Last year I kicked off my annual weight-loss journey by leaning into technology to guide me along my way. Having been harassed by my Apple Watch daily to breathe, stand, and to make sure that I "close your rings today" I thought I could use it as part of my motivation and accountability.

The setup

I used the pre-set guides as my daily goal. For me, that is 2,000kJ move, 30 minutes of exercise, and standing once an hour for at least 12 hours. Seems simple enough and fairly easy goals to achieve.

Starting out

Initially, I had no intention of trying to go a full year closing my rings. But as time went on the daily alerts I'd of "Hey, you just broke your longest move streak. Keep it up!" made me want to keep going. After the first week I got a real sense of joy seeing all those rings light up, as well as congratulations for getting a 7 day streak.

Exploring the activity app I noticed the January award was to hit my stand goal 31 times that month. Easy peasy. The gamification of being healthy started getting me hooked, and I have a feeling that is no happy accident by Apple.

Before long I was having a daily ritual of getting up early to workout and then taking my dog for a walk in the afternoon. Always being careful that I stood up at least once an hour, usually to go get another coffee.

Heading towards the final goal

Notifications that I was doing well, seeing monthly goals, and seeing friends finish their goals kept me motivated. But around October I started losing that motivation. I was no longer getting up early. I was no longer looking forward to completing my rings. I'd take shortcuts where ever possible. If I had a busy day that already recorded 25 minutes of exercise just from doing my shopping or other activities, I wouldn't then later complete my 30 minute workout. Instead I'd get on my exercise bike for 5 minutes just to complete my rings.

Already I could tell this task wasn't fun anymore. It was becoming a chore, but I couldn't give up. I was already in the mindset of wanting to break 365 days. Pushing through this made me miserable, but I was determined to complete this goal seeing as I was already so far in.

The big "ooof"

December 27th, less than half a week before the end of the year. I was working on a side project and got distracted. I noticed at around 4pm that my stand ring was only a quarter complete. Luckily there was enough time in the day for me to save it.

I don't know what happened, 9 and 10pm shot by. I think I hit my 11pm stand goal because I was pacing around my house. Annoyed and angry at myself for letting this slip by. I was so close to 365 days.

Image showing stand goal per hour, with various missing hours across the day.

At the end of the day looking at my rings and seeing this at the bottom of a wall of completed rings just made me feel sick.

Image showing incomplete stand goal.

I was able to finish the rest of the days in the year, but doing them I felt lower than ever. I was no longer trying to achieve the goal so it felt like I was doing this for nothing.

Would I recommend people try close their rings today?

Absolutely! But I wouldn't try to make it a part of your daily ritual. People need a break sometimes, and it seems the higher your streaks get the more pressure you have to keep them that way. This can easily lead to a feeling of failure when you don't complete them.

But I guess the important thing is that I lost weight and felt great? Well, I didn't lose any weight 😓. In fact, I'm the largest I've ever been. The fact that I was so close to hitting a 365 day streak, and not achieving any fitness goals made me feel pretty low. That is probably why this post is coming out a quarter of the way into 2020. Every time I sat down to write it I just got bummed out about how I failed so hard.

But we can't dwell on the past, all we can do is take our lessons and move forwards. So far this year I have a far more structured food plan and I am doing all I can to cut out stress eating. No more UberEats HSPs, no more Big Brekky on a Sunday morning. No more popping into KFC lunch followed by McDonalds dinners as a reward for having to spend all day and all night coding to meet deadlines.

I'll check back in with you in 9 months to see how I've gone. Until then, let me know how tech has influenced your health goals. Do you try complete your daily rings (or whatever exists on the Android side)? Are you sick of being told to breathe? Tweet me your stories @beeradmoore.