If you asked me 3 yeas ago what I thought about the Fitbit, I would have said it was ingenious. Ask me now and I’d give you a completely different adjective…
When I first heard of the FitBit three years ago, my reaction was, “OK, it’s a pedometer for the 21st century, big deal!”
Then after feeling like I was the only person in the world not racking their activity level (God forbid), I bought one.
I bought a FitBit for 2 very justifiable reasons:
I was a new mom and getting into the gym to do my pre-child exercise routine was next to impossible. I also felt like a lazy slug and thought the FitBit would provide a way to quantify my out-of-gym activity in order to ease my “you’re-doing-nothing” guilt.
The fitness studio I was working at was big on the whole 10,000 steps per day thing and most of my clients already had some type of wearable activity tracker.
From the moment I opened the box, I was hooked on my FitBit.
Not only did this little device track my steps, it also totaled my distance, counted the flight of stairs I climbed and rated the quality of my sleep. But the feature I loved the most was how it enabled me to see all my clients’ activity levels (only if they decided to add me to their “friends” in the FitBit App – which some of them opted out of... no surprise).
The FitBit turned the walks with my newborn son into something much more. On the days that I was busy at work and on my feet for most of the day, I eagerly anticipated the flood of accomplishment and pride awaiting me in evening when I looked at my FitBit’s display face for the 80th time; taking note of my steps, calories, and mileage for the day. But on the days I was stuck behind a computer or sitting with my son for most of the day, a feeling of guilt and embarrassment would bubble up in my stomach and looking at a number nowhere close to 10,000 made me feel pretty hypocritical for a personal trainer.
I continued to wear my FitBit for a year until the main button broke off and it stopped working. I immediately emailed their customer support and within a week, a brand new Fitbit was delivered to my doorstep. I couldn’t wait to get it set up and working again! The week without it felt like I was free falling. I had no idea if I had had a good day or a bad day. I had no idea if my activity was enough or if I was sleeping properly. I had no idea if I was burning sufficient calories or if I was being a lazy slug. I eagerly began to open the package but then stopped short as I took a moment to think about what I was actually going to reintroduce into my life.
-Feelings of inadequacy on the days I was under 10,000 steps
-Feelings of embarrassment and shame when my clients’ step total was way ahead of my own.
-Feeling the overwhelming need to count my calories and then match my calories consumed with my calories burned
-Insidious feelings of anxiety on the days I forgot to wear my Fitbit
- Valuing the accomplishment 10,000 steps to the point where it became a source of self-esteem and self worth.
After a long pause, I returned my new Fitbit back into its box and placed the box up on a shelf in the living room.
This little device, no bigger than my thumb, had stolen my ability to listen to and trust my own body. I had allowed the Fitbit to induce all kinds of negative emotions as well as rely on it to give me a sense of self worth and self-pride.
I was in a codependent relationship and it was time to break-up.
So if you ask me now, what I think about the Fitbit you can imagine what I would say. But do I think that the Fitbit or all fitness trackers for that matter are horrible and no one in their right mind should wear one?
We all bring different past experiences to the table and with my history, using something like the Fitbit is understandably not a good idea, but that isn’t to say that everyone will react in the same way. However, I encourage you to pay attention to your instinctive reactions when you’re tracking your steps, sleep, distance, posture, calories, ect. Like a hammer, these activity trackers are a tool that can be used for great good or great bad; A hammer can help construct amazing, beautiful buildings or it can break windows or even kill another human being depending on how it’s being used.
In the end, your body is still ranked number one as the most reliable and most authentic app. So don’t be afraid to listen to it more often than the incessant buzzing or beeping of whatever wearable device you may be tempted to call your best friend.