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That One Time When My Apple Watch Ruled My Life - More Accurately, the Move Ring...


During the first lockdown, I unwittingly started a Move Streak that would carry me on for 129 days before I crashed & burned.


Once I became aware that it had started, it was impossible to let go. Especially once I realized that Bruce was only 2 days behind me. There was absolutely no way I was going to let him beat me. (Competitive much?!)


The poor dogs were getting extra walks, I was running up & down the stairs, burpees at the side of the bed in my PJs… anything to close out the move ring & add another day to the tally.


For those who don’t know, the Apple Watch rings track your pre-set targets for standing, moving & exercise, & can be adjusted depending on your daily activity goals. Closing the Move Ring 7-days in a row is a streak, for which you receive awards. And who doesn’t like being awarded?


However, as the days added up, the obsessive behaviours & competitive exploits evolve.


It wasn’t enough to simply close the rings anymore, I had to close out all three by noon. Even better if I could do it by 11:00. Before I knew it, it was about the % over & above the move goal. Could I beat 200%?


Then my watch began notifying me every Monday morning that I was surpassing my daily move goal with ease & suggested that I might want to increase my target for the coming week. Predictably, I accepted the challenge.


It got to the point where it wasn’t just tracking my standing, moving & exercise, it was actually dictating my activity levels & controlling my life with its not-so-subtle prompts to do more. And more. And more…


As it continued, I lost all enjoyment in exercise which had now become a chore. Something I had to do rather than wanted to. I was miserable, tired, anxious & well on the way to overtraining burnout. The injuries weren’t healing, the niggles weren’t going away, I wasn’t recovering, & I certainly wasn’t resting.


I was also becoming increasingly irritable & short tempered to the point where I was beginning to hate my own attitude. There was much internal dialogue along the lines of ‘WTF are you mad about now?!?!’


Then, on what would have been day 130, I literally hit the floor. I was mid push up when I went down, but wasn’t getting back up. Physical & mental exhaustion had finally caught up with me & put me on the deck face first for what felt like an age.


And just like that, it was over. Thank f…


You might expect me to say that I experienced an overwhelming sense of relief that the torment had finally come to an end, but in truth I just felt deflated & drained. The dogs on the other hand were delighted!


With that, I told Bruce I was done. Needless to say, he carried on just long enough to break my record. Yet I’ll always maintain that I handed it to him rather than the truth, which was that I crashed out rather spectacularly.


To this day, I still can’t believe that it took for my body to physically give up before I finally acknowledged that I was being controlled by a small silicon device strapped to my arm. I knew fine well that it was unhealthy & unsustainable, but at the time I didn’t care. I just had to win.


And like so many of my clients who think their workouts ‘don’t count unless it’s recorded’, I was hooked on physically seeing & comparing the workouts logged in my activity app.


I’m not going to lie; almost 2 years on & I still stand up & move around when prompted to do so. I’ll even set a yoga workout while sitting on the sofa if I need to burn 15-20 kcals to close the move ring before bed. But for the most part, my watch & I now have a relatively peaceful co-existence. And the move goal has been lowered back down to pre-losing-the-plot levels.


Out of principle I close the move ring no more than 6 days per week, & it no longer matters if I forget to start the workout when I start a walk or a training session. Actually, that’s a complete & utter lie. But I don’t have the same irrational melt downs for missing a few valuable kcals or steps. So, that’s progress, right?


And whereas I still track my workouts, the focus has shifted from hitting a minimum move target to analyzing post training stats such as active kcals & max heart rates instead.


Hud the bus & wait a minute…


So, essentially all I have done is trade one obsession for another. I’m still actually hooked & my watch still influences my thinking & actions?


Damn it!


And there was me thinking I was finally free. Who knew?