Me and My FitbitThis week in A Family of Strangers, next summer’s release from Mira Books, I needed a scene with my point of view character, Ryan. Ryan is casual in both dress and manner, and she shops… well, I’ll let her tell you what she says about her clothing choices early in the book.

Today I wore running capris patterned with a beach scene and a long sleeved crop top shirt. Apparently it was important to protect my arms from the cold, but the designer had declared open season on my midriff.

For Christmas last year Wendy presented me with this outfit and three other running ensembles, along with bright purple headphones. That much glamour is definitely out of place in my wardrobe. Most of my clothing looks like I picked it up on sale at Dollar General, but when I run, I’m the bomb.

Wendy, by the way, is also a major character. (The above is from a first draft, so maybe you’ll see it and maybe you won’t.)

There we have my gal Ryan. In this week’s scene Ryan needed to know the time. Without thinking I had her look down at her watch. Watch? Alarm bells rang. What’s that? Ryan would rarely if ever use a watch. Ryan would wear a fitness tracker. Somewhere in her jewelry box–a jumble of items she rarely bothers with–is an expensive watch given to her by her wealthy mother, who wishes Ryan would fancy-up a bit. But Ryan only wears it when she goes out to dinner with her parents.

None of that appears in the story, by the way, but of course, I KNOW, just as I know that while Ryan might wear the jacket in the photo above (from Fitbit.com) she would never carry that purse, as pretty as it is. Just. Wouldn’t.

Ryan is, oh, quite a bit younger than I am. In fact her mom and I are contemporaries, but I’m much more Ryan in style. I have four watches, all fun, none expensive. For more than two years, every one of them has needed batteries. I never remember to take them to the jewelry store because I never wear them. Like Ryan, I wear a fitness tracker, in my case a Fitbit.

I received my Fitbit for Christmas several years ago, waiting patiently for new version that also logged my heart rate. I immediately disconnected the heart rate monitor since the flashing light bothered me. The Fitbit itself is going strong, and I wear it every day. While it’s tough for someone who sits at a computer as much as I do to log 10,000 steps, I try to get 5,000. Unlike some people I like being goaded each day to get up and get moving. I love the little flashing light show and the warm buzz when I make my goal.

I love my Fitbit.

Anything a writer details about a character should say something important. We shouldn’t have to explain why. Details pile up, and make a clear statement about who that person is. So for Ryan, a fitness tracker is just another detail. It’s an important part of Ryan’s persona. In my mind, she’s never without it.

Now an interesting–if sad–real life twist. It turns out that a Fitbit isn’t just a way to detail character traits. This week a Fitbit became an important part of a news story. While investigating a murder, the police checked the dead woman’s Fitbit, and learned the moment when her heart stopped beating. From that they were able to trace the murder to her stepfather, who was in her house at that exact time, supposedly delivering a pizza–but allegedly delivering much worse.

In the next two years, you’ll probably read a mystery or thriller in which the time of death of a murder is pegged to the second by the victim’s fitness tracker–his/her Apple Watch, or any of several devices which might give that information. The news is a great resource for writers.

In the meantime, maybe I’ll turn my heart rate monitor back on.

Do you wear a fitness tracker? A fun but inexpensive watch? An exclusive name brand watch a mugger might covet? A mini-computer-on-your-wrist–i.e. an Apple Watch or one of it’s competitors? How do you think your watch or lack of one defines you? It’s a fun question. Let us know.

12 Comments

  1. Nancy Lepri on October 10, 2018 at 3:46 am

    I got a Garmin Vivifit two years ago and have worn it steadily up until this summer when I would take it off when going into the pool. Lots of times I’ve forgotten to put it back on so it languishes in my night table drawer! Now that the cooler weather is setting in, I have to be conscientious about wearing it and force myself to get in as many steps a day as possible. As long as it’s on my wrist, I’ll be sure to move! ?

    • Emilie Richards on October 10, 2018 at 2:18 pm

      The latest one is waterproof. When or if mine finally goes belly-up, I’m heading for that one.

  2. Joni on October 10, 2018 at 5:06 am

    I have an Apple Watch & absolutely love it! I couldn’t do the traditional watch band but so I searched on Etsy for a bling bracelet band and I’m good to go!!

    • Emilie Richards on October 10, 2018 at 2:17 pm

      My husband loves his. Good tip on the Etsy band.

  3. Nancy Wilson on October 10, 2018 at 6:28 am

    A couple of years ago, the company I work for launched a fitness program and provided everyone with a Fitbit. Although I am more that twice the age of most of my coworkers, I have become legendary. New employees are introduced to me, not by my title, but by how many steps I average! The company rewards system has paid off and I have earned enough points to pay for all my shore excursions on 2 cruises! I think I’m more mercenary than competitive. It’s all about the rewards, but I’ve gone from 5000 steps a day to 15000 and feel great.

    • Emilie Richards on October 10, 2018 at 2:17 pm

      I’d be even more motivated than I am already. Good for you.

  4. Denise Almazar on October 10, 2018 at 8:44 am

    I loved this! I too have a Fit Bit. I enjoy weariing it too. I set my steps to 8000. I don’t get there as often as I would like to. But I get a kick when I do and it’s like fireworks going off on my wrist. I feel like I accomplished something special that day. I turned my heart monitor off too. After a few weeks of wearing it, it caused my wrist to hurt. So badly I had to rip the watch off to make it stop. I was surprised to find I wasn’t alone in this strange effect. It doesn’t happen to everyone one, but there are a lot of people who experience pain from it. It’s weird. I’m looking forward to your new book with Ryan next summer!

    • Emilie Richards on October 10, 2018 at 2:16 pm

      I hadn’t heard that about the heart monitor. I guess it’s a good thing the murder victim hadn’t turned hers off. But what a strange complication.

  5. Terri Chlapek on October 10, 2018 at 1:36 pm

    I have a Fitbit that is just like part of my arm. I have Fibromyalgia, so getting up and moving is very important. I have my own rule that I can’t take my afternoon Fibro nap to help my brain reset and keep the extreme fatigue at bay until I have at least 5,000 steps. With two very active dogs, it’s not that hard. I almost always have my l0,000 steps or more by bedtime.

    • Emilie Richards on October 10, 2018 at 2:15 pm

      You’re to be congratulated. You’re doing so well, despite the obstacles. Keep it up.

  6. Lynn Ross on October 10, 2018 at 2:23 pm

    I don’t wear a Fitbit because I fear what it would tell me. I don’t wear a watch anymore because it causes a small psoriasis flare-up where it moves against my wrist. I do miss a watch!

  7. Kathleen on October 10, 2018 at 10:04 pm

    I looked at buying a fit bit that just clips to your bra but I didn’t get it. I don’t usually wear a watch on my wrist. I have a small wrist and it tends to move around. I keep my iPhone in my pocket with me 95% of the time so I use my fitness pal and Endomondo applications that track steps and calories and maybe I am a little geekier than I think !?! ?

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