Gustavson Column: My new best friend, Nike Fuel Band

A Nike Fuel Band. (Nike photo)

My new best friend goes everywhere I go. He’s the first to greet me in the morning, the last to say good night. The only place he doesn’t follow me is into the shower, and that’s because his electrical circuits will short out if he gets too wet.

Meet my Nike Fuel Band.

If you’re observant, you may have noticed more and more of these strange little high-tech bracelets showing up on the wrists — or, in some instances, the ankles — of over-the-hill athletes and wannabe fitness freaks. Nike isn’t the only one that makes and markets them, but that’s the one I ended up with last summer after my daughter, grandson and I spent a day in New York City with Major League pitcher Heath Bell. (See my column of July 5, 2013, for details.) Mr. Bell swore by his Fuel Band as a way of tracking physical activities and caloric expenditures, and the former Joan Giger Walker surprised me with one as a gift shortly thereafter.

To this day, I could not tell you what a Nike Fuel unit is, but I do know I’m profoundly disappointed in myself if I don’t register at least 2,000 of those little suckers every 24 hours. When I first started out, I set a target of 3,000 units a day, but soon realized that I needed to exercise about three hours a day in order to reach that goal. That seemed a little excessive for someone old enough to have attended Woodstock, so I cut back to 2,000 units a day and have been generally successful in reaching it ever since.

Today, for example, I exercised for one hour and 45 minutes in the morning, and as this is written (at 12:45 p.m.) my Fuel Band registers 2,981 units — well above my daily goal. It also shows 1,003 calories burned and 3,668 steps taken, which translates into about two miles “walked.” So if I want to take a little nap later this afternoon, I can do so without guilt.

When the Fuel Band really comes in handy is in the late afternoon or early evening of days when I have not reached my goal of 2,000 units. More often than not, that will encourage/embarrass me into jumping on my bike or taking a 30-minute walk around the neighborhood before dinner. Otherwise, my Fuel bracelet will have been transformed into a Guilt bracelet.

My friend Sue once busted me for being “somebody who likes to keep score.” I think she was right about that, which is probably why I’ve become so close to my Nike Fuel Band. It’s sort of like an electronic coach, I suppose, and Lord knows I’ve always needed a coach. How about you?

(Disclaimer: I have never owned, nor do I have plans to ever own, stock in Nike, Inc.)

Thanks to David Carr, The Other Times’ media columnist, for his shout-out this week on the importance of preserving independent, family-owned newspapers. His case in point was The Record of Hackensack, N.J., which was first to break the Chris Christie/Bridgegate story, and I’m not saying this now solely because The Record gave me my first job as a journalist.

Mr. Carr writes: “…it’s hard to overstate the importance of local journalistic vigilance, as Erik Wemple of The Washington Post pointed out (in an earlier column about Christie and The Record). Lots of eyes and talent are focused on big national news in Washington, but there are far fewer boots on the ground in states, counties and towns, which is where services are actually delivered and where much of the money is spent.”

You must judge for yourself if this local newspaper has enough “boots on the ground” to get the job done, but I’m very pleased to be able to note that it (this local newspaper) remains, to this day, independent and family-owned.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve been spending quite a bit of time this week planted in front of the telly keeping track of what’s been happening in Sochi, Russia. And this leaves me with just one question to ask: Why is figure skating considered a sport? (Discuss.)