant feedback by awarding you step "badges" for each successive five thousand steps walked during the day. It's about the size of a quarter, and it gently nudges you to walk more and more. 

I had read an article in the New Yorker by David Sedaris about his Fitbit. He said that it had revolutionized his life. He got fitter, lost weight, and it had changed his whole outlook on physical fitness. On the down side, he did mention that it tended to be addictive. That gave me a moment's pause, but not to worry, I could handle it. It was just a pedometer, after all.   

The day it arrived, I immediately set it up and synced it to my computer creating my own Fitbit homepage, which would monitor my daily activities, the calories burned, and my exercise intensity. I had opted for the basic version, which did not include the sleep monitoring function or bar code scanner that scans food items for calories. 

I got my 5,000 step badge quickly enough, and then my 10,000 step badge by late afternoon. That was the badge that triggered my obsessiveness. I had to get that 15,000 step badge!  After dinner, I went for a walk, even though I normally read or watch TV. Sure enough, by day's end, I'd racked up 16,000 steps or 7.6 miles, and with only a half day of monitoring. What could I achieve in an entire day?

As the days followed, I discovered that I could easily cover 20,000 steps in the course of an average day without really trying. What surprised me was that the average American manages only 5,000 steps a day! It's hard to visualize how little movement that really is. Do people just wake up, get in the car, sit a work, and then return home to sit more? 


After a week with the Fitbit, I wasn't content with merely 20,000 steps a day. I had to have more. I got my 25,000 step badge without too much difficultly. I just added a little after dinner walk to Munjoy Hill from the West End. A few days later, I set my sites on the 30,000 step badge or 15 miles. That was tougher but still manageable. Was a 35,000 step badge in the near future?
  
Then it dawned on me. This little device was beginning to control my life. I began to worry that in a few weeks, things could really get out of hand. Would I be walking from dawn to dusk in order to obtain that elusive step badge? Either I had to re-examine my relationship with the Fitbit or reconcile myself to a life of endless walking. I opted for the former.


I still wear my Fitbit, but I only monitor my progress twice a day and have a daily goal of 20,000 steps. On the weekends, I give myself leeway to be a total couch potato or be as active as I want. I still think about getting that 35,000 step badge, and one day I might get it. But for now, I'm having fun. My new Fitbit regimen seems to work. I'm in control again, but I do have to be diligent, lest my competitive nature gets the better of me. If only there was a device that awarded badges for controlling obsessive competitive urges.

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