Dopamine & Fitness With Google Fit

Dopamine & Fitness With Google Fit

This may shock absolutely nobody – but there was a time where describing me as a ‘2 man job’, ‘heckin chonk’ or ‘sir that shirt doesn’t come in your size’ was not uncommon (or wrong). There’s been no secret made of my battles with weight. What has been an elusive story, however, is my quest to actually enjoy losing it.

My friend Joe Redstone is a few years older than me (I’ll say – conservatively, 50?) and we play basketball every Monday. He can only be described as an energiser battery on tremendous amounts of cocaine. The guy has lungs and legs for days. He’s taken tremendous care of himself and, while he may not put up the buckets in the game, by the final minutes – he’s still an absolute pitbull in the paint. Gets the ball and turns defence into offence really quick. His defensive strength is just not fair.

This week, after a particularly intense game, I just asked him how he does it. How he maintains a career and physical wellness beyond being just in shape – he’s healthy.

Very simple. But most people don’t want to do it. It’s simply hard work.

Joe, without any awareness of how dope that sounded.

He’s absolutely right. Most people’s don’t want to do it – and heck, I am not special, I’m most people. That being said, I wish to spend a little longer on the planet than previously anticipated. There have been some dramatic changes in my life over the last year (note that I even attend basketball to even ask someone about health). Previously, the biggest workout I got was playing video games for about 11 hours every… morning. During that time, I ate… everything.

Not Pictured: My left hemisphere.

Pretty, right? It becomes less and less shocking that my parter at the time would go on to cheat on me. Not only was I at risk of having a heart attack – theme parks would make me wear some kind of moo-moo with ‘Caution: Falling Boulder’ bedazzled on it. Those bastards.

That quote from Joe stuck with me, because while he has miles on my position, I went through some data and discovered something pretty ridiculous about myself. In 9 months , I’m averaging an extra 2km of running at basketball. How do I know? Because I started using my Samsung Watch and Google Fit to track myself – but also set myself some goals. Goals which are, on my wrist and aggressive in their appetite to be completed daily.

When I first began going to the gym (shortly after seeing that photo of myself), it dawned on me how fuckin’ boring it is to go to the gym. I’ve very little self-control, so if I am feeling done on the treadmill – there is nobody or anything to say ‘keep going you absolute unit’. That lack of self-control has always been my downfall. Start strong, gets tough, bail, KFC (probably).

With basketball, I am part of a team. If I don’t get back into my position – the other team has an easy route to the hoop… net? Goal. Sports. That accountability to other humans helped me increase my output from feeling like nobody would pass to me anyway – all the way to, give me that ball and I’ll show you what a god-damn hero looks like (before missing, but confidence is half the battle).

Nobody used to mark me – because I was slow, out of position and not good enough to find my range quickly. Now, as other teams set-up, I can hear them name me with their man-marking plans – and the data on my watch shows it.

Accidentally, I’ve worked hard. I’ve worked hard to the point where – even as the final few plays come in a session, I’m present and defending/attacking with some air in the lungs.

The dopamine that comes from the data has been utterly transformative in my sense of accomplishment. Tracking my heart rate over time, endurance, levels and all the rest have been so good. Google Fit isn’t the only one offering these stats on a watch – but as your resident G-hoe, I will champion them here.

More locally, on a day to day basis, I set my watch up to have 10k steps and 45 minutes of elevated heart rate per day. Since getting the watch and setting up my account in December 2022 – I have not once failed to reach the goal. Sure, it’s been half 11 on some nights and I need an extra 1k steps… but guess what? I bolt out of my front door and run. Sometimes in the rain. The markers have even increased over time, and I keep doing it.

The gamification of my vitals, steps and goals has made me work harder than I ever thought possible. So when I shrugged at Joe when he said it was hard work to be fit, it sat with me and became evident… I’ve been working hard. Really hard, 5km harder, 7k steps harder, 400kcal harder than before.

That dopamine, accountability to a team and Deborah noticing that I am not as tired after each session (but still somehow steam up the car, Titanic style with radiant heat) has made me feel 10 feet tall. Joe was right – it’s really hard work – I just didn’t appreciate that I was doing it. Am nowhere near his level, but hey – I was almost kicked off a rollercoaster in 2022 for being extra thicc. Look at me now.

… and I’m not done working at it.
Alex Watts
Alex Watts

Leadership, Public Speaking... Video Games? Alex Watts brings you musings of an askew brain being fed dopamine from all angles. Will wax poetic about dogs, basketball, hip-hop, Batman and whatever the hyper-focus is that week.

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