I went to this house concert through SoFar Sounds last weekend. It was quite the hipster experience with a BYOB policy, acoustic jams, perfectly imperfect outfits, and cute little dogs running around everywhere. Joking aside, it really was a fantastic time and I even made friends there plus won 2 tickets for the next round.

During the intro, they discussed how they started SoFar Sounds to basically bring back the connection to the music. The founders noticed too many people barely were engaged in the concerts they went to and this was their effort to lessen the interference –  to shrink the stage and bring you face to face with the music (literally – met each of the musicians). Ironically, the next thing out of the person’s mouth introducing SoFar was to take pictures, use xyz hashtag, follow the artists on instagram, blah blah.

Without thinking during the first set, I recorded probably a good 2 or so minutes of the 4-5 song set. I made sure to only send out the clips to friends during the breaks but still something was nagging me. Even though I had only filmed about 2 minutes of the entire set of this particular band (there were three bands), I felt like I hadn’t fully sunk in the experience. I was jumping between contexts and, for 2 minutes, was watching the concert through the lens of my phone. It’s the whole idea of a parent fumbling trying to get a camera out while their kid takes their first steps only to have the parent miss the entire thing. I didn’t record anything else after this first set.

I bring this up because I broke my fitbit recently. The poor thing had one too many military presses weighing against it that it finally just gave out. Thankfully, it was within the return policy so I eventually got a new one sent to me. For the last ~2 weeks though, I’ve done without it. The first time I went to a workout sans fitbit, I was annoyed I didn’t have a timer to time my rest periods and couldn’t tell what the hell my heartrate was. I am notoriously bad at giving myself proper rest between sets so I had started relying on my fitbit to guide me. After this first workout sans fitbit, I realized something important – I was listening to my fitbit and not to my body. It’s like when Google Maps tells you to turn right and you do so even though you’re driving through your hometown and KNOW turning left is faster.

We turn off our brains and turn on our devices.

I created interferences by having my fitbit on me. I looked at it for rest time, overall workout time (wouldn’t let myself lift for longer than an hour), steps, heart rate, etc. Looking back, I have vivid memories of me doing cardio just practically staring at the fitbit looking at my heart rate – “Why isn’t it higher? Let’s get it higher. Oh dear god I need oxygen. KEEP IT GOING YOU’VE ONLY BEEN GOING FOR 15 MIN.”

I stopped listening to my body and I stopped experiencing my body. I’ve noticed without the fitbit, I’ve been actually doing more than I normally would and giving my body proper resting periods. I know my body well enough after lifting for so many years that I know how much rest I need before I’m ready for the next set. Rather than a timer artificially telling me that 45s rest is enough, I’m tuning back in with the best tool I have – my body.

Mind you some could argue I should just be better about checking it or that I may think I’m getting a better workout but “the data will show blah blah”. To that I say, I’m human – I don’t realize how often I check the fitbit and for all the damn things fitbit tracks, it’s not tracking how often my eyeballs are staring at it. Second of all, more data =! a better workout. Exercising is about so much more than numbers – how many reps, how many sets, how much weight, how long you worked out for, heart rate etc. These are all cool numbers to track but I’ve never really tracked them. I did get into a habit of tracking my workouts for a couple of months a while back. I started each workout pausing to answer “How are you feeling?”. Looking back over that data, those feelings are what I look at now and am proud of.

It’s like the whole idea of Gatorade – most people don’t need that kind of replenishment. Sure, professional athletes do but most of us are not at that level frankly. I feel the same way about fitbit as I do about Gatorade: It’s fun to drink from time to time but it’s unnecessary.

I’ve enjoyed my workouts now more than I have in months with the fitbit. The interference is gone and I’m back to actually feeling my body put to work. It feels amazing.

Here’s to turning left even when Google maps says to go right.

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