The weirdest thing has happened to me. I didn’t plan it. There was nothing intentional about it at first. The first couple of weeks it was going on I didn’t think much about it. Then I started noticing and I wondered how long it would last. Then there came a day I had to make up my mind. Do I keep doing this? Do I let it end? That was probably the big day day. I decided to keep going. And I think it’s starting to change me.
I’m talking about my Apple Watch and it’s damned Move goal. I’ve got a streak of 78 straight days of hitting it going. I’m starting to become obsessed. I’d say I’m not sure that’s healthy, but I’m pretty sure it actually is. It’s kind of the point.
For those of you who don’t have an Apple Watch I’ll fill in some of the blanks. The watch has an internal accelerometer so it can measure movement and a sensor on the back face that can measuere pulse. It also picks up data from my iPhone to help with location and distance accuracy. That’s not all that important to me right now, but for a lot of folks that’s a killer feature. Unlike a FitBit or other fitness bands, the watch doesn’t track things by steps. It tracks steps, but that’s not the main data type. I don’t know the procedure and I’m sure there are people who consider it bullshit, but the thing actually tracks calories, both resting and active. How does it do this? Don’t know. Don’t care. I don’t know if it’s calculations are valid. I’m guessing they’re probably not too far out of whack. I do believe they’re reliable. That’s to say I’m confident that however it’s calculating the numbers, it’s doing it the the same way each day. That’s good enough for me. Even if the actual number is wrong somehow, I know that if I have a higher one today than yesterday, it means I probably did more. Again. It’s good enough for me.
That diagram is a screenshot from my watch at 12:43 this afternoon. The outer (red) ring is the “Move Goal.” Every Monday morning the watch chooses a daily target number for the week. You have the option of raising it or lowering it. I’m not going to say what my number is because, well, I don’t want to tell you. Sufficed to say I haven’t lowered it in several weeks and it’s high enough that I can’t just lounge around the condo and expect to hit it. It’s higher than it was on December 31, 2015 when this streak started. I did some work out on the patio this morning and actually hit my daily goal before noon. That’s the first time that’s ever happened and sitting here right now I could cheerfully go to sleep at 7:30 PM so I don’t plan top make a habit of it. The middle (green) ring is the “Exercise” ring. It wants you do do 30 minutes of exercise. I’ve yet to see that ring filled in. That’s a record there. It’s not what I’m concentrating on right now, so that one remains meaningless to me until that day I actually get one completely filled in. The inside (blue) ring is the “Stand” ring. It’s a bit of a misnomer because what it ought to be called is the “not motionless” ring. Technically you’re supposed to stand up and move around for at least a minute 12 times a day, but almost everyone has found that you can fool it by moving your arms around while sitting. If you haven’t moved enough to satisfy the thing since the top of the last hour, you’ll get a prompt at 50 minutes past the hour so you have a chance to get that hour in. If you’re driving down the road at 10 ’til the hour and you see someone gesturing wildly with their arm, you’ve found an Apple Watch owner. Trust me.
It kind of started with the Stand goal at first. I was shocked at how fast an hour could go by. When I get locked in on the screen in front of me, I get locked in. I’ve had the watch for almost a year now. It actually came out on my birthday, though mine didn’t make it to me for a couple of days. I almost immediately started paying attention of the Stand goal and igorning everything else. I’ve only had perfect weeks 7 times. If I miss it’s usually by one at the most and it’s because I found myself at a computer for a good part of the day.
I’ve hit the Move goal every day this year. I found out pretty early one that it will be happy to keep raising your goal every week until you just can’t hit it. I’m not at the highest total it’s tried to get me to, but it’s higher than it was when the streak started by a significant amount. My rule is that I’ll raise it when in a typical week at home I make it without worry. The streak is only meaningful if I’m having to work at it. At this point I still aim for the level I’m at.
Here’s where it gets weird. I was finding myself coming up short toward the end of the day, so I was coming up with all these quick and dirty exercises to get me across the line. That’s fine as far as that goes, but a quick look at the activity graph and I could see that I was procrastinating. So I figured out what my hourly target ought to be. That may not sound like a big deal to you, but I can’t think of anything so foreign to me as “Oh, I must make sure a I move around this much each hour.” My spirit animal is the Giant Sloth for God’s sake. I’ve been known to collect dust on my glasses. While I’m wearing them.
That project I worked on out on the patio that put me over ridiculously early today? I started it because I wanted to “get ahead” on my budget so I could spend some time writing. The project wound up growing and then I was over, but that was an accident. I’m just astonished that I’ve actually managed to convince myself that I ought to think about things this way.
Who am I. What have I done with myself?
I will cop to feeling better. I will cop to my knees not hurting so much (though these knee braces I’ve been wearing have helped on that score, too). I have no idea whether I’ve lost any weight because I’m not paying any attention to that. it’s not the point. I suspect it’ll happen. I suspect I’ll start paying attention to it sooner or later. But not yet.
I have no idea how long the streak will last. It just kind of happened accidentally. The first two weeks of the year were nuts, then getting my replacement for my old job kept me going into the office. Let’s be clear. I’m not running marathons here. All I have to do is something resembling what someone in shape would do on days they aren’t in a coma and I’ll hit the goal. It was only when I was done at the job that I had to make up my mind to keep on the streak going. I plan to keep it going for as long as I can. Between my already lousy fitness and a year with A-Fib, I pretty much sat on my ass for the last couple of years. I’m breaking that cycle.
The streak will end. It wasn’t today, though. And I have no plans for it to be tomorrow either.