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Thursday, April 7, 2016
Fitbit: What Does It Take to Make the Body Politic Fit? #AtoZChallenge Letter: F
In January I purchased a Fitbit Flex for myself and a Fitbit Surge for my husband. Although I exercise regularly, the past couple of years I've struggled. Where I used to attend classes at Gold's Gym five to six days a week, this winter I've attended four a week.
I mistakenly thought a Fitbit would motivate me. I thought that little black band possessed a magic elixir. I soon discovered that as the newness of the device waned, so too did its magic. I manipulate my Fitbit by logging the food I want to log and ignore logging ice cream. I'm happy to log water as I drink a lot of water. The Fitbit smiles at me when I make my goal.
I rationalize not walking 10,000 steps by focusing on the calories I've burned.
My Fitbit reminds me of Pavlov's dogs. It is, after all, a form of operant conditioning.
My Fitbit reminds me of the way politicians attempt to condition the body politic, a topic I contemplate regularly.
The American Poet Ambrose Bierce captures the nature of politicians and voters in a classic satirical poem. "The Statesman" chronicles the myriad promises politicians swear to voters eager to believe that they, the politicians, will offer a magic elixir to cure them of their woes, many undiagnosed by the body politic or politician:
As many "cures" as addle-wits
Who know not what the ailment is!
Meanwhile the patient foams and spits
Like a gin fizz.
Alas, poor Body Politic,
Your fate is all too clearly read:
To be not altogether quick,
Nor very dead.
You take your exercise in squirms,
Your rest in fainting fits between.
'Tis plain that your disorder's worms—
Worms fat and lean.
As with the unfit Body Politic looking for cures from Politician A, B, C, D, and E, I've too often taken my "exercise in squirms." For my Fitbit to work, my "disorder" needs a healthy does of exercise day in and day out. It's up to me to control my fate, to be alive in my awareness of my fitness and not dead to my role in maintaining it. To do that, I need more than the ringing of a bell, more than the smiling face and flashing lights on a little black band.
Here's the poem in its entirety. It's quite relevant today as it was when Ambrose Bierce wrote it in the nineteenth century.