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.
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!
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.
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.