Fitbit, fitness, and me

I joined the fitness tracker revolution pretty late, in part because until the last couple of years, I didn’t really care about getting healthy and staying in shape. Why would I? I was young and thin and surely didn’t have to think about that stuff until later.

Then a few of my friends started getting into fitness and health. This happened around the time I realized that at 28, I wasn’t getting any younger, and to be honest, I was in terrible shape. I’ve talked about my adventures in running before and using a mobile app to track my distance and stats. But as more and more of my friends started getting Fitbits and discussing things like steps and distance and pulling ahead of another friend in a challenge, I started to feel left out. I wanted in on these challenges and badges as well–because if anything motivates me, it’s competition.

One of my friends had somehow acquired multiple Fitbits, so a few months ago he gave me one to test and see if I liked it. It arrived in the mail early on a Saturday morning where I had walking plans for the afternoon. I put it on a charger and let it charge while running around the house and finishing chores.

After finishing those chores, the Fitbit was charged enough for me to go on an afternoon walking outing, so I activated it on my phone’s Fitbit app, strapped it to my wrist, and headed out the door. I walked over Fitbit’s default goal of 10,000 steps that afternoon, getting this experiment off to a good start.

Over the coming days, my friends invited me to challenges. I earned badges for walking up so many flights of stairs and walking so many miles and taking so many steps in a day, which motivated me to do more to see what the next badge was.

Since many of my friends have Fitbits, this means our conversations occasionally turn to this bit of fitness equipment, especially when we’re comparing steps and distance and how we’re doing in our challenges. It can be a little obsessive sometimes, such as when I’m less than a hundred steps away from the next thousand, and oh come on, I could do that easily.

That 40,000 step day came from this way of thinking. I spent the day walking a seven-mile path (one way) and found myself at just over 38,000 steps upon arriving home. Knowing that I was unlikely to get remotely close to 40,000 steps in a day for a long time, I walked around the neighborhood until finding myself within a few hundred steps of 40k, then walked home and let my pattering around the house take care of the rest.

I’ve won fewer challenges than I would like thanks to being friends with some hardcore walkers. But for many of these challenges, seeing that I was within just a few steps of the person above me was enough to get me up and moving just to overtake them. The same has happened for comparing my weekly totals to those of my friends.

Fitbit has turned fitness into a game, and I am 100% okay with this. If friendly competition and statistics are what it takes to get me off my butt and moving around, then I will embrace it.

The release of Pokemon Go has added another element of my fitness regime. Since eggs are hatched through walking around (just like in the video games), I’m more motivated than ever to make my steps count. I make sure the app is open when walking around, even if I don’t intend to stop and catch that CP 10 Rattata in my path, because that distance walked will count toward hatching whatever is in that egg. (Porygon, Charmander, and Tentacool this morning for the curious.)

Just don’t play Pokemon Go while running on a hill. I learned this one the fun way and got the scrapes and bruises to prove it.

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