It’s Like Winning the Super Bowl

Or, reason #89,753 I love my FitBit.

Originally I was going to write about some of the technical aspects about my FitBit that helped me reach my fitness goals. But given I just finished an epic “5-Day Workweek Hustle Challenge”, I thought it would be more fun to recap that experience and show one of the more enjoyable (for me) components about “wearable tech.”

First, some personal background info: I am one competitive son of a gun. Now, I don’t think my competitiveness is of a different ilk or unique. But I really don’t like who I become when my juices get going. When I’m really gunning to win, I can get rude, obnoxious, take cheap shots, engage in psychological warfare… All bets are off. I don’t like resorting to that alter ego, but when he comes out, it’s a “scorch the earth” mentality. And my FitBit lets me indulge that alter ego in a controlled manner.

Anyways, one of the cool perks of FitBit is the social aspect (I don’t know about other devices, but I assume they have something similar). You can add your friends, track their steps and even engage in competitions. I’ve done a couple before—like the “Weekend Warrior” challenge, in which you and your friends compete to see who can get the most steps on a weekend. I tend to win those rather easily because I’ve gotten into running and I also have no life, so I can easily spend my whole day just roaming my neighborhood, racking up steps like an old Asian grandma picking up recyclables the night before trash day.

But this past Monday, I did the “5-Day Workweek Hustle” for the first time—who can get the most steps from Monday-Friday. For me, this was an actual challenge. My day job confines me to a desk for the better part of 10 hours, and while I try to get my steps in (take the stairs, short breaks), I don’t get to walk as much as I’d like. Given my competition, I knew my normal routine wouldn’t be enough.

Now, while I was technically competing with four other friends, I was only concerned about one. Let’s call her “Sammie.” For one, Sammie is pretty darn active—if I’m more of an “urban fit” she is an all-terrain fit. Throw any sort of environment at her, and she’ll thrive. Another X-Factor: Her competitive streak is similar to mine, and if she is set on winning, she’ll find a way, come hell or high water. Granted, there was simply no way I was going to lose this competition, but I knew she thought the same way—so I couldn’t take her lightly.

(I would also be concerned about another friend—let’s call him Simba—but he’s currently dealing with snow and being in a different time zone, putting him at a big disadvantage.)

Anyways, I knew Sammie would find a way to get steps and lots of them. To win, I planned my week around getting steps, deciding to take super long walks after work—go home and get stepping. I chose to go with a “Shock and Awe” strategy: put up some BIG numbers right away and ideally break the spirit early. The downside: It may inspire Sammie to respond in kind, which I know she’s capable of. But in my mind, if I kept it close early and tried to pull away on Thursday and Friday, I might not have a substantial buffer to hold off any late charge.

Sammie started off with a bang—8,000 steps early Monday after a morning run. When she put that big number up early, I knew I’d have to respond with a bigger number. And I did: by the end of Monday, I put up 19,000 steps. Just to give you some context, FitBit sets the default daily step goal at 10,000 or so. Which is approximately 4.32 miles (based on my steps).

The next two days, I put up another 20K and 21K steps, respectively: like I said, shock and awe. I also engaged in some of that psychological warfare I referred to before. An example: Most people will let their FitBit devices update in real time, so you can see someone’s step progress throughout the day. I deliberately turned off my phone’s bluetooth and WiFi so my FitBit wouldn’t sync until late at night, letting Sammie and the others think they were getting close and then BOOM—drop a huge number on them, all with the aim of breaking the spirit. Like I said, I can be quite the jerk when I want to win.

Even last night, with a big lead, I didn’t feel safe. I grabbed a milk tea with two friends and we did laps around the plaza until almost midnight, all so I could add to my lead. To my surprise, Simba put up a huge late charge, actually overtaking Sammie temporarily, who hadn’t synced her device for four hours. I was thinking about all the scenarios Sammie could be doing to add approximately 15,000 steps during that time—sprinting around the block, running a late night marathon, anything was possible.

When I woke up this morning and looked at my phone, I saw that Sammie had overtaken my Thursday total by 1,000 steps—but I didn’t yet add my Friday numbers. With a coy smirk, I synced my FitBit, added the 14,000 steps I collected Friday and claimed the little gold trophy FitBit awarded me for winning. After basking in that glory for about 5 minutes, I went out for a 7 mile run. Because I don’t do it for the (virtual) trophies and accolades; I do it because it’s fun for me now. And once it stops being fun, I’ll do something else.

I don’t know if this post will encourage or discourage people from wearable tech, but my advice: Find whatever works for you and keep at it, until it stops working. And then find something else.

Keep pushing the pile, friends!

– SS
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