I have now used my Apple watch and filled my rings for 100 days. I was curious from the start how it might affect my way of exercising, and so this feels like a good point to look back and reflect a bit.
Before the watch, my goal was to exercise every other day, anything more being a bonus I tried really hard to not turn into an expectation. Exercise meant cardio machines at the gym or, the vast majority of the time, running.
Excercise and tracking
The watch has given me much more even exercise. It has also made me appreciate the exercise value in longer bike rides much more. On the possible downside, it might be evening things out too much. I am not giving myself any days of complete rest for as long as I keep the streak going. And that in turn probably works agains any extremer excursions. Both of these things can probably be seen as positive. The "everything counts as exercise" aspect is definitely all good. I used to feel only running or gym activities really counted, but now I get the same satisfying numbers from any time I move and bring up the pulse. I run less as well, and feel no need to squeeze a run in if I am getting enough activity otherwise.
One downside of my simplified activity logging: I now have no natural place to write a little thought or comment about my exercise. Before, it was always part of my workflow to transfer my activity from my Garmin watch to Funbeat, in the process always seeing their comment field, often being reminded of and noting some thought or feeling I had during the run. Now, I sync with no service, have nothing, and thus remember less of each exercise session. A little sad in a way, because I still come up with thoughts and feelings I would like to write down. Little opportunities to write things down are often good, but not to the point of me wanting extra hoops just for that. I should tell Siri to take a note as soon as I get home, or something. (Paper and pen? The horror!)
But what next? The natural next step ought to be removing the training wheels: breaking the streak and see how my daily exercise sorts itself out. It would probably feel good in several ways, but it is darn hard to break a chain which has taken 100 days to build up …
One weird trick
Because I am such a streak-worrier, I was wondering what would happen if I fell ill before reaching the 100 line. Less than a week ago, I ended up eating some bad food and had to spend 36 hours as vertical and still as possible. My pulse was relatively high though, and the "indoor walking" exercise clearly uses pulse above accelerometers to judge activity level. A couple of hours of mostly slow-motion tossing and turning in bed filled the activity ring right up, and I am still trying to decide whether I feel happy about finding a hack and tricking the system, or ashamed to have cheated.
About those goals …
I remain as deeply split about the goal setting of the watch as I was in the beginning. I have deliberately and firmly kept my goals the same. Every week, the watch gives me the weekly summary and suggests raising the activity goal by ten percent. The goal is reachable, sure, but why? If I began following the suggestions, would it know when to stop? I want to do something which is sustainable, something which keeps me going for the long term. Letting the watch increase the pressure until I fail is not working toward that goal. Also, the whole thing of increasing goals works against the streaks concept. One is about pushing limits (and inevitably failing eventually), the other is about keeping a balanced thing going. I do not want my life to be all about exercise.
The watch as an accessory
I am surprised at how much I enjoy the watch as an object and a piece of personal jewellry. I picked up an extra band with my purchase and looked forward to getting more bands later, but in no way did I foresee ending up with six different bands within the first 90 days. I switch between them regularly too, which is a bit of a surprise in itself. Being a regular wearer of nothing but glasses and practical clothes I could just as easily have imagined myself using a single band all the time (and a second one for exercise), but I often switch bands as I get dressed each day, picking what looks best with whatever I amd wearing or best suits my mood. I expect my next band purchase to be quite a bit farther off into the future, but it is definitely out there.
I do not use a single third-party app, nor do I wish for any. The watch went into silent mode on day one and has remained there. I sometimes check the weather or tickets in Wallet, but mainly I track my health data and the few notifications I let through (mostly text messages). I talk to Siri on rare occasions, mainly to turn the lights off as I go to bed, and I do emoji responses to messages more often than I expected to. That is about it.
Sum of parts < whole
In all, here I am 100 days later, a completely happy Apple watch user. A stylish-looking exercise watch with evolving software and good phone integration was apparently something for which I had space in my life, the exercise part being the most critical, but it needed a significant amount of the other parts too to make it all the way to all-day, every day carry.
Good work, I guess.