Brick by Brick: Keeping up with the Fatbot

Lately when I google ailments I keep getting the words “Common among overweight, middle-aged women”. I like being a woman, but find the rest unacceptable.

Hikes in black plastic
The middle-aged part I can deal with by disputing when that phase of life begins. It’s always ten years off. But there’s the f-a-t thing (I prefer to spell it out). You can try fiddling with the pointer on the scales or weighing in kilos (metric weight means nothing to me), but there’s still the mirror and waistband, and denial is ineffective.

And so (drumroll), I who shunned sport at school in favour of smoking in the bushes, I who for years refused to own trainers because they had been known to lead to sporting activity, bought myself a fitbit, known in our family as a ‘fatbot’.

This less than elegant piece of black plastic is now strapped to my wrist. It links to an app on my phone that counts steps and more.

The gauntlet is thrown
It rapidly became clear that if you live a non car-based lifestyle, getting to the 10,000 recommended steps is no problem, so I needed to up the stakes. That was when I discovered that you can be fatbot friends with others.

A heartbeat later, I am locked into a Weekend Warrior competition with a friend from work, who we will just call C, because he is shy. We are competing to see who does the most steps from midnight on Friday to midnight on Sunday. In my mind’s eye the challenge is handed to us by a kind of fatbot warlord in strange headgear, but actually it’s just the app sending me countdown messages.

Gloat like a butterfly
Friday afternoon at work and the clock is ticking. I decide it’s all about mental attitude and try to unsettle C to gain an advantage, Muhammad Ali style. I jog ostentatiously past the window of his office, springing high on each step to make sure he notices me. Five minutes later he jogs past my workstation. It’s game on.

The next morning I get 5,000 steps in before breakfast. I briefly feel sorry for C who has apparently done nothing so I send him a chirpy message. “Don’t go all collaborative on me,” is the reply. This will be a fight to the last limp.

Numerous taunts to and from C and it’s 23:50. I’m pacing the living room in order to be sure of winning the first day with my 25,000 steps. At 23:58 I’m waving my phone at the fatbot snarling: “Synch, synch damn you …”

Stepping groans
The following evening I’m at 48,000 steps for the weekend and 32 flights of stairs thanks to the escalators in Field’s Shopping Centre, which cheat the fatbot. I’ve considered asking a passing neighbour to wear it while jogging. I’ve considered strapping it to one of our cats.

I’m aware I’ve hit fatbot rock bottom. C is way ahead. I can no longer move and think I might need a hip replacement. I google my symptoms and find … they’re common among overweight, middle-aged women.