Do you have a fitness tracker? Do you like it?

I recently got a smart phone. My 7-year-old dumber phone wasn’t working so well any more so I finally did it. Apart from access to my personal emails, I’m not using many features except that inbuilt app that tracks the number of steps I’m doing daily.

I like walking. I often walk an hour to work. Public transport is awkward ‘point to point’ anyway so I may as well walk the extra. My walking time is reliable. So to start with, I liked the app. I do pretty well a lot of the time but not always.

But after a couple of weeks it got to be an obsession. It didn’t feel good. There wasn’t really a way to ‘win’. If I didn’t get to 10,000 steps I felt guilty. I had missed the mark. If I did get there, I merely ticked it off, like a chore that had to be done.

Here’s what I think. Measurement isn’t bad as a baseline. If you have no idea what to aim for, measurement shows you where you are and where you want to be.

But if you know roughly what you’re doing, if you have decent habits, measurement can be a turn-off. I tend to be a fairly healthy weight. I usually don’t weigh myself unless my weight is really creeping up (damn middle-age). I weighed myself when I was younger. Back then, it was always the same, give or take half a kilo. So even now when my ‘normal’ is a few kilos heavier, I can tell roughly how much I weigh without the scales.

Obsessing doesn’t feel good. “Should do” doesn’t feel good. What does feel good is that it’s nicer to walk than cram onto public transport. It’s fun to go out dancing rather than watch TV. It’s a challenge to go rock-climbing. The water feels good when I’m swimming laps. What feels good to me is doing something daily because we’re made to move; the wellness of mind and body depend on it.

Maybe it’s the rebel in me: “Only because I want to and not because you tell me to.” Let’s face it, “should do” is never inspiring. It’s all about guilt. Even if you do what you “should” you don’t get credit for doing it, you just avoid the big black mark against your name.

Use measurement as a baseline but then focus on the benefits of doing. Reaching the goal isn’t really what it’s about. Having habits that give you a good life is the real point.

Then again, if you love your measurements, go for it. Live and let live.