Fitbit: Fame or Fib?

By January 15, 2020 January 16th, 2020 Fitness Fun, Group X, Membership, Personal Training, Wellness

This article was written by Kristin Lapp.  Kristin is a Courts Plus Member that attends group exercise classes and trains with Jamie Smith.

Oh Fitbit, how could I have ever guessed where you would take me.

About three years ago, I purchased a Fitbit so that I could participate in work wellness challenges.  I didn’t like things on my wrist at the time, so I opted for the little one I could clip to my waistband.  Maybe this little device was just what I needed to get my rear in gear.

I had recently started exploring different fitness classes, such as barre, pole fitness, and had even taken my first ever spin class.  This little thing was the last little push I needed – I mean, who doesn’t like a little friendly competition among coworkers, right?

The first team challenge we had, my whole team committed to 10,000 steps a day.  Holy crap, I struggled getting 9,000 so how the heck was I going to get 10,000??  Luckily, it was spring time and getting warmer out, plus I lived in lakes country, so I had plenty of roads to walk on and beautiful scenery.  It turned out that 10,000 wasn’t too hard.

I started off with walking.  Walking turned to intermittent jogging.  Jogging turned to running.  And at the age of 35, I ran my very first mile…ever.  Not only was it one mile, I ran three.  All of the sudden, running was my escape and I loved it.

You know what came along with running?  Weight loss.  That was a fun side effect.  Fast-forward a year or so and I was running five to seven miles daily and had lost over 100 pounds.  I would like to note that this weight loss was not all rainbows and butterflies.  Along with it came anxiety, stress, hair loss, an unhealthy relationship with food, and the pressure to now keep it off – that could be an entirely different entry.

It was time to maintain the weight loss.  Ten thousand steps a day wouldn’t do it anymore and focusing on the number of steps I got every day became my new obsession.  This little device started to dictate every aspect of my life – social, mental, physical…  Here are some examples of just how extreme it got:

  • I had a 50 minute commute to work every day. On more than one occasion, I forgot to clip that little thing on my pants and  I turned around after driving more than 30 minutes to get it – because if I wasn’t wearing it, nothing I did that day would count.
  • Holidays? My biggest concern was how I was going to get my steps in while I was out of town and it was cold out.  It made me so anxious that I would be sick to my stomach the whole week before
  • Social life? Rarely did I do anything because I needed to get my steps in.  Of course, that isn’t what I would tell people, but that was the real reason.  The same went for friends wanting to grab lunch – I would go, if we could walk there; otherwise, I’d miss my lunch walk.
  • I would be up at 4am to go to the gym before work and then be up until midnight doing whatever I had to do to get to my step goal.
  • On Saturday mornings, I would run five to seven miles, attend a high intensity strength training class or boot camp, and polish it off with a XaBeat cardio dance class. I would have 20,000 steps in before I left the gym at 11am (I’d start off around 7am).  That gave me the rest of the day to get the remaining 10,000 steps I needed.

Did you do the math there?  My daily step goal was 30,000 steps.  EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.  For the better part of a year, this was my goal.  It didn’t matter if I spent an hour weight training or doing a boot camp or HIIT class.  Those didn’t give me sufficient steps, so while I did them often, I then made up the steps by running, dancing, or going on the elliptical.  My Fitbit trained my brain to believe that only steps counted since steps and distance were really all my basic little device would track.  It didn’t track strength training (or even biking for that matter), so while I did those regularly, and probably excessively, they weren’t tracked so it didn’t count.  I needed steps.

Throughout the year while this was happening, I knew it was irrational – so don’t feel bad if you’re rolling your eyes, but I couldn’t stop.  I was so afraid of gaining any weight back.  I couldn’t stop thinking that if I didn’t hit those goals I would gain 40 pounds over night or that the boogeyman would get me.  Ok, so maybe I wasn’t concerned with the latter, but looking back, they are equally ridiculous.

In September, I began working with a personal trainer.  I needed help.  I didn’t need help learning how to work out or to start a workout program.  I needed help with my obsession.  I needed to learn that 30,000 steps isn’t necessary.  That two to three hours a day at the gym wasn’t necessary.  To start to work on where I am weakest, instead of only focusing on my strengths.  It’s led to incredibly positive changes.

Well, a couple of weeks ago, the unthinkable happened.  My Fitbit died and I didn’t have a backup battery on hand and didn’t have a chance to go buy one immediately.  And guess what?  I didn’t die.  The boogeyman didn’t get me.  I didn’t gain 40 pounds back.  I could still workout without that little device, calories were still being burned.  I didn’t need it.  After a couple of days without it, with the help of my trainer (mostly I needed a witness), that little black tracker in a purple silicone clip was thrown in the garbage.

It was one of the best things I have done.  I feel free.  I still workout, maybe more than the normal person some days.  I still really fear gaining weight back (I have gained some, and it’s a struggle).  But, I am living without being dictated by these little superficial numbers.  I go out with friends – or just sit on the couch and relax.  I take rest days.  My focus is now on making me feel better and stronger and not depending on my Fitbit to determine how I should feel.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  Fitness trackers can be incredible (full disclosure, I do wear a Garmin watch, but it is more so for tracking runs and acting as the ringer on my phone) and I regret nothing.  I can’t, I learned too much from my 3 year journey.  I’m grateful for it.  I’m also grateful that I was able to find the help I needed to allow me to get rid of it.

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