Why I Took Off My FitBit

The downside of tracking steps, sleep, and heart rate.

Credit: Dziggyfoto

It was the first warm sunny Saturday in what felt like months and our town was having their annual Canal Days celebration. We loaded the kids up in the shiny new double stroller and started walking.

We had been walking for about 2 hours when I looked down at my FitBit and I tap on it, I’m excited, I’m expecting to see glitter jump out of this thing thrilled for my activity and what I see left me aghast, I’d logged 15 steps. FIFTEEN STEPS. In 2 hours. I started to google and found, sure enough, if you’re pushing a stroller your steps may not be counted.

I wanted a do-over. I was legit upset. I had just walked for 2 hours and I wanted CREDIT. Where’s my achievement unlocked avatar? Where’s my milestone met for the day text?

Part of me wanted to walk the entire length again this time to get the steps. It was like those steps, those 2 hours of experiencing life didn’t count because this device didn’t track them. I took a second to get a grip on reality and it was at that point I thought: huh, maybe this tracking isn’t really serving you.

But like most lessons I learn it didn’t drive me to change my ways immediately.

A few days later I was sipping coffee with my husband and he asked me a very simple question: “How’d you sleep?” and before I tapped in to myself, I went for the FitBit app to tell me. The app revealed that I didn’t hit my sleep goals, I didn’t even hit my averages and immediately I deemed that I had slept horribly and that I was very tired. I felt defeated about the day before it even began.

A little while later, remembering how wrong the FitBit had been on the steps, I made room for the possibility that it was wrong about the sleep too. Was I really tired? No. Had I slept well? I think I did.

So, I took off the FitBit and immediately I felt like I was one of those animals released from captivity: I was free.

In the few weeks since taking off my FitBit I’ve had some more insights…

The success of my day is no longer measured in the steps that I take.

I’m checking in with my body when someone asks how I slept or how I feel and that simple act is a game changer in being present.

When I have to run up the stairs for the 4th time in the morning because someone forgot socks or a hairbrush or their mind I’m not thinking “well, at least it counts for steps”, instead I’m thinking: my body is so nimble taking these steps two at a time!

I’m sure for some people the act of tracking their steps feels purposeful and great but for me it took my eye off the real prize: living fully for the sake of living fully and checking in with myself as my own authority.