FitBit and the Death of Efficiency

I wonder how long I’ll feel like a crazy person? I’m fighting the blooming of a new mantra, running from the illogical inevitability of my new motto:

Never Do In One Trip What You Can Drag Out Into Three.

I blame Stacy Allen and Dave Sedaris, and Mr.Sedaris only because he reminded me in his wonderful essay in The New Yorker after Stacy played the snake in the Garden a few months back. I could blame myself, but my very least favorite thing in all the world is anything being my fault.

My writer-friend, Stacy, and I roomed at SleuthFest in February, and she dangled the sleek little electronic jewel under my nose. fitbitTruthfully, I don’t think the FitBit got any closer to me than the nightstand between our beds, but still, it’s just one of those things you’ll covet because of its tactile gloss and its sexy little rounded corners. My precioussss.

But then there’s what it does – it counts steps and makes charts of them.

A little over a year and a half ago, my dream came true and, for now, I get to try to be a professional writer. I should be struck by lightning if I’m not thankful. And I am. For everything but the ten extra pounds.

You see, I have become a puppet of inertia. And if the body at rest has an excuse not to fight it, like say a real, grown-up deadline or paid research, then the mouth near the top of that body will say, “I have to sit here all day! I’m busy!” But that brand of busy will conspire with time and your fondness for 10pm snacks and it’s not like your vanity has taken the year off. Just sayin’.

So the FitBit sits there, with its incessant little pressure against your shoulder or hip or wherever you’ve clipped it, reminding you that you’ve become a lump.

You can see it in the graphs on your dashboard – all the nothing your feet have been doing, all the gaps in the progress toward that daily goal and the digital pat on the head for vaulting that number.

Then you start doing crazy stuff like carrying each folded shirt, individually, from the laundry to the drawers. That’s mental, but it’s worth twenty extra steps per roundtrip. (And if you think I didn’t just walk down there to count it off, you’d be wrong. I’m up about sixty steps for that sentence!) The flowers that I planted last weekend don’t change every twenty minutes, but I know that for a fact, not just in concept. The chore of errands has been met in these last few days without dread simply for the prize at the end – the little counter going up and up and up. I pace when I brush my teeth.

I don’t know how long it will last, this mania. And I don’t know what I’ll get to keep from it. But it has inspired me to drink herbal tea instead of crunching munchables in those last hours before bed, and now I hop onto the elliptical machine when I get a phonecall. (I was delighted to find that those steps count!) It feels good. I feel good.

The inertia-devil still lives here, but he seems to be sulking in some undusted corner of my house, although with as many points as I get for puttering, I don’t know where he could be hiding.

I’ll miss the habit when its gone, or maybe I won’t. But right now, I kind of want to take a walk. That can’t be a bad thing.






Author: jamiemason

Wrote THE HIDDEN THINGS, MONDAY'S LIE, and also THREE GRAVES FULL (Simon & Schuster's Gallery Books.) Might write something else if I'm not careful.

3 thoughts on “FitBit and the Death of Efficiency”

  1. You could dig some holes in your garden. It will burn off plenty of calories, and who knows? One day those holes might prove useful.

  2. Jamie,
    Love this post! I will pop a Keurig pod in, and while my coffee is brewing, I can get about 200-250 steps. If I am making my hot air popcorn, it takes about 90 seconds to 2 minutes before it starts popping, so I get more steps in then. It is AMAZING how many steps we can get if we use the tiny pockets of time in our day. It all adds up. I’ll never reach the heights Sedaris does, but I have had plenty of 20,000 step/12-14 mile days. And I’m down nearly 40 lbs. It is feels really good.

  3. There are more productive alternatives – I’ve read about them, but haven’t actually done them. My main exercise lately is a half hour every other day or so on a Lifecycie exercise bike, during which I read with a book on the control panel.

    But what I’ve heard about is called a standing desk. Standing gives you a little more exercise while you’re writing/computing/surfing/whatever. The next step (see what I did there) is a treadmill desk, where you’re slowly walking (or at whatever speed you want) while doing all that writing/computing/surfing. I should really consider this before I get too old…

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