Like an 'ordinary' city guy, I go to bed around midnight and wake up at 7 am or so. I walk on our terrace for 20 minutes in the evenings. This habit went on for two decades. This routine has been a built-in feature conditioned in my internal clock -- I wind up my walk right on the dot, even without consulting my watch.
December last, things have changed, thanks to a fitness watch gifted by someone dear from abroad. It is an ‘exercise watch’ with its myriad features helping weight/fitness conscious consumers. This has a black dial that glows in the dark and when held at eye level. Lo, I felt I was on the verge of making a breakthrough in the fitness world. Next, I read about its every function on the net, including its advanced features to extract the benefits to the maximum.
I tried each and every feature to make the moolah worthwhile. Information is available on the manufacturer’s portal too. Some awards are freely offered via virtual badges for each milestone/ goal users accomplished in their progress towards fitness. Also thrown in are some inspirational tips to coax users to upgrade their goals to the next level. Of course, they are for an extra price. Buyers can also get connected to one another for bonhomie or one-upmanship. There are not enough ideas in the marketing sphere, to be after the buyers before and after purchase.
Next thing I knew, I synced my watch with my computer, laptop, I-pad, et al. and I did not leave my old android phone alone, though I have one gifted Apple cell. At first, I inserted a tracking dongle into my PC to read the progress reports on other gadgets. I tracked my progress with respect to all my vital numbers, scores, and graphs linked to my physical activity or lack of it as dished out by my watch. My activities are customized for the watch to know whether I am walking, climbing stairs, cycling (poor watch, it reads motorbike as cycling), and yoga. This watch has come to stay as my plaything and a challenging tool in my otherwise retired life.
Promptly, I gave up my walking routine on our terrace as the same seemed elementary and silly, now that a new gadget arrived for outdoor activity. Then what use is a costly piece, I wondered.
I went in search of parks which boasted their walking tracks. Luckily, I found one nearer our home, despite it is only eight times larger than our apartment roof. At first, I set my watch to ‘walk’ mode with GSP on and began making rounds on the walkers’ track. On my first day, I walked for twenty minutes since it has been my usual length of exercise time right from my bypass surgery 20 years ago. After my maiden walk outside with the new watch, I read from its dial that I did just 2000 steps, spent 150 calories, and walked 1.2 miles in 20 minutes along with other averages/current speeds of my walk and heart rate, etc. Oh, that was a remarkable revelation for a beginning. I returned home with a beaming smile. That night I wore it to my bed.
The watch can read sleep too, say, for how many hours I slept last night and the exact time/s I was restless/ awake, and instances of any disturbed sleep, including my lowest heartbeat rate during rest/sleep and so on.
Soon I realized the tool became my master on several counts. For one, I deliberately avoided consulting time on our wall clock before going to bed as anyway I would know about my sleeping pattern on the various connected devices the next morning. Coming to other drawbacks, my earlier wake-up time got advanced now, as I am curious to check what has been the quality of my last night’s sleep. Initially, the disturbances recorded during sleep were few and far between, according to the graphs. Of late, they are crowding to jostle for space on the screens.
The default number of steps as a goal for a healthy adult is 10,000 per day. The maker's literature says that one can even set higher targets as a new goal than that number. Mine was measly 5000 on the average during the first month, which is half of the mandatory 10,000. There again I found myself a misfit for the watch.
With determination, I started hitting the roads for that extra mile twice in a day in addition to 20-minute evening walk in the park, to make good the shortfall. Now embarked on a ‘hike’ mode, I climbed steeper roads in the posh colonies nearby; I thought I should be achieving the recommended target of 10,000 steps.
Bingo, with the given elevation of the roads I discovered newly, my target steps count was soon achieved. I was on cloud nine after reading the same from the day-end reports. As per the watch, I climbed a record 30 floors one day and a message came from the manufacturers congratulating me with a colorful badge (virtual of course) praising for the first- time feat, which badge I proudly shared it online with my family. Maybe, the elevation of the road was mistakenly read by the watch as 30 floors although there are no real steps or floors I climbed that day.
One day, my wife got surprised when I used the stairs to go to the terrace at 11.30 pm. I gave her a ruse that I was only going there to fetch the clothes hung to dry during the day by the maid. But the real reason was to finish my backlog in my step count of 500, and also the number of floors for the day. When I returned to bed, the clock struck 12. Alas, I had to wait and watch for next morning to know if I am done with my previous day’s target step count. By midnight, all numbers would be set to zero, automatically on the watch.
I started developing an itch on my wrist. Constant wearing of the piece 24/7 must have led to the development of a few colonies of bacteria underneath, and the invisible creatures would have multiplied in their millions. They must have been exercising hard to breed like mad. I made a mental note to clean up the strap, and so I set an alert on my cell for a new task, to disinfect the strap.
Talking about good tidings, I lost 3 kgs in 4 months, either due to the excitement or burning of real calories. I need to see for how long more I will be living with my new watch mate to hate it.