Well, the deed is done. Last Saturday morning, I finally broke up with my Fitbit. It had been a long time coming and the telltale signs were all there — my connection to the device had grown weaker, my goals and beliefs had changed, I found myself making less and less of an effort to get in my daily steps and I felt like I really didn’t have that much of an appreciation for it anymore. We had a good run (lots of them, actually) and I determined that I wasn’t benefiting from the relationship any longer. So, in the early morning hours on February 26th, two days after Elyse’s 10th birthday, I replaced my once trusty Fitbit Versa with the $20 Armitron that Amazon delivered to my doorstep in less than 24 hours. The teal and silver Armitron Women’s Sport watch, which now graces my left wrist, doesn’t track steps or heart rate or calories burned. This simple, water-resistant timepiece just tells me the date and time. Its most robust features are the stopwatch, backlight, alarm and ability to easily convert to military time. That’s it, folks.
So, why did I feel the need to ditch the Fitbit? I realized that it wasn’t serving me any longer. In fact, it was actually taking over my life in a weird way. As a former marathoner, hardcore exercise enthusiast and Type A personality, I had become obsessed with ensuring that I got in a certain number of steps every single day. And if I was falling behind in my daily step goal, I would do anything possible (i.e. walk around my house, jog in place, etc.) until I reached said goal. My obsession to accumulate a particular number of steps (and, ultimately, calories) began interfering with other goals that I’ve been trying to achieve — mainly my desire to write on a regular basis, as it’s not easy to formulate compelling prose when you’re completely wiped out mentally and physically.
Lately, I’ve also been experiencing more aches and pains than usual. I attributed some of my pain and fatigue to the colder than normal winter we’ve been having in the DC-area, but when I took a good, hard look in the mirror, I realized that my obsession with beating my Fitbit goals, along with my ambitious exercise routine, were actually to blame. You see, since 2016 (perhaps even longer), I’ve been suffering from exercise-induced autoimmune flare-ups. Last winter, I developed severe sciatica pain in my left leg and it took almost six months to heal. But, in order to relieve the pain, I had to stop running — one of my favorite forms of cardio. Thankfully, I’ve been able to steer-clear of any major sciatic pain this winter, but two weeks ago, I developed a painful knot in my upper back — this time on my right side. The pain has been almost debilitating at times and prompted Taylor and I to go out and purchase a new Sleep Number bed, which I’m beyond excited about by the way. Why am I telling you all of this? It’s just to illustrate that I’ve finally come to a point in my adult life where intense exercise and step tracking can no longer be such high priorities and I need to make some changes and adjustments — or else suffer further injuries and bouts of pain. Hence, the Fitbit had to go.
When I first began running, I was 14 and trying to lose weight so that the boy I had a crush on would notice me. Almost 30 years later, I’ve learned that exercise doesn’t necessarily have to be goal-directed — at least from a point of view rooted in vanity. As much as I love a good burn and the post-workout glow found in a sweaty selfie, my body can’t handle the stress any longer. Joints that never bothered me before are hurting and I’ve found that I’m exhausted, instead of energized, after satisfying my compulsion to get in 10K steps before 8 a.m. Crazy I know, but when the world isn’t right, it’s hard to be right in your own mind.
It’s been almost a week since I took off my Fitbit and stopped obsessively looking at a step counter. When I took that watch off, it felt like I was relieving my body of a 1,000 pound weight. Instead of relying on a tracking device, I’m becoming more mindful and aware of my movements throughout the day. If I sense that I’ve been sitting for too long and my muscles feel stiff and rigid, I get up and do some light stretching or housework. Once the weather warms up a bit more, I’ll take a short walk around my neighborhood to relieve some of the tension. I do have an updated fitness plan in-mind, but it’s heavily-rooted in intuition and mindfulness, not contrived tracking and arbitrary step and/or calorie goals. Right now, it’s past noon and I have no idea how many steps I’ve taken. I do know that I feel more calm, centered and alert — alert enough to get this Thursday Thought composed and published, which is a win in my book.
Breaking up with my Fitbit was for the best. Maybe like Ross and Rachel, we’re just on a break. Who really knows? All I can say is that I’m just taking this situation one step at a time and hoping that each step takes me closer to my ultimate, word-count, not -step-induced, goal. And as I get ready to hit that Publish button, I’m feeling pretty certain that I’m finally headed in the right direction this time.