My husband surprised me with an Apple Watch for my birthday. While I like to wear a timepiece (especially one I can customize the band to match my outfit), I was skeptical. Would the Apple Watch judge my activity levels (or lack thereof) thus causing me guilt, shame, and lower self-esteem? I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life.
I decided to ease into activity monitoring. Instead, I chose to treat the timepiece as a simple (albeit expensive) watch. I experimented with different watch faces, ultimately deciding on a photo of the Basset. And I learned how to use a few of the apps (It’s nice to receive text messages when I’m away from my phone).
After the first week, I decided to take a look at those dreaded rings.
For those who may be unaware, the Apple Watch automatically keeps track of three activity levels. The wearer receives special recognition if she can close all three rings in a day.
- Standing/moving (one minute every hour). The pre-designated goal is twelve hours a day (blue ring)
- Exercise (thirty minutes a day). Also pre-designated goal (green ring)
- Movement (set as calories). This goal is self-adjusted (red ring)
As I reviewed the first week’s activity, I realized I wasn’t as sedentary as I thought. I often stood 10 out of 12 hours; exercise typically clocked in around 10-12 minutes/day; I closed the movement ring several days in a row (although, it was originally set at a relatively low 250 calories … I assume based on sex, age, and weight).
Interestingly, I did not feel judged or criticized. I felt hopeful.
If I could achieve these results without trying, what might I achieve if I became more mindful of daily movement?
In January, I set a goal: close all rings five days out of seven. I knew if I strived for seven out of seven, I would invariably miss a day and consider myself a failure. I would stop the fitness journey before I started. This modified goal helped me develop self-compassion and grace.
In addition, I increased my movement ring to 300 calories. Since I hit 300 calories most days in December, I knew this was also an achievable goal. I wanted to set myself up for success, not failure.
By the end of January, I closed all rings 20 out of 31 days. And I learned some valuable lessons.
- If I want to close the exercise ring on a daily basis, I need to walk the Basset in the morning as well as walk a mile on the treadmill in the afternoon. This is a doable program.
- However, the Apple Watch counts ANY movement. I don’t have to walk continuously to count calories. I can jog in place during television commercials and still achieve my goal.
- The subtle reminder to “stand” is not a harsh critic, but instead an encouraging coach. Once I follow through – the watch vibrates to congratulate me. This motivates me to want to do it again (and again).
- As silly as it sounds, I love the “fireworks” display when I close all rings. I feel a real sense of accomplishment.
When February arrived, I was ready to up the ante.
My movement goal is now 400 calories. I still strive to close all rings five days out of seven, and I’ve added five minutes of yoga a day. In March (or April) I will start adding strength training exercises (perhaps three times a week). When the weather is warmer, I’d like to start walking a 5k three to five mornings a week.
This exercise experiment confirmed the mini-habit theory: Taking baby steps is the key to building sustainable lifestyle changes. However, the Apple Watch is also a helpful assistant. It serves as a good motivational coach who does not pass judgment.
In addition, the Apple Watch offers a few fringe benefits. I can leave my phone at home when walking the Basset yet still listen to a podcast with my AirPods. And similar to Dick Tracy, I can answer any phone call by simply talking to my wrist.
So far, I’m loving my Birthday gift. Thank you, G!