Fitness

An accidental (and happy) vacation from my Fitbit

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I accidentally took a Fitbit vacation and it has been swell.

a photo of a gravel path through grass-covered ground leading between some trees. The sky above is light blue and a a large fluffy cloud is glowing golden pink from the sunset.
This photo from my Sunday evening walk (sans Fitbit) was taken near my house but it has a real vacation-y feel to it, don’t you think? Image description: a gravel path through grass-covered ground leading between some trees. The sky above is light blue and a a large fluffy cloud is glowing golden pink from the sunset.

Normally, I love my Fitbit.

I love the reminders to get moving. I love the fact that it tracks my steps and my heart rate and all kinds of other stuff without me having to remember to write any of it down. I love how having a timer on my wrist can help anchor me to the flow of actual time -instead of to inside-my-brain-time, an often-entirely-too-fluid concept.

But, I also get frustrated when my perceived effort doesn’t match what my Fitbit has recorded.

Or when my steps don’t register.

Or how an hour of exercise might be recorded as 10 or 20 or 60 active minutes, or, oddly, even more depending on some mysterious calculation…

GIF of a group aerobics class led by Richard Simmons.
I can only assume that Mr. Simmons and team are all maximizing their active minutes here. Image description: a GIF of a group aerobics class led by Richard Simmons. The participants are all wearing bright clothing and seem to be having a great time. One participant in the back is even wearing a cheerleading uniform.

Ok, the calculation is not all that mysterious, it’s based on whether I am in a cardio or ‘fat burn’ heart rate range but it *feels* arbitrary and I can never tell during my exercise how it will show up on my Fitbit.

Now, to be clear/fair, the Fitbit is operating exactly as it was designed and it can only measure so much from my wrist. The fact that it doesn’t hover around me like a omniscient fitness tracking entity is not its fault.

But it’s still annoying to have been working away for a long time only to have my tracker say ‘Meh, that didn’t count.’

ANYWAY!

Last week, on my first day of vacation, I was packing my bag before heading out to visit a friend of mine* in a town a few hours away and I realized that my Fitbit was still on the charger.

I grabbed the Fitbit and the charger and chucked them both into the bag with my art supplies. They settled to the very bottom of the bag where they stayed for the two days I was hanging out with my friend and for the several days since.

It’s not that I forgot about my Fitbit, it’s that I quickly realized how much I was enjoying not wearing it.

My vacation from work had also become a vacation from my Fitbit.

I went for walks, did some decluttering (lots of heavy lifting and trips up and down the stairs), went on a bike ride, did yoga, and meditated daily, all without any information on how long I was moving (or sitting in meditation), how intense my workout was, how many ‘active minutes’ I had so far, or what my heart rate was during any of those things.

And it felt great – I felt like I was moving a lot and working hard and there was no evidence to suggest otherwise.

 a photo of someone’s hand pointing to a cork board covered in photos and maps related to a crime.
How I imagine my Fitbit would present the evidence of my activities. image description: a photo of someone’s hand pointing to a cork board covered in photos and maps related to a crime.

Now, I know that the Fitbit is not the boss of me. I know that there are all kinds of aspects of exercise and fitness that it doesn’t measure (enjoyment and perceived effort are just two of those unmeasured things.) And I know that it’s just providing me with information – it’s up to me to interpret it and to decide what to do with it.

And, overall, my Fitbit has definitely helped me to move more and to work a bit harder. It has shown me that I may not always be getting as much exercise as I think I am – very useful information for my ADHD brain that responds well to good exercise conditions but sometimes misjudged whether I am meeting those conditions.

But this vacation away from tracking has helped highlight how often I was getting annoyed with some of the ways that my Fitbit tracks things and how often my interpretations of the information it provides have been frustrating me. And that, in itself, is useful information.

As of now, I’m still on my Fitbit vacation (and my vacation from work) but when I come back, I’m planning to figure out if/when/how to use my Fitbit in a way that serves me better.

I don’t know if that will mean wearing it less often, choosing different metrics/interpretations, or if I will just use it as a handy timer/reminder tool and forget the steps and heart rate info altogether.

Meanwhile…back to my vacation!

*By happy coincidence, it is my friend’s birthday today. Happy Birthday, J! 🧡💚

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