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Slave to the Fitbit


September 17, 2014

I set out from work with an unusual mission. I was not headed to the subway. No no, there would be none of that wimpy stuff for me on this late summer evening. I was going to walk the 50-plus blocks home.

The sun was setting in the distance, and it was a lovely evening. But that wasn’t why I was going to walk. Truth is, I needed the steps. Desperately. You see, I was (am) deep in a step counting contest with my father and I am losing. Badly.

This all started with my dad receiving a Fitbit® as a gift. A Fitbit is a pedometer (step counter) that uses some sort of internal accelerometer gadgetry to measure and record how many steps you take in a given day. It is set to push (encourage) you to take 10,000 and climb 10 flights of stairs.

It also ranks your last seven days of steps—a whole week’s worth—against your friends, which brings out the friendly competitor in all of us—urging you to walk more.

You can also input the food you eat, and it can track your sleep cycle—all of this in the name of a healthier lifestyle. My dad gave it rave reviews. He told me he was walking more than ever, gaining more stamina and losing weight.

A lightbulb in my mind went off after a tuck-in of my shirt over my own growing belly. I have gradually been pulling myself back from the heaviest I’ve ever been. I had been mentioning this to my dad when he visited me in the city (looking thinner than ever) and he sent me a Fitbit for my birthday. I was hooked almost immediately.

I was excited as I set off on a week of as many steps as I could manage. I quickly found myself walking almost everywhere, including the 50-plus blocks home from work… on lovely late summer evenings... one step in front of the next... checking the Fitbit for the number of steps every few minutes and enjoying even more when I could time the press of the button to see them update live. Step. By. Step.

Suddenly, walking had a purpose. It actually counted. Getting from place to place became secondary. My best day was 22,000. I was still trailing my dad but closing in.

That weekend Emily and I were heading to a wedding, and before we left I felt my pocket and my Fitbit was gone. (The horror.) I had forgotten to take it out of my pants when I changed them. I ripped through the pants I had been wearing. No luck. I bounded across the room to search the nightstand. Lamenting each step I took without the Fitbit in my pocket. What a waste!