My husband surprised me at Christmas with a new Fitbit. I was stupidly happy about it. I hadn’t expected the present and, as happens to me about every three weeks, I was in a strong mindset to get/stay in shape.

One of my main goals was to use the new gadget to record my steps as a not-so-subtle nudge to get out from behind my computer and walk. I had tried tracking with my iPhone but neither trusted it recording nor liked that it was one more reason to be attached to my phone.

There were 30 million active Fitbit users in 2019. My guess is that went up in 2020 with more people trying to get socially distanced exercise by walking. I joined some 75 million people who have registered their Fitbit. I sincerely doubt, especially in the last few snowy and cold weeks, that I am in the ranks of the 10,000-steps-a-day club. Don’t get me wrong: I actually love walking when it is cold out. If you dress properly, it is invigorating and, yes, fun.

What I didn’t expect with my new chunky black wrist companion is that I would start depending on it for so many other functions. It tells me resting heart rate and active-zone minutes, has a timer, alarms, Spotify, weather reports, relaxation techniques, a Starbucks function (ummm, no.), Alexa and “find a phone” abilities. Oh, and it also tells time and tracks my steps.

While I haven’t explored even half of its options, there is one that now I absolutely can’t live without: It vibrates when I have a call, tells me who is calling and allows me to answer. (I can’t talk to the person calling through my phone, so why does it have that ability?) These functions mean that I can have my phone on silent, but still know when someone is calling. I don’t miss important calls anymore. I also see texts, although I can’t answer them (I think).

With my very busy life, four work emails and professions that require almost 24/7 attention, this Fitbit has given me a feeling of more control than I care to admit.

My son and I have a daily competition of who records the most steps. He is in college (remote classes at Cleveland State University) and also works as a stocker at the Westgate Target. On his work days, he trounces me. On school days, I trounce him.

I know that this week we experienced a fake spring. It will snow again. It will be frigid again. But for a brief, shining February week, my steps soared. And so did my mental health.

Technology can restrict and constrain our lives. But sometimes, it can be freeing. I feel liberated and in control. And that’s a good thing.

Contact this reporter at editor@westlifenews.com or 440-871-5797.

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