Do you own a fitbit - or does your fitbit own you?

My name is Sam and I have an unhealthy relationship with my fitbit

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By Sam Baker on

"Sam, you haven't been your usual active self this week."

"Sam, if you just went to bed earlier, you'd get more sleep."

"Sam, you are an endless source of disappointment."

No, I haven't moved back into my adolescent home. Instead I paid £90 for the pleasure of being reprimanded, coaxed and cajoled on a daily basis by a piece of hi-tech plastic that has an uncanny knack - one previously considered the exclusive property of those genetically attached to us by two X chromosomes - for honing straight in on our weak spot, inserting a knife and twisting.

Yes, my name is Sam and I have a highly dysfunctional relationship with my Jawbone - or UP24 Jawbone, to give it its full title. Still none the wiser? It's a Fitbit by any other name.

Our relationship started well enough. I first strapped it on for a weekend in Paris six months ago. Day one I aced my recommended daily target of 10,000 'peds', racking up 18,000. (It hardly matters that we were walking from cafe to cafe, surely?) Day two I topped 20,000. Jawbone loved me, showering me with praise it assured me I was in the top 5% of Jawbone users - not to mention more active than practically every woman of my age it had ever met. The unspoken urge: aim higher. So I did. Ever the school swot, I reset my daily target from 10,000 to 12,500 and marched on. Taking stairs instead of elevators, getting off the tube a stop earlier, even marching up and downstairs for 15 minutes before I went to bed when Jawbone suggested I only needed another 1800 steps to surpass my three day average.

And I wasn't alone. I know people who walk round the kitchen while waiting for the kettle to boil, those who walk up and down stairs while taking phone calls and even reading. (Want something from the attic? I'll get it!) Someone not a million miles from The Pool even went to bed at 9.59pm. All because a piece of plastic told us to.

Never one of life's natural exercisers, I became obsessed. Just as calories consumed on aeroplanes and in cinemas don't count, soon steps stepped when not wearing my Jawbone might as well never have been taken, sleep napped when I'd forgotten to switch my device to sleep mode might as well never have been slept.

But Jawbone's approval is a fickle thing, easily given and just as easily taken away. And as I became busier at work, and therefore less able to set aside an extra 30 minutes to walk between destinations, its enthusiasm cooled. I slipped from top 5% to top 20%. When leaving home earlier and returning later meant my sleep was also suffering its jaded sigh was almost audible. And then last week, it happened. "Sam," Jawbone asked me disingenuously, "What's up with Wednesday?"

Just like that. "What's up with Wednesday?" Were there ever four words more damning? For passive aggression its right up there with, "Have you put on weight?" and "Are you planning to wear that?" 

But like any abusive relationship, I still want to please it.

But now it's worse. Now Apple wants in on the act. For a mere £289, you can be under-achieving in style. The Apple Sport Watch looks disconcertingly like an 80s Swatch, but comes with all the traits Apple addicts know and love (negligible battery life included) but with added 'health' tracking. (Mind you, £289 only affords you entry level abuse; it will set you back a cool $10000 for the Apple Watch Edition, for those who like their master-servant relationship lined with alligator.)

In other words, you can make calls, emails and get a daily bollocking all in one handy wrist-based device. And if you buy it in an actual shop - you know, one you have to walk to - instead of logging in from the comfort of your desk, you'll rack up a few thousand peds on your way there.

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Sam Baker
fitness honestly

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