I welcome my new overlord
April 25, 2019 Birthdays

For my birthday, the guys gave me a Garmin watch; it has been four days and already it has taken over my life. I’m full-on David Sedaris. I welcome my new watch overlord.

I used to figuratively roll my eyes when I would hear various friends complain that their fitness tracker didn’t properly count steps or heart rates, or that they forgot to enter their workout into their app. I would think, Does it matter? You still DID the exercise, does it MATTER if it’s not recorded on your device? Well. Just like everything I’ve ever silently judged in my life, it has come back to haunt me. I am now completely obsessed and also have turned into one of Today’s Children who get all sorts of accolades and praise for participation. Yesterday I went for a run and, while I consider myself to be a very self-motivated person, I couldn’t help but be thrilled every time my watch buzzed when I unlocked a new achievement. Step counts? More than 5km run? Elevation gains? Heart rate intensity minutes? Every time I got a new Badge, I felt like I did when I was a Brownie and my mom sewed a physical badge to my sash. Check THIS out. 

The Watch is pretty bossy, though. I said this to my husband and he replied that it was just like its owner, which, well. I’m sure there is some way to change this setting, but it seems like being stationary for fifteen minutes at a time triggers it into a bossy frenzy; it doesn’t even gently or politely suggest movement, it buzzes and in all capitals and punctuated with an exclamation mark says MOVE! on the screen. I was at the hair salon yesterday when this happened; my colour was processing and I had, obviously, been seated for this procedure.

Me, silently: Don’t boss me!

Also me: *gets up and pretends to use the washroom just to clear the move bar*

It doesn’t seem to take any other activity into account before virtually shouting at me to MOVE!, as proven last night. Yesterday I had a) practiced yoga, gone for a run and a dog walk, AND grocery shopped at Superstore, with all its accompanying steps and stairs to put the groceries away, b) doubled my step goal AND my stair-flight-climbing goal, and c) got in half of the week’s worth of “intensity minutes.” And yet, I curled up in my chair after dinner to read, and the Watch began buzzing at me.

Me: You’re not the boss of me!

Also me: *waits five minutes before getting up to use the bathroom*

The book I’m reading is The Rosie Effect. I read and enjoyed The Rosie Project years ago, and I am enjoying this book just as much, if not more. However, it was a little unsettling to realize that Don Tillman’s Standardised Meal System is not dissimilar to my own Weekly Meal Plan, as far as efficiency, ingredient inventory, shopping, and zero food wastage goes. It’s always a little startling to see aspects of one’s own personality in a fictional character, particularly when that fictional character is Don Tillman.

Speaking of the Weekly Meal Plan, while I was making Thai curry on Tuessday, I realized something: the Watch has changed my household behaviour. I have become extremely inefficient when it comes to moving between floors of the house. The kitchen is on the main floor, but the pantry is downstairs, and normally I am extremely efficient at Bringing Stuff Upstairs – except, of course, when I forget what I went down to the pantry for. In Life Before The Watch, I would bring up broccoli from the basement fridge, snip some cilantro, and bring up the peanuts all in one trip. Tuesday, however, I took three trips to do this, plus a fourth to bring up the laundry, as the dryer finished while I was prepping dinner. My morning ritual, in Life Before The Watch, involves putting in a load of laundry at the same time I do my hair, my hair products and appliances being housed in the bathroom adjacent to the laundry room. In Life Before The Watch I would carry a laundry basket – with bathroom cleaner and gloves perched on top – on one hip and a coffee cup and hair accessories in the other hand, in order to minimize the number of times I would go up and down the stairs. Now, Post-Watch, I’m going downstairs to put the laundry in, going back upstairs for hair accessories, and after that, going up and down the stairs to get the cleaning products with which to tidy the bathroom.

Frankly, it’s probably safer this way, if slightly more insane. It was only a matter of time before I Emily Starr-ed and tumbled down the stairs while carrying all those items.

Slight digression for those of you who spent years of your childhood obsessed by the Emily books: did you ever feel sorry for Dean Priest? I sure did, even though he was possessive and a little bit creepy. I always thought Teddy was too smarmy. But then, I guess this is what happened back then when one lived in a small community: if you were a woman, and there was a man in your general age bracket, then it was likely that you would get married. It would only be a matter of time. Ah, romance.

But back to the Watch: memories of life before it are becoming faded and distant. It’s like trying to remember what you did before you had a smart phone. How did we interact with people? Did I call them? Email them? I have no idea. And now I have no idea what I did without counting my steps like a crazy person. This way lies madness.

To quote from David Sedaris: 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? Well, we all knew in which category I would fall. It’s not like I didn’t know this would happen. Give me any kind of goal – number of books to read in a year, number of kilometers to run in an hour, number of steps in a day – and I immediately want to crush it. Add in there a spreadsheet or an app and suddenly I become a monster. The saddest thing is that the only person I am competing with is myself. I thought briefly about joining one of those friendly competition groups, and instantly quashed that idea. I don’t need to be marching in place while reading at night just to get a first-place badge. Or do I?

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