Or better yet, let me have David Sedaris introduce you (this is taken from his recent, very entertaining piece titled “Living the Fitbit Life” in The New Yorker):
Lesley pushed back her shirtsleeve, and as she reached for an olive I noticed a rubber bracelet on her left wrist. “Is that a watch?” I asked.
“No,” she told me. “It’s a Fitbit. You synch it with your computer, and it tracks your physical activity.”
I leaned closer, and as she tapped the thickest part of it a number of glowing dots rose to the surface and danced back and forth. “It’s like a pedometer,” she continued. “But updated, and better. The goal is to take ten thousand steps per day, and, once you do, it vibrates.”
As you might guess, Sedaris ends up purchasing a Fitbit and goes on to describe his adventures in typical Sedaris style.
What begins as a positive ‘exercise’ in self-care evolves into a consuming passion and, finally, an obsession that interferes mightily with everyday life. Sedaris finds himself going from 10,0000 to 20,000 to 30,000 steps, and so on – with no stopping point in sight.
At the end of my first sixty-thousand-step day, I staggered home with my flashlight knowing that I’d advance to sixty-five thousand, and that there will be no end to it until my feet snap off at the ankles. Then it’ll just be my jagged bones stabbing into the soft ground. Why is it some people can manage a thing like a Fitbit, while others go off the rails and allow it to rule, and perhaps even ruin, their lives?
What an excellent question that is! It reflects a challenge that many of us face – how to be disciplined about self-care without tipping the balance and allowing our discipline to turn into obsession or compulsion.
Fitbit and Life: 3 Keys
Whether we’re taking about self-care in the context of the Fitbit or life in general, here are 3 keys for your successful journey:
- Self-Knowledge: Self-care isn’t a competition; it’s about knowing what works for you. This takes experimentation and discipline, as you stretch to find and extend your limits, then settle into whatever gives you the best pay-off relative to your time investment. This will be different for everyone, and is also something that will change for each of us as we age and/or as our circumstances change. So staying in touch with yourself is the base for everything else, when it comes to self-care.
- Self-Trust: Trusting that we will follow-through on what we say we will do allows us to use our self-knowledge to its fullest as we adapt our self-care routines more and more closely to our actual needs. A lack of self-trust leads to rigidity and the sort of compulsive behavior that David Sedaris describes so well in his Fitbit tome! If I don’t trust my follow-through, I am going to confuse rigidity with discipline. Then my self-care rituals tip over into exercises in self-punishment, increasing the likelihood that I will ultimately give up!
- Moderation: It’s a fallacy to think that “More is better.” It simply isn’t. And that can be a difficult concept for many of us – especially when it comes to an activity like exercise. But just as super-sizing your French Fries doesn’t serve you, so can it be detrimental to push too hard on the exercise front. In fact, I see it as a form of self-sabotage, craftily disguised as self-care.
So, your Fitbit, coupled with Self-Knowledge, Self-Trust, and Moderation, is an excellent tool for fine-tuning your Self-Care rituals and keeping track of how you are doing. But apart from those 3 Keys, well, David Sedaris aptly sums up the dangers!
Do you have a Fitbit? I’d be very interested to hear how you use it and how it’s affected your self-care and how you’re doing on your follow-through.
If you’re running into problems, here’s something that will help:
It’s my free Inner Boundary Checklist with 15 simple steps to set and maintain strong, clear internal boundaries. The Inner Boundary Checklist helps you follow through on what you say you will do. Click this link to give yourself this powerful, free tool today!