The goals, constant reminders, and insight about each day’s activity level leave me feeling anxious and inadequate.
It was 11:16 PM. I had met my exercise and standing goals for the day, but I was fifty calories below the day’s move goal. I had one unclosed ring, and I needed to close it. My entire day’s value was resting upon that ring.
Naturally, I laced up my running shoes, turned on my workout playlist, and began a cardio circuit to quickly burn those last few calories for the day.
Midway through me skipping across the length of our house, my husband popped up from his nightly video game ritual. “What are you doing? Didn’t you work out earlier today?” He inquired.
“Well, yes, but… I didn’t burn enough… calories. I’ll have this conversation… with you in a minute. I only have… eight more calories to go.” I panted in response.
I obtained a smart watch to answer phone calls without my phone. Now, it’s an incessant reminder that despite not living a sedentary lifestyle, I’m not active enough.
I bought a smart watch to be able to answer/screen phone calls and respond to texts when I am away from my phone. Or rather, to be able to answer calls when I lose my phone for the thirtieth time in a single day. I knew the watch could track my heart rate and steps, and as someone who enjoys fitness, this seemed like a more accurate way to track steps than relying on a phone I rarely keep on my person.
Instead, I have found myself obsessing over my watch’s tracking. Every calorie, every minute of exercise, every step.
The watch is unforgiving when life happens. I updated my iPhone 8 Plus (before switching to an XS Maxx) and it took two days for the update on the watch to match my iPhone and thus connect. I didn’t wear my watch as a bridesmaid at my best friend’s wedding. I have been sick for nearly two weeks, first with a stomach bug and now something respiratory.
Each time I fall short of the goals set for me by my watch, it makes sure to remind me of my shortcomings. A reminder each morning that I didn’t meet my goals here, a nice Monday reminder that I didn’t burn enough calories the previous week and thus need to lower my expectations.
I have consistently burned over 500 active calories each day since becoming sick, simply from the demands of parenting toddlers and managing a household. Instead of feeling like those statistics indicate I should rest more, my smart watch has been there to make me feel like a lazy lowlife.
I will agonize over my watch no more.
My husband let me sleep in today. When I finally got up, I realized my watch had died and I needed to immediately charge it to try to reach my standing goal for the day. By the time it was fully charged, I’d missed my opportunity to reach 12 hours of standing for the day. This meant I would not reach my month’s goal of standing 12 hours a day for 26 days.
Not because I don’t stand for a minute each hour for 12 hours a day, but because I wasn’t wearing my watch enough to document this.
Instead of feeling discouraged, today I felt angry. I’ve endured three months of absolute stress about my activity level because of a little electronic device. I have agonized over my calories and the watch’s arbitrary goals.
I’m not motivated by the watch anymore. I know I live an active lifestyle. I also know that sick people deserve to rest. Society is hard enough on us about diet and fitness. Our technology ought to be able to passively document, instead of offering criticism.
So today, I’m not going to wear my watch at all. When I’m healthy enough to exercise again, I’ll put it back on as a tool to track my workouts. Nothing more, nothing less. A piece of flawed technology is not my master and does not determine my worth.