With the new year comes the new
resolve. With the new resolve came the Fitbit.
After knee replacement surgery last
year I was given a painkiller that made me constantly nauseous. That
took care of the first ten pounds I needed to lose real quick. Since
it was awhile before I could swallow anything other than saltines and
water, my eating habits changed dramatically. No more night owl
snacks. The thought of ice cream became repellent. Fruit pies were
the only sweet I could tolerate. Smaller portions were all I could
Then came the lunch when the Fitbit
Five sisterhood was launched. The three friends we joined for an uber
calorie feast introduced us to their Fitbit Zips, the most
irresistible little health gadgets my sweetheart and I had ever seen.
One friend described the color of her case as Kermit green. The femme
friend had pink. The third friend, a university professor, was still
debating about color, which seemed appropriate. I decided I must have
the Cookie Monster Blue version. Those are not manufacturer color
names, but they should be.
Our Fitbits go everywhere with us—they
have to if we want them monitoring our steps. Forgetting to switch a
Fitbit from lounge pants to jeans, from jeans to dress pants, can
reach the proportions of epic tragedy: lost steps, lost mileage,
despair at our human failings. Yes, Fitbit Fanatics Anonymous is
Sweetheart (Kermit green) discovered
that one of our neighbors, slim as she is, uses a Fitbit (femme
pink). You’ll see the three of us huddling on the street, pulling
on our pockets, comparing progress. The neighbor always has more
steps than we do, as does the Fitbit Five member whose professional
life involves near-constant walking and who, strangely, hikes long
distances for fun. Which only goes to prove that you can be a writer
or you can stay in shape as you age. I have to set an alarm on my
computer to remind me to get up and move around.
One of the neat things that can be done
with Fitbits—and the dozens of other fitness trackers now out on
the market—is connecting with sister Fitbitters on the Fitbit
website. I can see all of the Fitbit Five’s daily step totals.
(It’s actually the Fitbit Seven now, but #6 and #7 haven’t gone
public with their steps.) Our dashboards give us inspiration.
Does it work, this virtual communal
exercising? I think using our smart toys creates a kind of
mindfulness (fitfulness?) about our bodies. We’re all busy dykes,
but the little thingamajig, and the friends who are in this with me,
encourage me to take care myself. I’ve removed another 23 pounds of
weight since that initial ten. My outlook on life is sunnier because,
to accrue a respectable amount of steps each day, I walk outside at
least two miles most days. In gloomy weather I’ll ride the
exercycle. Biking, household chores, exercises and yard work are all
logged and juggled automatically to provide feedback. So, the Five
joke, you can clip the Zip to your sleeve and up your step count
while brushing your teeth.
Of course, none of us cheat
(intentionally—you know who you are!). Especially not when we log
calories. I was shocked, shocked, I tell you, by one Fitbit Five
exchange in which there was mention of potato chips served in a salad
bowl counting as salad. Especially if the dip is called dressing.
As New York Time tech columnist David
Pogue wrote in The Scientific American (Dec 16, 2014), “These
devices are succeeding not because of their scientific qualities but
because of their motivational ones.” I find it just plain
encouraging to sync with a computer and see that I’ve been
successful at using more calories than I’ve consumed.
There are disappointing days. The
winter holidays are so busy, the dreariness of early darkness so
wearing, the wet cold weather creates such physical tension, it’s
hard to get up and go. Then there are times like today. My sweetheart
and I found ourselves in a nearby town and walked while there. We
hadn’t counted on the temptation posed by the restaurants down at
the port. We surrendered to the five-table hot dog joint that
surprised us with cooked-to-order barbeque with fresh coleslaw and
slow-cooked beans and fries that tasted like actual potatoes. So we
ate all the calories we’d walked, but, our electronic calorie
stalker kept us in line the rest of the day.
Fitness devices may be as much of a
craze as Instagram, Ugg boots, and Gangnam Style, but I am wearing
the clothes that have trekked across the country and back, begging me
to slim down so they could be worn again. My beloved workshirts! My
carpenter cords! My denim shorts!
Today brought an email from Fitbit the
company, announcing two new wristbands. The product names are as
appealing as their looks, but my little Cookie Monster Blue Zip, the
least expensive, least obtrusive, most basic of them all, will remain
my constant companion, my guide, my little bit of fun on the road to
better health. Oh, and it’ll stomp the brake on my reawakening
[Editor's Note: Lee Lynch is the author
of over 13 books. Her latest, An
American Queer, is available for pre-order.
You can reach Lynch at LeeLynch@ontopmag.com]
Copyright 2015 Lee Lynch.