health

"The lengths I've gone to in order to win a simple Fitbit fitness challenge."

Amart Sports
Thanks to our brand partner, Amart Sports

I have always had a competitive streak. In fact, I may be banned from playing several board games with my family because things just get out of hand. So when I got a new Fitbit charge HR to help inspire me to do more exercise, I should have known that it would almost instantly become a competition.

First it began with just needing to beat myself, I had to hit the 10,000 steps per day. As silly as it may sound I got so much satisfaction out of feeling my wrist vibrate to announce I had done it, I’d hit my 10,000. But that was just the beginning.

I started walking to and from work to up my daily steps, 10,000 wasn’t enough, I needed to hit 15,000 each day or more and was rewarded with virtual badges for doing so. In no time I’d walked the equivalent to the full length of England, New Zealand and Hawaii but competing against myself didn’t give me the same satisfaction it once did – I needed more glory.

fitness challenge
“In no time I’d walked the equivalent to the full length of England, New Zealand and Hawaii.” Image via iStock.

It started out innocently enough; I challenged my sister to ‘The Weekend Warrior’ — who could do the most steps in a weekend. I thought I could easily knock this out of the park, and I’d win yet another virtual badge. My plan had one major flaw, I had forgotten as a nurse — my sister walks around all day. While I’d started out strong she soon overtook me in leaps and bounds, but I couldn’t bear to lose. Which is where my competitive side really started to rear its head.

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It began with some extra pacing around my small apartment, I was only out by a thousand or so steps I could still win. I walked round and round in circles, building up precious steps if anyone saw me they would have thought I was totally mad, but I needed to win and if that’s what I had to do I was going to do it. But it was to no avail I was too far behind and I was going to lose. So I did something I’m not proud of… I cheated.

Someone had told me if I wanted to build up my steps I could just swing my arm, like somewhat of a robot dance move, and it would trick the Fitbit tracker into thinking I was walking. When in actual fact, I was sitting on the sofa watching telly and drinking tea. I’d heard stories about Fitbit cheats attaching their devices to dogs, metronomes and bicycles, what I was doing wasn’t nearly that bad and it would just be the one time right?

And sure enough, I won the challenge, only I knew that I’d cheated and it felt so good to win. But it was a slippery slope, before I knew it once or twice when I was close to my 10,000 steps, or I was taking part in a challenge I’d just swing my arm for a bit, instead of doing actual exercise, and hey presto I’d achieve my goal — I’d win.

Feeling my Fitbit vibrate and watching the digital fireworks light up the screen congratulating me for hitting my daily goal or winning a challenge giving me the validation I desperately wanted, soon lost its meaning. Something that once made me feel so proud of myself was now a reminder of my dirty secret.

I’d bought my Fitbit to help me get back into doing exercise and get motivate me to improve my health and wellbeing. There was only one thing to do to get back that feeling of pride back. I had to lose. The next day was the first time in what seemed like an age I didn’t hit 10,000 steps and that was ok.

Next, I lost a challenge to my sister, but strangely it felt good to lose, good to know I’d done my best and though I hadn’t won I’d still tried, I’d still done as many steps as I could and that was good enough. Now when I feel my Fitbit vibrate and watch the screen light up, announcing that I’ve hit my goals I still get that feeling of validation and pride because I know I earned it.

How do you hit your fitness goals?

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