The Fitbit dictator


About 14 months ago, our son gave me a Fitbit device as a present. He did this because I had spent time, apparently too much, bemoaning that I had to walk more for my old joints, lose some weight, and get better sleep.

So now I wear this tracking device that helps me achieve all those goals. It counts my steps and during waking hours, encourages me to move by buzzing on my wrist at ten til the hour if I haven’t walked at least 250 steps that hour. That’s so wonderful. And so annoying.

What happens is that typically I don’t get buzzed. But heaven forbid I have settled down with a blanket to watch a Hallmark movie I taped in December. After 50 minutes, my wrist buzzes. I should, I know, shut off the movie, get up, and walk outside. All you slim, fit people know that’s what I should do. I’m hoping that some of you folks relate to me shoving off the blanket and pacing around my chair, eyes glued to the television. No matter how it’s achieved, I usually reach my goal steps by nightfall.

This device is also, again thanks to our son, linked to my phone. This allows an analysis of my steps, activity levels, and sleep patterns. For reasons that only the creators of this technology understand, I can do two loads of laundry, load the dishwasher, take two trash cans to the curb, pay bills, and dust three rooms without logging a single minute of “activity.” Taking the dog for a stroll in our woods? That counts as 20 minutes of activity. But none of that registers as “exercise.” If going grocery shopping isn’t exercise, then I’m in serious trouble.

About that sleep analysis. I set my personal goal as eight hours a night. After reviewing the log for a few months, I realized that this was unattainable. I reset it to 7 ½ hours a night. I’ve achieved that goal exactly once in eight months. I’m now resetting it to 7 hours, in the hopes of the device giving me a little display of balloons and fireworks once in a while. The device also gives me a rating (it grades my sleep), so sometimes I get a “fair” and sometimes I get a “good,” but I’ve never seen any other rating. It doesn’t seem to matter if I sleep 4 hours or 7 hours, I get either “fair” or “good.” Also, it appears I get very little “deep” sleep – yes, it tracks awake time, light sleep, REM sleep, and deep sleep. What a cool trick.

Now, this device will also track my food and water intake, if I want it to do so. I’ve adamantly stayed away from this feature. I don’t want a buzz on my wrist that it’s time for a glass of water. And I’m seriously concerned that if I enter that little bag of chips I ate, it will give me an electric shock! My Fitbit is a bit of a dictator!

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