Last night as I was polishing off a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey and a couple of leftover holiday cookies, I decided that I should send my Fitbit on vacation. Nothing sucks the merry out of Christmas and the happy out of New Year’s like realizing that no matter how many steps I take between mid-December and mid-January, I’ll be wearing the excess calories around my thighs well into 2016.
Then, just as I was loosening the elastic on my sweatpants to make room for a few more Snowballs (you know, those irresistible butterball confections dusted in powdered sugar), I came to the even more disturbing realization that the difference between Fitbit and Fatbutt is a mere three letters.
Teetering on the precipice of total gluttony, I wrestled my hand back from the pumpkin pie, hoping to somehow register a few steps in the process, and vowed to remain faithful to my merciless Fitbit. I’ve been wearing the activity tracker practically non-stop since last Christmas but I haven’t quite reconciled the Freudian conflict between my id (hunger and sloth) and my superego (the Fitbit).
In case you haven’t yet developed your own intimate relationship with a Fitbit, here are some facts you’ll want to know: First, President Obama, my favorite humor writer David Sedaris, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz and Britney Spears each wears one. I’m not sure why that’s important but it may be to some of you.
Second, there are a number of Fitbit models to choose from but mine tracks steps taken, distance traveled, calories burned, stairs climbed and active minutes throughout the day. If that’s not depressing — I mean motivating — enough, it also tracks your sleep. Or lack thereof, if you share your bed with a snoring husband and 80-pound chocolate lab.
The digital display shows your stats on the go and wirelessly syncs them to your computer and smartphone so you can watch your trends over time. If all this has your eyes glazing over and your head spinning, then you can ignore it and just refer to the illuminated clock and the number of steps you’ve taken before cocktail hour. After that, all bets are off.
While I’m willing to go on record as a Fitbit addict, I’m by no means alone. As of mid-2015, the company had sold over 21 million devices in 45,000 retail stores worldwide. Yet, as successful as Fitbit is, I can’t help but think that with a few modifications, their engineers might have made it even tougher for us to succumb to greed and inertia.
I’m hoping that the New Year will bring these five key improvements to Fitbit technology:
(1) A gentle but insistent electric shock administered each time we reach for that box of Harry & David’s Moose Munch (you know, that crunchy caramel covered popcorn with cashews and almonds).
(2) A more persuasive deterrent, such as Nancy Grace’s grating voice, commanding, “Get off the sofa, lardass!” when we hunker down to binge-watch 15 missed episodes of “Homeland” and “House of Cards” on a Saturday night.
(3) A more truthful visual message that streams across the Fitbit screen when we end up 9,900 steps short of our 10,000-step goal. Maybe: “You’re the wrong kind of LOSER!!!”
(4) A self-tightening wrist strap that squeezes the second martini right out of your hand as you curl your fingers around its delicate stem.
(5) A list of all foods consumed throughout the day, including the 63 M&Ms with peanuts that you sneak out of your desk drawer, one at a time, particularly during times of stress.
Until these modifications are made, I’m afraid my love/hate relationship with the Fitbit will continue. I love the fact that its mere presence on my arm serves as a constant reminder to move more and eat less. And I hate the fact that its mere presence on my arm serves as a constant reminder to move more and eat less.
Even worse, there are those days when I forget to buckle it on my wrist at all and the two hours of vigorous tennis and four-mile power walk around the ‘hood go undetected. My life, meaningless and invalidated without the Fitbit to document my every move. In fact, if I leave the house and discover I’ve left it behind, the feeling of utter panic is comparable to discovering I’ve misplaced my grandchild in Costco on Black Friday. Fortunately, I have neither grandchildren nor a Costco membership, so everyone is safe. But you know what I mean.
The way I look at it, my choice is simple: Fitbit or Fatbutt. Enough said. I’ve only racked up 9,152 steps and it’s 11:25 p.m. There’s still plenty of time to sprint the dog around the block and lug a couple more loads of laundry up the stairs.