So Long, FitBit

On Sunday, I decided I no longer needed my FitBit. The decision has nothing to do with the quality of the product. I have been mostly happy with the three FitBit devices I’ve used since early 2012. My only complaint about the product is the weak bands that came with the FitBit Flex. It seemed I had to replace those bands more often than I should have over the course of the 3+ years I used the device.

I started using a FitBit not long after reading Stephen Wolfram’s essay on “The Personal Analytics of My Life” back on March 8, 2012. It is possible I went out and bought my first FitBit device that same day. I wrote about personal analytics a few days later. I was fascinated by what information and insights could be gained out of simple things like steps counts. That data has served me well.

I have two reasons for saying goodbye to my FitBit:

1. I have learned as much as I can from five years of step data. That isn’t to say that there aren’t insights I could gain by continued use, but they are diminishing returns in terms of usefulness and impact on my daily life. I know how much I walk in a day; I know how many flights of stairs I tend to climb; I have an idea of my resting heart rate. What more I could learn doesn’t seem as potentially useful as things I have already learned.

2. I no longer need the training wheels. I have changed my habits accordingly. I wasn’t much of a walker when I first got my FitBit. In the five years since, I have put close to 17 million steps—close to 8,000 miles. My habits have solidified. I walked every day, sometimes more than once a day. I no longer need a device to encourage my walking. Moreover, I no longer need the data the device provides to prove to myself that I am walking.

This insight was similar to the one that struck me when I finally ended my 825-consecutive-day writing streak. Over the course of those 825 days, I’d taught myself how to write every day, even when I didn’t feel like writing, even when the circumstances of the day acted against me. I no longer needed the streak to do the writing. I’d learned everything I needed to learn.

The thing I will miss is the silent alarm my FitBit provided. But it was nice to wake up this morning with the decision firmly in my mind, and take off my FitBit, knowing that it had served its purpose well.

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