Mr. Awesome Pants bought me an Apple Watch for my 40th birthday. Major milestone and all that. The impressive thing about this is that it’s the second time in our relationship that he’s managed to trick me. The first was the day he proposed, although that might count as two because he also had to trick me in order to go out and buy the ring. Anyway, he made it look like we were going into the Apple Store to waste time while waiting for a movie to start. Even when he had me try one on, I thought it was just for fun. Pretty funny when it finally sunk in. I tend to hyperventilate a little when I so much as hear about cool new tech. I may have cried a bit. So now I have this totally bitchin’ space watch that brings me information via satellite. We call it The Overlord.
I’ve had fitness trackers before. In fact, I pinned a pedometer to my garter on our wedding day. That should tell you quite a bit about my level of interest in performance metrics. (Wait… that sounds a bit different than I intended. Let’s just say I danced a lot). My first pedometer clipped onto my waistband. It was constantly popping off, hitting the floor, and resetting. I remember how excited I was when I reached 1000 steps for the first time. It had taken weeks. Then I was sadly informed that the goal was TEN thousand steps, not ONE thousand. “That’s like not even a quarter mile.” Oh. So that was the first two pedometers. Then I got a Fitbit. It was cool, except that it wanted to track steps, and most of my bipedal activities were bicycling, running, or using the elliptical machine. It never added up right. I used it to make an annual mileage goal and then sold it within 20 minutes of posting it to eBay. Then I got an iPhone and tried various fitness apps, one of which kept telling me I ran 55 MPH. Um, no. I’d be thrilled if I could run 5 MPH!
What’s different about The Overlord? It really is useful as a productivity tool. Most of the stuff I tend to check compulsively on my phone is now on my wrist: my blog stats, the temperature, my daily habit checklist and top three goals, and notifications. The basic info is there, but that’s it, so I don’t tend to get sucked in. I use it to check off my grocery list. Sometimes I use Apple Pay, GPS, or Shazam, which completely trips me out. “My watch just told me what song is playing!” My 1987-era brain does not think this makes any sense. I knew I would be an ideal target user. In spite of everything I had read about the Apple Watch, I am so out of the game this year that I forgot its initial attraction for me was as a fitness tracker.
It taps my wrist to tell me to stand up once an hour, 12 times a day. Okay. I probably get up about that often anyway. Oh. Actually I don’t. So I start planning to get up once an hour. That’s not quite good enough for The Overlord. It wants at least a minute. Okay, that seems reasonable. What is that (dorkily checking 21st-century calculator watch), 1.6% of my time? Oh, but standing up for a minute isn’t enough either. I’ve tried to impress it by doing tree pose or arm circles, only to wind up walking circles around the house until the counter rolls over. The neighbors probably think I’m insane. That is actually a total non sequitur.
Then there’s the exercise quota. (Just interrupted by notification that my bigger half is leaving work). Half an hour a day. Seriously, when I was training for my marathon it would take me that long, at jogging pace, to finish adjusting the straps to my Camelbak and get my audio book started. I’ve spent half an hour running and trying to eat a Nutter Butter without getting it down my bra. Half an hour is nothing. Oh. Or actually it isn’t. It turns out that what I have been considering exercise this year does not impress The Overlord. It won’t register a single minute of my 45-minute yoga routine. On my typical walk to the library or the coffee shop, it gives me about 16 minutes out of 42. We did 45 minutes walking the dog at the duck pond, and The Overlord recorded it as 11. Turns out it measures my heart rate, not the clock. There is no cheating this thing! I just noticed today that a green light shines from one of its sensors when I’m walking fast enough to swing my arms, presumably when my heart rate is up. Unless it’s sweat-activated. It won’t count my walking on the treadmill unless I set it to at least 3.5 MPH. So, while I don’t have any real trouble reaching the daily calorie burn goal, the exercise quota has finally gotten me off my coffin, I mean couch, and starting to do some real cardio again.
The great thing about The Overlord is that it’s a completely impersonal nag. Well, not completely impersonal – it figured out all on its own to address me as “Your Excellency.” I can’t resent it because it’s just a technological embodiment of my own goals and plans. I can’t lie to it and I can’t make it promises because it doesn’t care. All it does is faithfully present me to myself.
Now I have to go. The Overlord says it’s time to stand up. And by stand up, I mean briskly walk a few laps up and down the hallway…
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
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