my five-day fling with FitBit

Disclaimer: I know millions of Americans, a few whom I dearly love, enthusiastically rely on FitBit to count steps and monitor activity in the spirit of accountability. While [spoiler alert] this method didn’t work for me personally, my intent is not to disparage anyone’s efforts, merely to share my own experience.

As the clock ticked in the new year, I decided to change how I quantify fitness goals. Two years out from a devastating ankle break that still leaves me stiff in the mornings, with shooting pain up the inner leg on cold days or if I happen to step funny, the time feels right to get back into the routine I had before black ice pulled me down. My best friend had just bought a new FitBit and talked me into doing the same.

The piece arrived on January 4th, a day I spent in bed with a killer cold. The 127 steps I took consisted primarily of dragging my body from bed to kitchen to bathroom to bed. But I didn’t fret over failure, filled with confidence I’d move my body more the next day.

And I did.

For the next five days, I wore that FitBit religiously as I set about meeting my real 2018 goals that have nothing to do with steps: 100 yoga, fifty barre, and 40 spin classes. (Note: 2014 Chelsea would have been able to hit the spin goal in a month but 40 classes is 37 more than 2017 Chelsea accomplished.)

At first it was fun to watch the steps add up. Given I work from home, I appreciated the hourly reminder to get up and move. But I got frustrated when steps didn’t sync with the corresponding app I constantly monitored on my phone. One night, I marched in my kitchen at 10pm; earlier in the evening, I’d done a barre-bike double. Seriously, I took an hour-long barre class and a 45-minute indoor cycling class but still felt compelled to walk in place before bed to make an arbitrary step goal.

The kicker came when after an intensive hot yoga class, sweat dripping in my eyes, I checked the FitBit app and realized I didn’t get credit for an activity hour. But driving home in the car, swinging my FitBit wearing arm up and down as I sat in bumper to bumper traffic, I managed to cheat meet that hour’s goal.

Swipe left.

Here’s the thing: FitBit increased my screen time. FitBit messed with my head. For example, I learned that I burn more calories teaching a barre class than taking one. So should I take more classes or teach more classes? But then again, I’m not a calorie counter either and I never will be. And steps? How is marching in my kitchen or swinging my arm better than barre or hot yoga? Who decided 10,000 steps was the gold standard? (This article was particularly illuminating.) FitBit made me competitive in an unhelpful (bordering  on unhealthy) way.

If it works for you, bravo. But I packed mine up and returned to sender. With the Amazon credit back on my birthday gift card, I bought books, which rarely make me feel bad about myself.

 

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On New Year’s Day

I sneezed my way through leading a yoga class on intention setting today, while procrastinating committing to my own. First I needed the right markers to set myself up for success. And the elusive perfect journal. After much deliberation, the pens, I ordered. While I remain indecisive on the book to hold 2018, I feel my intentions taking shape.

Writing. I’m going bold: I want a book deal in 2018. In yoga, we put intentions in the present tense to plant the seed, so in other words: I am a published author. To manifest this goal, I have work to do. I can’t meditate my way to publishing, but visualization is an important motivational tool I use each morning. I see the book in print. I feel the weight in my hands. Envision myself at Politics and Prose, reading to a friendly audience of family and friends. In response to the omnipresent D.C. question what do you do I respond, “I’m a novelist.”

Wellness. Time to get back in the fitness saddle. Forty spin classes may not seem like a lot compared to what I used to achieve, but it’s 38 more than I took in 2017. To that tally, I’m adding 100 yoga classes—as student, not teacher. Teach. Take. Absorb. Grow. Sign up for a silent retreat. Namaste.

Wit. Life—or rather, the world around it—feels heavy right now. In 2018, I vow to laugh more, spread the light, and open my heart to possibilities. I resolve to spend more time with friends. Take more outings with the boys. Get outside, no matter the season or the weather. Furthermore, I want to stop gripping onto narratives I create in my head. As I say when I teach: relax the shoulders. Did I mention laugh?

And that’s all she wrote. For now…