Apple Watch has already had a long lasting and meaningful impact on my life.
There was nothing special about the afternoon of May 1st, 2015, at least not that I was aware of at the time. I definitely didn't know it was going to be one of those "First Day Of The Rest Of Your Life" type of days, and when I heard the FedEx driver ring my doorbell, I didn't think he would be handing me the most important piece of technology I'd ever purchased. Of course I knew what was inside of the box and was excited to try it out, but I could have never predicted the profound impact it would have on my life. May 1st, 2015 was the day I took delivery of my Apple Watch, and I haven't been the same person since that moment.
That afternoon, I clicked my new watch onto the charger, kicked off the setup process, and waited for the all-clear to strap it to my wrist. During setup, I repeatedly looked down at the watch I was already wearing and felt nothing but guilt. It was a Citizen Eco Drive that my wife had given me a few years prior as a birthday gift and the thought of leaving it on my night stand from now on was already causing some inner turmoil about my Apple Watch purchase. I am not known for adapting well to change, and this felt like a betrayal. All thoughts I had of using my new watch to help me get healthy were slowly being replaced by buyer's remorse, but I ignored my apprehension. When my brand new 42mm Space Gray Apple Watch Sport was done charging and initializing, I strapped it to my wrist.
At that particular moment in my life, I weighed 249 pounds, had high blood pressure, and suffered from chronic joint pain caused by psoriatic arthritis. I had three degenerative discs in my lower back that constantly gave me problems. My blood work indicated that I had fatty liver, a pre-disposition for diabetes, and high risk for heart disease. For my height, age, and gender, I was at least 70 pounds overweight and well into the "obese" range of the body fat spectrum. Simple tasks like bending over to tie my shoes or going up a short flight of stairs were often challenges for me. At the age of 38, I was feeling and moving like a very old man.
I decided that my first plan of attack with the Apple Watch would be to simply get myself moving, and I figured a nice long walk would be a good test of my new hardware. I made sure everything was synced up and working correctly, and headed out into the neighborhood. By the time I got back home, my watch notified me that I had walked briskly enough to fill the green fitness ring, and rewarded me with some congratulatory words. It seemed pleased with my efforts. In turn, I was pleased with myself.
The next day was a Saturday, and I decided to go out in the morning and log some more walking. 45 minutes later, I was back at my house and rewarded with another filled green ring, a pat on the back from my Apple Watch for getting up so early to exercise, and a little trophy on my screen for breaking yesterday's walk record. Much like earning an achievement in a video game, these little tokens of accomplishment were more or less meaningless, but at the same time, incredibly addictive. Suddenly I wanted all the rewards and all the rings filled. I would walk for miles and miles and miles until I lost those extra 70 pounds, and my Apple Watch would help me do it. I had tried so many times before to lose weight, but I was cautiously optimistic that this would be the time it would work.
I was correct.
Four and a half months later, I was walking, biking, or using the elliptical trainer on a daily basis. Some days I was even doing one workout in the morning and one in the afternoon. I was also logging every bite of food that went into my mouth and sticking to a strict calorie limit. I had lost roughly 40 pounds. All of my old clothing looked ridiculous on me and had to go to get new cloths (because this was going to be an expensive point in the weight-loss process, I got to know Goodwill), My blood pressure had gone down significantly, and after several weeks of physical therapy, my back and knees were no longer bothering me.
Even more incredibly, I had become virtually unrecognizable to people who hadn't seen me in person for awhile. This became evident to me at a Halloween party I was attending with my wife and kids. There were several people there that I had met and spoken with many times before, and I noticed pretty quickly that none of them were talking to me this time. The people who were speaking to me, were doing so as if we were total strangers making small talk. I eventually realized that it was probably because of the weight loss, but as we were leaving the party, the host said to my wife, "Everyone is in the kitchen asking if you got divorced and then remarried very soon after. They don't know this is still Chris." It was the best compliment I had gotten from anyone in years. My hard work was paying off.
It's now February 2016, and I am still wearing my Apple Watch daily. I weigh 179 pounds, which means I've lost an even 70 pounds total. My blood work shows signs of fatty liver. I don't put a lot of stock in BMI, but I'm officially in the "healthy" section of the BMI scale. I'm no longer crippled by back or knee pain, and my heart no longer pounds when I climb a staircase. I challenge my kids to races and sometimes even win them. I walked 20,000 steps a day on a recent family vacation to Disney World and still had energy to burn after dinner.
Throughout this entire process, I have used the Apple Watch to track my workouts, look at my health trends in HealthKit, and integrate calorie burn into my daily food logs. I continue to be baffled by some of the more vocal critics of the Apple Watch who think that it doesn't have a reason for existing or a killer app. I hope some of those critics read this article or the countless other articles that tell similar stories to mine. I am living proof that Apple's vision for this type of device is at least pointing in the right direction, and that a smart wearable might just be the catalyst that many people need to finally get healthy and be more aware of their habits. We need that kick-start so badly in the United States, where two thirds of us are obese and likely on a crash course with diabetes.
I am certain that the release of the Apple Watch has already had a long lasting and meaningful impact on my life. I can't wait to see what the future holds for this platform, and I will always remember May 1, 2015 as being the day I strapped that little rounded rectangle to my wrist and took my life back.