Have I Mentioned How Much I Love the Exist App?

One of the things I love about the Exist app is the way it shows you how your actions interact with each other:

An Exist screenshot informing me that I'm getting less active and more productive on Mondays.

Call it confirmation bias or what-have-you, but it seems like every life/balance/habits newsletter I follow has hit the same point over the last week: to do more of one thing, you have to do less of something else.

Or, conversely: if you want to stop doing something, what will you choose to do instead?

Because if we don’t make a choice, we default to—wait, let me look it up—social media. (I don’t know if that’s actually true or not, but enough people are writing about it, and it ties in with my own anecdotal experience, so it must be!)

But I’m not here to write about how our choices limit our choices (and why that’s a good thing). I already wrote that piece.*

I’m here to complain about Fitbit.

Here’s what my Fitbit app told me yesterday, in a bright red GET WORRIED ABOUT THIS NOW notification:

Fitbit informing me that I get fewer steps on weekdays than weekends and should try to "incorporate some of your weekend activity habits into the rest of the week."

First of all—I mean, there are SO MANY OF THEM ALL, but this one will be first:

This recommendation is not associated with any baseline. Fitbit knows how many steps I’m getting. (They’re fine.) It knows how many active minutes I’m getting. (Also fine.) But since I’m getting more steps on weekends, I should be able to get more steps during the week too. Never mind priorities or commitments or any of that.

Second of all, you can’t incorporate an hour-long Les Mills BodyAttack class into the rest of the week. You’re not supposed to. Les Mills doesn’t even want you to. It is unhealthy to exercise as hard every day as I do on Sunday morning, where I get nearly double the number of steps that I get the rest of the week, and yet that is what Fitbit is advising I consider.

Here are my daily and weekly step/active averages, according to Exist:

A chart showing that my active minutes remain constant throughout the week but my steps rocket up on Saturdays and Sundays.

Fitbit takes these numbers out of context, sending me nagging reminders that I should be getting more exercise every day because I get more exercise on two days.

Exist shows me what I prioritize, illustrates how my choices and priorities affect each other, and invites me to reflect on whether I’m happy with that.

Another Exist chart showing my weekly productivity. It inversely correlates with my physical activity.

Of course, Exist gets all of my exercise and heart rate and sleep data from Fitbit, just like it gets my productivity data from RescueTime (and other data from other apps), so it’s not like I’m going to stop wearing my Fitbit Charge 3 or anything.

I just wish Fitbit would present my data without commentary, because it so often gets it wrong. When I get up early for a plane flight, for example, Fitbit sends me this “you need to maintain a consistent bedtime and wake up time” message even though it has a perfectly good GPS and can tell that I am currently in an airport.

Exist, on the other hand, has helped me adapt several habits for the better**. Without ever once instructing me to change. ❤️

*I also already wrote a piece about how much I love the Exist app, although that post described a totally different reason for loving it. Then guest poster Francine Carrel gave Exist a shout-out in her post on writing with ADHD. Go Exist!

**I am realllll hesitant to write the “I gave up refined sugar” post because we’re all making different and valid dietary choices for different reasons and I do not want to imply that THIS IS THE ONE TRUE WAY, but Exist helped convince me to stop eating refined sugar.

 
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