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Treading Gingerly: Fitness Fanaticism – A Fitbit Story Photo: Eric Thayer, Getty Images

Treading Gingerly: Fitness Fanaticism – A Fitbit Story

A tangerine guide to motivation.

I have a FitBit obsession. Ask any of my friends or coworkers and they'll confirm that I'm a fanatic.

I wear my tangerine band every second of the day – except when I'm taking a shower or cleaning the device. I've even tried to take a shower with it – I…advise against that. 

I tap the display constantly – after my morning trek into the office, after I go to the gym, after I dance around my living room at night trying to get more steps (don’t judge) – getting real-time information on my day's fitness progress. At any time, I have access to my heart rate, the number of calories I've burned, how many flights of stairs I've climbed and how many steps I've taken that day.

For an obsessive compulsive person like me, all of these statistics at my fingertips motivate me. I'm driven each day to beat my own expectations and encouraged to push myself by friends who also track stats. Beyond that, it gives me an unquestioned accountability. If I have clear information, there's no reason I shouldn't meet my fitness goals – unless I choose not to. It's my responsibility.

Analytics certainly aren't for everyone. But this works for me. And I think that's what’s important: understanding that we all are motivated differently and finding ways to reach different people. Because when you find a program that really resonates with people, it becomes fun; it becomes a choice.

I know it can be a struggle to make safety engaging. Some see it as a chore and don't want to be burdened; others think they're already safe enough and don't need to learn more.

Exercise already was a big part of my life but it turns out I still had a lot to learn about living a healthy lifestyle – tracking caloric intake and output and making smart food choices. And I haven't even minded making these changes and gaining this new knowledge because I can see the immediate reward. It has become a fun – addicting – challenge.

And I am driven by a challenge, by competition (even if I'm only competing against me). Don't play board games with me; I'm intense. Even Candy Land. Especially Scrabble.

But for others, motivation comes from a different place: wanting to be there for family; making money; receiving some sort of targeted reward; through absolutes – there is no choice but to do the thing that needs to be done; or even fear – of losing face, of losing status, of losing.

If you have a wellness program, a safety program, a cultural engagement program, you need to find that magic zone in which you get through to people, where you really make a connection. Hone in on the motivators that work for your employees.

And that effort even to connect to your employees on their level, in a place that makes sense to them, might serve as a motivator. Because we all like to feel appreciated and understood.

In a wellness program in which you encourage employees to walk, it's easy for someone to put it off for time constraints. But if you tie that program to some kind of motivator – a day off, a competition, a reward – people will make time if the motivator is right. Now, because I can gauge the impact my decisions have on my overall wellness, I make time for fitness; I make it a priority.

Without reservation, I can admit that I fully subscribe to the cult of Fitbit. Plus, doesn't tangerine go with everything?

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