My husband says to note this is his step count at 7 a.m. (He’s lying but let’s go with it.) (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)

My husband says to note this is his step count at 7 a.m. (He’s lying but let’s go with it.) (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)

Column: Pondering fitness and the Fitbit conundrum

I think it was 2012 when I got my first Fitbit. I could go back and fact check but it wouldn’t really add anything to this story so let’s just go with it. Suffice it to say, I was an early adopter.

I had been gearing up to get back in shape after what I call “the fat years”, the darkish decade I spent in between being a varsity athlete in university and the time I realized I needed to get back to the gym for my own sanity more than anything else. Also I needed to lose some weight so that, when the time was right, I could turn around and gain a ton of baby weight… oh, I mean have a healthy pregnancy.

Because I’m weird, I can’t do math but I really like statistics. Having a Fitbit to track my steps and tell me if I’d walked up enough flights of stairs was a glorious addition to my data-keeping routine.

And what the Fitbit said was law.

There’s a load of laundry that needs to come up from the basement? I’ll get it. That’s 120 steps AND a flight of stairs. Totally worth it. We need a green pepper for dinner, you say? No problem, I’m on it. That’s 500 steps to the corner market and 500 steps back. That’s one-tenth of my daily minimum of 10,000 right there!

Never mind the years and years of research, the doctors and fitness professionals telling us to get up out of our office chairs and up off the couch and get moving. They held no power over me. That tiny little tracker clipped into my pocket though, it became my master. And very quickly it controlled the lives of those around me. My sister got one, then my friend. Then my parents. Then even my husband got on board.

Life became all about “getting steps”. Members of my family would walk at random intervals at all hours to “get their steps in.” It became commonplace to have a conversation with somebody as they walked laps around the kitchen island or jogged on the spot to “get their steps.”

It’s a weird thing, that power a Fitbit has over you, but for better or worse it made us all become more active. Many people I know have since abandoned them because they were becoming too obsessed. It was a compulsion. It’s a great tool, if you use it as just a tool. I do not recommend letting it rule your world, however, otherwise you’ll be wearing a hole in the carpet of your upstairs hallway because that’s the longest stretch of walking space in your house at 11 p.m. on a weeknight when you need 1,500 more steps and your kids are asleep… or you’ll be lacing it into your sneakers at spin class so that it tracks the revolutions so you don’t “waste your workout.”

Truth be told, I abandoned my Fitbit at the end of 2016. I have an Apple Watch now, and to my delight I am able to collect a lot more statistical details from it. But I’m the boss now.

These days, now that it’s light out longer, I sometimes go out for a walk after my kids are in bed. I’m not going to lie, I’m still mindful of my stats, but I usually just go out to get some fresh air and to clear my head. Now that I’m a mom of two small children, I have no problem getting in my daily 10,000. And I don’t need a tracker to tell me that.