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Published on January 24, 2016

Confessions of a competitive, Fitbit fanatic

Confessions of a competitive, Fitbit fanatic

The second I saw an actual Fitbit in action, I was intrigued. My husband Steve invited me to lunch with his cooking class at the Yarmouth Senior Center, and Stephen Kessler of Dennis showed me how his Fitbit worked. He also showed me how it syncs with an iPhone and the way to challenge others in contests like the Workweek Hustle, Weekend Warrior or Daily Showdown.

I couldn’t wait to get one for Christmas. Steve said he wanted to walk more, so I bought one for him, too. My husband has always been a fairly competitive guy, so I thought the challenges would spur him on.

What I didn’t realize was that I was pretty competitive, too! It started on Christmas morning. Steve had his Fitbit charged and on his wrist an hour before me. I fretted about how many steps he accumulated in that hour that I was playing with the grandkids – and not recording my steps!

Energized by our new toys, we took a walk in Nickerson State Park in Brewster on Christmas Day. I logged 13,842 steps that day and the strange little trophies began flooding my cellphone. I got the sneakers badge for 10,000 steps in one day, the urban boot for 15,000 steps in one day and the Redwood Forest for climbing 25 floors in one day.

Fitbit is nothing if not encouraging. Messages like “that step goal was no match for Laurie H!” along with a little buzz on the wrist when you meet your daily goal are weirdly compelling.

Our granddaughter, Marianne, also got a Fitbit for Christmas and I soon learned the folly of trying to compete with a 10-year-old. As I was checking my email the next morning, she was running up and down the staircase behind me. I was exhausted just watching her, but still managed 11,279 steps.

Day 3 brought my lowest step count thus far: 6,470 steps. It didn’t take long for us to realize that 10,000 steps is a lot more than we typically walked on an average day. How on earth could anyone work a job and somehow still fit in 10,000 steps – every single day?

That’s when the “cheats” came into play. I discovered that rocking my infant granddaughter miraculously racked up steps. Steps while sitting! Determined to win the weekly challenge, I did not share this information with anyone.

The following Sunday, I walked into the living room and saw my husband waving his arm around as he sat in his recliner watching football. He had figured out that waving his Fitbit arm counted as steps. “It’s still movement,” he said, a bit defensively.

He had a point. Studies show that even fidgeting can be beneficial to your health. Movement of any kind is a good thing.

Our brains are funny things. It doesn’t take long before you start trying to please the wristband more than you want to get in shape. Do steps even count if you aren’t wearing your Fitbit?

Waving arms explained why I wrack up steps a lot faster when dancing than walking. On my personal best day of 15,460 steps, in addition to taking a walk with Steve in the afternoon, I danced in the kitchen for about 45 minutes after dinner. Did I look ridiculous? You bet. Did I take the highest step count of the day? Yep.

In the meantime, our son-in-law joined the challenge. His company’s insurance policy had given him a Fitbit but he didn’t actually use it until the rest of us got one. Suddenly Rick was in the game.

So far, 10-year-old Marianne and I are always in first and second place in our group. The guys just aren’t as motivated – or obsessed. If I’m down on my step count for the day, I’ll grab a flashlight and go for a walk after dinner even if it’s freezing out. My husband has not felt inclined to join me yet. Even the dogs now eye me warily when they see the flashlight.

Marianne has taken the challenge to an almost alarming degree. She now paces while watching television and walks in squares at stoplights. I can relate. I now pace when talking on the phone and I walk in place when our dogs stop to do their business. No sense standing still when you can be racking up steps!

Whether this is just a fad that will pass or a lasting obsession, it’s hard to say. But in any case I now know what 10,000 steps actually looks like and I currently average 12,000 steps a day, just a thousand steps behind Marianne’s average and 3,000 steps above Steve and Rick, both of whom are actually showing improvement.

I recently saw Fitbit bling in the form of sterling silver slides that make it look more like a bracelet. Guess what I want for Valentine’s Day?


We want to hear from you! Are you like Laurie and in love with your fitness device? How are you using wearables to motivate yourself and loved ones towards better health? Comment below or join us over on Facebook to share your tips and advice.