Hey Fitbit: I Am My Own Master

“But which was destroyed, the master or the apprentice?”

-Mace Windu (that dude from Snakes on a Plane) in The Phantom Menace

I have had my Fitbit for less than a week now, but already I’ve managed to find the Dark Side.  In my last post, I talked about how Fitbit was a cruel master.  And it is – if you let it.  There are great things about this handy device, but there are also baaad things about this handy device.  The Good: You are encouraged to take more steps, thus increasing your exercise.  Also it gives you a smiley face.  The Bad: There’s a food log.  And a “calories burned” vs “calories eaten”.  And the opportunity to lose weight by telling it all your dirty secrets so that it can make you feel bad about yourself by making this little gas meter turn to red which signals FAIL just like the red pen in elementary school.  You should also note that red is the color of the evil Darth Vadar’s lightsaber.

Come onnn, it's time to log in your food!

Come onnn, it’s time to log in your food, son!

I’ve found myself logging my input vs output (output as in how much I exercised not how much I pooped though both make a difference in your weight) to be a real chore.  I’ve learned some good things.  Like that every thing in existence, even sodas for crying out loud, have salt in them.  Also sodas pack a lot of calories for a liquid.  So do various desserts.  Now I knew about the calorie part (though the salt part: wtf?) but seeing it right in front of you is different.  Suddenly you have a limited amount you can eat, like someone stranded on a desert island who must make their provisions last.

As someone who is naturally obsessive and neurotic, this is a bad thing.  I find myself thinking about food – too much.  Should I eat this?  How many calories?  It’s not in the freaking database?  Now I have to figure this out myself.  How much time did that take?  Crap, now my blood sugar is in the toilet.  Maybe I’ll puke.  Hey, I could lose weight that way.  Or maybe just not eat much at all cause then I don’t have to walk so much.  Yeah!

Then I stopped for a second and let my brain kick into gear.  Wait a second.  I think I’ve heard of this stuff before.  It’s called a freaking eating disorder.

So I looked up “fitness trackers” and “eating disorders” and ta-da, found several articles about how these wearable fitness devices and cell phone apps are an anorexic’s best pal.  Now they don’t have to keep the log of molecules eaten in their head; it’s right there in their hand 24 hours a day!  And if they eat too many crumbs, they can always exercise more and bing bing look a smiley face!

Not a fatty!  Yay!

Not a fatty! Yay!

Now I’m not saying you should just eat an entire pack of Twinkies and say to heck with it.  Twinkies aren’t worth it – they’re like eating an actual sponge.  But by turning calories into numbers, you lose something.  Like say, the nutritional value.  Sure you can lose weight by subsisting on lettuce, but is that healthy?  No, it’s not worth it.  Especially since lettuce tastes like wet cellophane.

Also calorie counting is taking me a long time.  I told my daughters to wait a minute while I logged in my food.  And then I wondered what message I was sending by doing this.

I thought back to how I heard of this device – David Sedaris.  And I re-read his article.  Not once does he mention diet when describing his obsession.  Just adding a little more walking to each day.  Well, in his case, a lot.  If he’s really taking in 35,000 steps a day, he should have some fractures by now.  I’m gonna leave that to “comedian creative license”.   But my point is, if he obsesses about the food log, he doesn’t say so.  And I don’t see why I have to do so either.

Judge me by my size?  Kick your butt, I will.

Judge me by my size? Kick your butt, I will.

Yes, if I want to lose weight I have to make sure I’m not eating more calories than I am burning.  But what if it’s not just about weight?  Is it not good that I’m taking more steps than I was?  Isn’t every little bit something?  It’s more than I did before.  Fitbit starts you at 10,000 steps a day.  I put myself at 5,000 cause I hate those freaking frowny faces, and have since kindergarten.  Alice don’t do that crap.  Besides, it’s actually a good idea to work your way up, especially if you’re used to exercising as much as I am (as in not at all).  I got a little thrill when my wristband buzzed today.

Fitbit won’t let me remove the food log.  So I hid the little button on the dashboard.  And I’m willing myself not to bring it back.  Fitbit is a tool.  But I am my own master.

Maybe I’m headed back toward the Light Side of the Force.

28 responses

  1. Ohhh, that sounds dangerous in the wrong hands. Also, if you’re using it to lose weight, there should be some allowance for the fact that muscle weighs more than fat. I belonged an athletic club for a year. I worked out religiously three times a week and my weight varied only a small amount. As the fat turned to muscle, I got trimmer but actually ended up heavier by a bit.

    I have some friends that got involved in a weight loss program where you buy the liquids and such and the cleansers. It takes a few weeks and allows a few real meals. You subsist on these “shakes” in between. It applies in cycles and it is not cheap = about $300 per month for the materials. And as much as the users complained about being hungry, those that stuck to it lost a pile of weight fast – over a pound a day for a month or even more if they kept at it. The sales were set up as a sort of pyramid, so each person who sold it got some profit not only on their sales but on the sales of each person they enrolled.. Like Avon. The best could make 3 or 4 thousand dollars a month as their share of their sales. And it always worked and it scared me. I’ve had some health issues that have made me sensitive intellectually to diet so I asked a doctor about these schemes. His response was what I had figured – stay away from them – they work but they drain the body of needed minerals and vitamins and can be dangeous in the long term. Or for thos ewho are weakened, dangerous in the short term.

    Anyway, Alice, all that to say please be careful that you have good nutrition regularly while battling with your Fitbit. We want you healthy and saucy.

    1. Yeah I never trusted those “cleansing” things or the shakes. I do NOT need something like that stuff they make you take before a colonoscopy. That’s like forcing yourself to have Montezuma’s Revenge. Why would you choose to do that? Ew. I did try the slim fast thing years ago, but that’s just stupid cause you’re still hungry and eventually you eat an entire side of a cow.

      And that pyramid crap does sound scary, and should probably be freaking illegal, along with the rest of the diet “industry”. I will try to stay as healthy and saucy as possible, thanks. 🙂

  2. I don’t have a FitBit, but I have a food app on my phone. The longest I’ve used it is a few days. Just don’t have the patience to log everything in, and I agree, one can get too obsessive about it. For some people, it’s a great tool, but it just isn’t my cup of tea. I used to wear a pedometer though. It was cool to track my steps. I’ve thought about getting a FitBit for that reason. Like you, I’d probably hide the food button though.

    1. Yeah, the best thing about it is that it is securely attached to your wrist and you can wear it all day (the sleep tracking thing is kind of cool. Not sure how totally accurate, but it’s interesting.) Before the pedometers either reset themselves, fell off my pants, or I just lost them in the house somewhere. It’s also nice to see the miles walked and be able to compare it to the day before, etc. Walking is a great way to decrease anxiety. Food logging is a great way to increase it, at least for some. So I’ll stick with the walking.

  3. The key is to just lie. That’s what I do with Lose It. I decide on my own that I really don’t need to log the wine because it has electrolytes and then I stay in my calorie range. It’s all science.

    1. Reminds me of when I was in P.E. and they had us measure our resting heart rates and mine was way too high so I just changed it to put it in the normal range. Then it turned out we were all doing the formula wrong anyway. The coach asked, “What do you call someone with a resting heart rate this high???” And I said to my friend, “A bad liar.”

  4. This is the second blog post that I’ve read this week in which someone got a Fitbit after reading the Sedaris essay. Does he have some kind of secret endorsement deal or what?!

    1. Not sure but Fitbit sure as heck used his essay for promotion! What was the other blog post by the way?

  5. Kick that Fitbit’s butt, Alice.

  6. Exactly why you should buy my UP band! There is not calorie counter on it – you have to sync it with My Fitness Pal to get that. Only steps, steps, STEPS! (Actually, I think you can log your food with UP, but I nevah did.)

    1. Sadly, I think the Up will only sync with a smart phone, not a computer like the fitbit. I am one of the only ones left on earth without a smart phone. And they can’t make me get one!

      1. Yeah, I held out as long as I could … now my damn phone is smarter than I! SO annoying! *roll eyes*

  7. Leave that food log alone girl! I have used mine just for tracking steps, and I do log my water, cause I’m really bad at drinking enough and I like to see the little woman fill up with water, and think with satisfaction how HYDRATED I am. Until they make a companion for the fitbit, the foodbit, a tiny device that clips to my esophagus, and tracks my calories automatically, ITS TOO MUCH FREAKING WORK. Also, if you’re doing your walking, shouldn’t you be able to have a donut?

    1. Amen! Glad to know I’m not alone in this. 🙂

  8. Pretty sure I’d have stomped on the damn fitbit by now. That sounds like good exercise.

    1. It’s been tempting but then it lights up so sadly and screams noooo, noooo! Or that might have been because I drank a lot of scotch.

  9. Yeah, food logging sounds like way too much hard work. And very sensible to avoid those juicing diet things – that’s the sure fire way to die of malnutrition and diabetes at the same time, from what I’ve read about it.

    You keep on looking after yourself, Alice, my lovely, and if walking is working, keep on walking! Xxxx

    1. Thanks, Faith. Yes, I do not get the juice thing. I tried Slim-Fast once and was like okay that was yummy now where’s my lunch?

      1. I think I’d be like that on slim fast too. I’m becoming a right pig at times. Fortunately I’d rather walk than get the bus so it’s not yet having much impact. Give me a year or two and it might become a problem though. I find when I’m feeling depressed or stressed, I struggle to eat, which I know is not good in any way, shape or form.

  10. Yipes…True, it can certainly contribute to the development or worsening of an eating disorder. I guess it really does boil down to how one uses stuff like this. Eat food in moderation, use FitBit in a moderate way, too, so to speak…

    1. Yes, moderation – I hear moderation is a good thing.

  11. Okay, I was sort of intrigued about these tiny wrist wizards after Aussa got one, but now I’m even more intrigued. Actually, the comment that mentioned they have a water-intake thingy really interested me, because I suck at water. I’ve done apps before where I have to log all my food and it lasted all of two days. Most annoying thing EVER. I just can’t hang. But the steps and water…..
    So where does one get one of these? Are they expensive? Why am I asking you when I can google it? these are my questions.

    1. You can get the fitbits at Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, Amazon – they’re everywhere pretty much. And there’s a billion different varieties of fitness tracker – I like fitbit because of the website and because it is one of the few that will sync with a computer and not just a smart phone (I am one of the few weirdos without a smart phone).

  12. Awesome, thanks for the info. I went googling and almost hyperventilated. You’re not kidding when you say there are a lot to choose from! And I was wrong, Aussa has the flex, whatever that means. I’m talking with the assumption you know her…..but who doesn’t know Aussa?

  13. I just have an Omron pedometer to get my steps per day up. You get a wee cheering guy if you make 10000. I’ve been using it all year and def walk more now. (If you really want more obsessive walking talk, read my blog post ‘spring in my step’). I don’t do food log and calorie stuff ever. I know what the unhealthy stuff is and when I’ve got the willpower I cut down on the crap. Though I was really freaked last year when I read there was as much salt in a piece of sliced bread as a bag of crisps. We thought it must be a mistake but when we checked all the loaves in the local supermarket we couldn’t believe the salt content. So now I have a bag of crisps for breakfast instead because why not?
    Not really. But I eat more porridge and less toast than I used to.

  14. plentyandenough | Reply

    With a Fitbit, I felt like Frodo and the ring. So, we split!

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