And its called a Fitbit.
I have owned a Fitbit for a little over a year now, and sometimes, I wonder, if I actually own it, or if it really owns me.
Its kind of a symbiotic relationship.
Yes, I said relationship.
Because it has ceased to be a “thing” in my life, and become my technology created companion, a virtual cheerleader, and a finger wagging busybody.
It is an all around ever aware conscience that follows me EVERYWHERE, and… I feel grateful.
It holds me accountable, and nudges me to push a little bit harder. It gives me a competitive edge, and for that, I am grateful.
But, as a byproduct, it has irrevocably changed my life, and the way I live it.
Gone are the couch potato days of yore, when I could sit quite happily for hours.
Gone is my urge to sit in a waiting room, or park close to the mall entrance.
Adios to seeing the world from a stationary vantage point, and hello to “let’s walk, I need my steps anyway”.
Back in the day, when I was 25, I was going out to clubs in my mini skirt, happily drinking wine coolers, and anticipating the impending alcohol induced “buzz” that was to follow.
Now I was 45, going to health clubs in my Under Armor, happily drinking kombucha and anxiously awaiting my Fitbit to “buzz”.
I had traded buffalo chicken wings and mozzarella sticks with ranch, for lettuce wraps with nut cheese and tofu.
I had willingly signed on the dotted line when I put that thing on my wrist, and as a formerly carnivorous, pack a day smoking, morbidly obese couch potato, I could definitely appreciate the irony of my present vegan, non smoking, newly active circumstances.
Apparently, a lot changes when you go from the jungle to the zoo, and survival of the fittest begins to take on a whole new meaning.
And as I have learned to adapt to these new rules of engagement, I have noticed that I am not alone.
Which brings me to mention “the others”-
There is a kinship I feel with other people, strangers even, when I walk past them in the grocery store and spy their Fitbit fastened tightly in earnest. We nod to each other, hands on our wrists in recognition, like we know one another’s struggles.
I have been out and about in public before, when I unexpectedly reached my step count goal and my wrist “buzzed”. At which time I was visibly excited as another person walked by. He paused in my direction, gave me the thumbs up, and said “Fitbit?” To which I nodded and smiled. He then smiled back and high fived me.
Its a community of like-minded soldiers, fighting the good fight and reveling in one another’s victories. “The others” are the only other people who truly understand when they see you walking around in circles for no reason, and give you the silent nod of kinship and solidarity.
“May the Fitbit be with you”, my friend. Step on, soldier…step on.
But truth be told, it’s a bit of a double edged sword.
Because my Fitbit is my greatest champion, as well as my harshest critic.
Its like that boyfriend that you swear you are going to break up with, but you keep giving him a second chance. He might make you question you sanity, but maybe you can’t picture your life without him.
My Fitbit makes me feel a little bit nutty.
It has pushed me to to entertain some hair-brained ideas.
It has caused me to jog in place at the bowling alley, walk in circles in the doctors office, stay up late walking a designated path around my living room, and even run up and down my stairs at 0’dark thirty just to get my floors and steps in before the midnight hour.
I have put my Fitbit on my shoe to record steps while waiting for a concert to start.
I have left my seat in the movie theater before the movie began in order to walk in the lobby for the last 10 minutes (because I realized it would be after midnight when the movie was over).
I have done jumping jacks in the bathroom, danced at the grocery store, swayed in line , marched my feet under the table in restaurants, ran in the parking lot, walked the long way, and improvised a myriad of other activities to appease that tiny little dictator…
The Fitbit tells it to me straight, and I always know where I stand at any given moment in time.
And I appreciate that.
It’s like a perfect mix of positive reinforcement and constructive criticism…
Because, at the end of each week (even if I hit all of my goals), right next to my list of my greatest achievements, I will still get a red frowny face on my weekly summary, accompanied by a red line of type, unceremoniously calling me out for my “least active day”.
That does bum me out, and it makes me want to drop kick that itty bitty tattletale.
But I get it.
And I accept that there is always room for improvement, and that is the Fitbit’s way of telling me to keep on moving.
But what happens when the Fitbit isn’t the only one who knows you dropped the ball?
What happens if your Fitbit throws you under the bus?
Then, my friend, we have Fitbit shaming.
It’s a thing. No, really, it is…or it will be.
Mark my words, and remember you heard this first from me, because I am sure at some point it will be all over Facebook, and I will be like “hey, that’s that the thing I was talking about!”
This of course is all in jest, and not at all a real form of bullying, but…
Fitbit shaming is when someone else unexpectedly calls you out on your inferior step status in order to assess your progress and hold you accountable.
Sadly, I have been a victim of just such a circumstance.
Once, when at a friend’s party, I was approached by her adorable elementary school age daughter. She walked up to me sweetly as if to start up a charming and fanciful conversation about dolls and Unicorns.
I was cornered.
She leaned over me instead, and tapped the Fitbit(Flex) on my wrist, to which it revealed my status to be one flashing dot (Five dots= 100%).
My Fitbit had thrown me under the bus.
She looked up at me with her angelic little face and her smile disappeared.
Then, in a very questioning tone she said, “One? Really?” She then shook her head, and walked away. I immediately felt the need to explain…to justify my lack of activity for the day. To give some intelligible reason for my disappointment .
But alas, she was only echoing the voice in my head that was already there, due to the very existence of my Fitbit.
I had accepted all its terms the day I entered into my relationship with that teensy weensy judgmental informant.
Sometimes, I wonder, if I were to repeatedly back over it with my car, would it flicker and remind me that I still need more active minutes?
Would it continue to be all up in my business?
Would it still be able to send me an email informing me that it knows what I did?
Would it know, if I stayed home in my pajamas all day to binge watch Sons of Anarchy??
But thanks to my new way of thinking, I would know.
Even when I accidentally leave it on the charger, and get halfway to Zumba before I realize there will be absolutely no record of my activity…
And I think, “should I turn around?”
Does it even count if it’s not Fitbit official?
I know its not just the Fitbit holding me accountable.
Because once it became a part of my life, it also became a presence within me, that holds me accountable from the inside, regardless of its presence on my wrist, on the outside.
And I know, deep down, that I must sally forth secure in the knowledge, that even if my Fitbit doesn’t know that I just ran 5 miles…
I am pretty sure that my body does.