It’s no secret that I love my Apple Watch. Ask any of my friends and family and they’ll tell you that I rarely go anywhere without it. The convenience of receiving notifications and text messages right on wrist simply can’t be beat, and being able to check sports scores or get a weather forecast without having to search for my phone is fantastic too. But probably my favorite aspect of the Apple Watch is its ability to track my workouts and keep me focused on my fitness goals. In fact, Apple’s little wearable even managed to motivate me to exercise every day for a full month, which turned out to be both grueling and highly satisfying.
Anyone who has ever used an Apple Watch is probably already aware of its fitness tracking capabilities. When you initially set up the device you can provide it with basic information about your height and weight and a rough estimate of how active you are, which it then uses to set daily goals for the number of calories you should burn and minutes that you spend exercising. The watch also tracks how long you’ve been sitting in one place and will prompt you to stand and move about if you haven’t done so for an hour. These goals are then visually displayed on the screen using three concentric circles, each of which fills in with a different color as you edge closer toward achieving your goals.
Keeping tabs on your progress is a cinch; I often find myself checking in throughout the day just to see how close I am to reaching my objectives. It is a fun and addictive way to stay motivated, which is enhanced even further with the help of various awards that the Apple Watch adds to your fitness profile based on your performance. Those awards, which are viewed in the Activity app on your iPhone, are given for such feats as reaching your goal every day for a week, hitting certain calories-burned milestones, or setting new records for minutes exercised. They are represented by colorful little icons and provide bragging rights when comparing your accomplishments with others.
The Activity app also displays the awards that you have yet to earn, which can serve as motivation to go after them. Case in point is the Perfect Month award, which is given when you achieve your Move goal (calories burned) every day for an entire calendar month. This seemed like an achievement that was out of reach for me. My daily active calorie goal is quite high, making it almost impossible to achieve on a rest day, for example. On top of that, things often come up in a busy month that can prevent you from working out every day.
In October, I mentioned to my wife–who is also an Apple Watch wearer–how challenging getting the Perfect Month award would be, and she suggested that we both try to get that particular achievement during the following month. I was a little hesitant at first as I thought about the daunting task that would lie ahead. For me, it would mean no rest days whatsoever from a workout routine that already includes a lot of running and cycling. I knew that it would be a real grind and that my legs would be dead tired at times. But I was also intrigued by the possibility of adding that particular award to my list of Apple Watch achievements, even though I knew that in order to get it, I’d have to push my body a bit harder than it was used to.
I took it easy in the last week of October to prepare for the challenge ahead, and by the first of November I was feeling fresh and ready to go. Over the course of the following four weeks, however, there were times when I wondered what I had gotten myself into. Without proper rest days, my body ached constantly, and hitting my daily goals came with a sense of relief rather than a feeling of accomplishment.
As the month dragged on we had to deal with a number of challenges, some of which went well beyond simply staying motivated to work out every day. For instance, bad weather can frequently be used as an excuse to skip an outdoor run, but that would mean not reaching my goal for the day. When cold temperatures and rain arrived on the scene, I had no choice but to suit up and head out into the elements. We also had to schedule workouts around the busy Thanksgiving holiday when many friends and family members were in town. Worse yet, we also had to deal with a death in the family and making a 10-hour road trip each way to attend the funeral. But through it all, we stuck to the plan and found time to work out, even when we didn’t really want to.
In the end, we were successful in reaching our goal and added the Perfect Month award to our list of Apple Watch achievements. Along the way we learned a lot about ourselves, and what we are capable of when properly motivated. For example, we discovered that we could find time to work out even when things got hectic and crazy. We also learned that discipline and dedication are a big part of leading a healthy lifestyle, even if the motivation to do so does comes from a tiny electronic device that you wear on your wrist.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter where the motivation comes from, as long as you get the results you are after.