The day the Fitbit battery died

Batteries do not last forever. They die sooner if you use them a lot, and that’s the case with my Fitbit Zip (a step counter), which I got in May and wore religiously. I tapped the screen many, many times per day as well. The battery died late last week. Consequently, I spent this weekend without my constant companion of the past 4 months.

The experience gave me a few insights.

First, I do take more steps when I have the Fitbit on, but part of this is because of the obsessive side of my personality. I dislike going to bed with some odd number on the counter — like 16,645 — and so I will walk around my house for another 355 steps to make sure I end just over a round number. I’m not sure why this is. I don’t have strange hand washing rituals or anything. I just like to aim for the next clean thousand.

Needless to say, without the Fitbit, there was no night-time pacing. I may have fallen asleep at 16,999 steps, and I’ll never know.

Second, I really like getting “credit” for my activity. I went on an hour-long run on Saturday morning. It didn’t feel great at the beginning (I’ll write more on running while pregnant in a later post) but felt great by the end, so I went a little farther than I otherwise would have. I was happy I’d done the run, but felt somewhat cheated that I didn’t get the satisfaction of seeing that I’d taken 10,000 steps already by 10:15 a.m. I find a lot of inherent satisfaction in running, so I’m somewhat surprised to see how much I crave that external gold star as well.

Third, I use my Fitbit as a clock. That’s not a bad thing. This weekend I used my phone as a clock instead, which meant I was looking at my phone more than I should have (and checking email when I really didn’t need to see it). Looking at my step count and calorie count while I’m checking the time beats seeing some note I forgot to deal with on Friday.

This little break in Fitbit use has given me a chance to ask if it’s a habit I like. I don’t run across 3V CR2025 batteries regularly in my life, and even Amazon Prime didn’t have a great selection, so I won’t get a replacement for a few more days. But I realized, as I was walking many thousands of steps around the York County Fair today, that I do like the nudge to be more active. I do like the nudge to take an extra evening walk or run that additional mile. The suburban world is not set up to require a lot of walking, particularly if you work a mere 50 steps from your bed (as I do). So I re-ordered, and I’m looking forward to welcoming my constant companion back into my life.

13 thoughts on “The day the Fitbit battery died

  1. I’m another one who loves the external motivation of the FitBit. I am way more active when I have it on. It helps me set some great goals- like 5,000 steps before I go to work and 10,000 before lunchtime. I can regularly hit 20,000 steps per day when I am wearing my FitBit and I bet I ony get half of that when I go without it. Hope you get a new battery for yours soon.

    1. @beth – wow, 5000 steps before work! I did order the new battery and it will get here eventually. In the meantime, I’m trying to remember to move around more.

      1. I get up at 5:30AM to go for a 2 mile walk every morning. That really helps hit 5,000 steps before I get to work. This is something I have only started doing since I got my FitBit. Perhaps the two are linked…

  2. I see myself in your post! I love my FitBit, though I’m not quite as dedicated as you are. Sometimes it’s that little extra recognition that gets me moving. I have a one-page, year-at-a-glance calendar that I use to track my workouts–one color for each different type of workout. Some days being able to color in that little square is what gets me to the studio, mat or on the elliptical.

    1. @Kathy – I’ve realized that I did something similar in pre Fit bit days of recording my runs in a log. I’d stopped a few months before the Fitbit and I probably wasn’t being as serious about my runs, simply because I was relying on a general impression of how often I ran (e.g. I’m the kind of person who runs 5 days a week…but did I really? I’d only know on the weeks I recorded my time). Probably internal motivation keeps people like us at a lower-level of habit adoption. It’s the extra recognition that, yes, gets us moving more.

  3. You should upgrade to the FitBit One. I recharge the battery about once a week. It only takes 1 – 2 hours but I try to plan it during a period that I will not be moving around a bit so as not to lose any “credit”.

    1. @Judy- yes, that all-important credit… I recently found myself halfway out the door for a run without my Fitbit, and I walked back upstairs to find it and put it on. On some level, it’s silly, because my body gets “credit” for the run regardless of what my Fitbit says. My Fitbit is not even linked to any social media or anything, so it’s not like any of my friends and family are being kept abreast of my progress either! So who is this entity who needs the credit?? Why am I so motivated by a number that no one else sees?

      1. I’m motivated to compete with myself. I have a Fitbit Flex. When I first started to use it, I found I walked less than 3K steps a day at work and even less on the weekends. I pushed myself to make time to move more and find tricks like taking the long way around the office to the restroom to increase my daily step counts. Each new Fitbit badge and personal best only served to motivate me to move more. I also have Fitbit “friends” and I love to see my name above others in the step count rank — it’s definitely “healthy” competition.

  4. Hi Laura, you should definitely get yourself the fitbit one, I replaced my zip with it last year and I love it.
    The ability to charge it (about once per week) is great and the sleep tracking and step counting features are great additions.

    David (currently only at 5948 steps) 🙂

    1. @David – the sleep tracking thing might be interesting. I generally sleep pretty well, so it hasn’t been much of a priority, although I’m sure I could look into optimizing that… Go get those extra 4000 steps!

  5. I miss my fitbit terribly. I haven’t replaced it since it fell apart after less than a year. Fitbit said I had abused it too, and I think they are right. My phone is in a military grade case, otherwise it would die during the first week I owned it. I’m just rough on things. Shoes, walls, cars, computers, appliances, e-readers…you name it, I have killed it. To give myself credit, I have never been responsible for killing the car, but I tend to be a magnet for bad drivers. How on earth does one get rear ended at stoplights three times? I seem to be gentle on my family and pets though. I’m good with that.

    1. @Elizabeth Judy- I am very curious what Fitbit defined as abuse! I did once send mine through the wash which probably shortened its battery life as well.

      1. It was chipped, cracked, had nail polish on it and bite marks from the dog. There was also some dirt that fell out (I hope it was just dirt) when it finally fell completely apart – probably from the time the girls and I shoveled 8 tons of compost over the course of several weekends. I would have had my parental rights revoked if social services were involved.

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