How my body rejected activity trackers and the ‘quantified self’

One person, four trackers. On the wrist, the Jawbone Up and Nike FuelBand. On the upper arm, the BodyMedia Fit, with a Fitbit One clipped next to it. The BodyMedia is shown lower than normally worn, for illustrative purposes. Same, too, for the Fitbit. It's normally worn clipped to the waist.

Earlier this year, I set out on a grand journey. I tested several activity trackers all at once, to decide which was the best in accuracy and in motivating me to lose a few pounds. Today, they sit unused on my desk. And I weigh pretty much the same.

What happened? For one, perhaps no one should try to use four activity trackers at the same time. Trying to stay on top of how they all compared ended up feeling like exercise itself.

But ultimately, I perhaps lost my motivation to be motivated by these devices by knowing too much about them. Realizing that three of them were missing out on some of my exercise made me not want to bother with them tracking anything at all.

Assuming they could “quantify” me and my activity accurately — as my fourth device, the BodyMedia Fit seemed to do, I found I had no interest in turning to my smartphone or my computer to try and churn through the data, not for the daily update and “nudge” that I needed.

Clearly, many people do feel motivated by these gadge… [Read more]

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