In 2017 my former employer ran a competition to increase our activity levels. Competing in pairs, the goal was to ‘climb Everest’ the fastest, based on the number of steps needed to climb the famed mountain.
As a leader and deeply competitive person, I participated and was paired with a colleague in Sydney. A marathon runner. “Boom, we’ve got this,” I thought.
Wanting my step count to be as accurate as possible, I invested in a FitBit. Not only did it count my steps, it gave me a little buzz if I haven’t met a target number of steps per hour, and measured the volume and quality of my sleep. I’m a data nut so was in absoulte heaven.
Despite my very accurate measurement of steps, we didn’t win. The wining pair got up Everest in about two weeks. Now, I hate to complain, but I do feel that the measurement of steps was wrong – it should have been distance. I say this because the winners were at least a foot shorter than me, meaning that I’d take at least one step for every two of theirs. Anyway, I do need to let that go…. Oh, and my marathon-running partner did just 2,000 more steps than me over a three-week period. I was happy with that.
Anyway the FitBit rapidly became a bit of an obsession. Consciously, then sub-consciously, I would make sure that my left arm – wearing the FitBit – was always swinging when walking. God forbid I take a step that ISN’T counted. Initially, it was really useful in ensuring I was getting in my 15,000 steps a day. But I became a bit obsessive about it. Checking my wrist far more than necessary, refreshing the app to see how much sleep I’d had (clue: never enough) and working out if I was on track to be sufficiently active. I had become a FitBot.
And then, disaster struck. Last week my FitBit died. Absolutely karked it. I was quite anxious for the first day, thinking of all the steps I’d taken but not counted. But slowly I realised how incredibly liberating it was to be free of that completely unnecessary pressure I’d put on myself to meet an arbitrary goal. So here I am, free of my FitBit, taking steps that nobody’s counting and winning at life. It’s been a long time since I’ve been this happy or healthy, and I don’t need any wearable device or app to tell me that: it’s in my soul.