I was sitting on my couch watching TV and minding my own business when the commercial came on and brainwashed me.
The ad showed people getting alerts from their FitBits to go for walks. A woman lept from a bench at the bus stop just as the bus arrived and opted to walk instead after a “Let’s move!” message appeared on her FitBit; a man about to enter a crowded elevator looks at his FitBit and jaunts up the stairs instead; a man smiles after an evening run and a mother playfully runs with her kids. All the while, Fats Domino’s “I’m Walking” is the score to the ad.
These people were happy and active because of their FitBit Altas. I had to have one, too. Never mind that a FitBit I had bought a year prior was still sitting in its original packaging, tucked away in my media console.
I decided to trade in my unused FitBit for a newer, better version. Two days before my birthday in April, I upgraded.
Getting a FitBit was probably inevitable. In my twenties, I clipped a pedometer to the waist of my pants to count my daily steps. I went through a few. Dead battery. Broken. Lost.
Next was a phone app that counted steps. If I didn’t have my phone on me, my steps couldn’t be counted. The app became a casualty when I had to delete apps and photos to clear internal storage on my phone.
I have moments of trying to be healthier. The reasons are almost never pure.
I bought my second FitBit in April to get motivated to work out again. I knew one of my cousins had one and thought it would be fun to sync up. I also synced with other friends and family.
The year before I got (and used) my FitBit, I worked out five days a week with male co-workers during our lunch break. The workouts were intense, and I felt great. Without it being my goal or focus, I lost weight. On different days our workouts were cardio such as stationary bike, running outside, jump-roping, row machine or weight training for upper body and lower body aka leg day.
Before I was part of that group I took spin classes or cardio kickboxing at NYSC after work, or ran on the treadmill, elliptical, bike, row machine during lunch. When I stopped working out with the guys, I went back to those exercises, but my workouts were far and few between and definitely less intense. My new clothes weren’t fitting the same way.
Having lost my workout buddies, I hoped my Alta would keep me motivated. I went to Best Buy with a purpose. I asked to be pointed in the direction of FitBits, specifically the Alta. There was a display with various models bolted down. The Alta was so new, it hadn’t been added to the display yet, but were for sale. It took me a ridiculous amount of time to decide between the purple or black band. The purple was “funkier” but I reasoned that the black matches with everything.
Unlike other times when I’ve purchased new toys (the previous Fitbit sat untouched for over a year, as have my Wii, Nook, and replacement iPod touch), I immediately opened my FitBit to charge and program it.
I was hooked right away. I liked seeing how well or poorly I did each day. I have a desk job and work from home twice a week. Sometimes I don’t realize how long I’ve been sitting until my FitBit buzzes me and tells me I need to get moving, which it does at 10 til the hour, every hour from 8 am to 9 pm.
I connected with a few other FitBit friends and compare my steps to theirs, using it as motivation to get walking, but I mostly focused on my own numbers. There are plenty of features that I don’t use, like water intake and food journal.
The tracker isn’t 100% fool proof. Once I did two 30-minute video workouts at home, but my stats said only 6 minutes of physical activity. I felt robbed. Many occasions it proclaims that I’ve had 9 or 10 hours of sleep. I didn’t even get that much as a child.
The only time I take off my FitBit is to shower. Even though the packaging says it can get wet, I don’t want to take any chances. One time I ignored the low battery warnings and it died. I missed out on earning my steps and didn’t “win” the hour. I was pissed off because it was the final hour, and I could’ve had a perfect score that day.
Another time, I forgot to put it back on after showering and actually felt angry and disappointed thinking about how those thousands of unrecorded steps would affect my stats. It was on a day I had errands and would’ve earned more steps than usual. I posted about it on Facebook and worried about looking silly. I was pleasantly surprised to see a few people agreed with me and shared their own stories.
The novelty of wearing a FitBit has yet to wear off. Weeks after purchasing it, my watch’s battery died. Before that, I looked like a crazy woman wearing both on my left wrist. It helped me get my workout mojo back and my clothes are starting to have more wiggle room. Let’s move!