Getting freedom from the fitness tracker!
In lockdown we have been having daily family meals together, much to the horror of my 13 year old. He asksin a good natured way (tough for a moody-swinging teen) “How everyone’s day been?” and then one of my 8 year olds asks “How many steps we have all done?”. With the exception of their dad, we all have fitness trackers, mine superior in what it does (pretty much everything except cook the dinner) which is reflected in the price but I’m a Personal Trainer, so I need it, right?
Then this week the most dreadful thing happened, my fitness tracker BROKE. When I say broke I mean the face fell off. Fell off!!!! I quickly jumped out of the pool to sort it out (not easy when you have mobility issues!!), quickly searched for a solution, tried the solution and… it didn’t work. Fuelled on by my 11 year old telling me we could just count the rest of our laps on her fitness app (and knowing I could manually add them later), I got back in the pool and swam on.
Later searching informed me this is common with my type of tracker (smart watch) and that the company will only replace it if it is within the 12 month warranty (fair enough) but they won’t mend it either – you can only buy a new one.
Since I wasn’t in a place where Amazon deliver I decided I’d just go without any tracker for a week, how hard could it be?
Harder than I thought, apparently. The first day I thought about every step I was taking without it being measured. That night I had dreams, yes, dreams, where awful things happened because I didn’t have my tracker on. Utterly ridiculous. I know. And I’m admitting this to you. I’m sure that nights sleep would have been fitful and disturbed. I can only guess this though as of course I didn’t have my tracker to, well, track it. The next morning I did my usual workout and as the exercise app I use was linked to my tracker it showed up on the app but without the calories burnt and the steps taken.
So, I made the very brave (for me) decision to delete the app and throw the tracker IN THE BIN! I know! Get me!
I spent the next week not worrying about my step count, how my exercise impacted on the calorie burn of the day or what food I put in my mouth (it tracked that too, by the way, complete with nutrient breakdown and macro count).
As the days went on the more relaxed I became. I could count my laps of the pool if I really wanted to know, I could go for a walk for a walk’s sake and not to “get my steps in” and I could sit down a relax for more than an hour without the tracker buzzing on my wrist telling me to get up and get moving. OK so that last one ever actually happened as I have 4 children and so sitting down for more than an hour doesn’t happen unless they are asleep! However, not having that buzz was relaxing nonetheless.
Halfway through the week I read something that really got me thinking. In Summer Innanen’s book “Body Image Remix” she talked about fitness trackers being akin to dieting in the way it can affect our body image.
I am anti – dieting, as you may well know, but it would appear that I had replaced my old habit of dieting with a new habit of fitness tracking. She was right. It was not enough that I did my 10,000 steps a day, that measly figure was only a goal on my resting day, Sunday. The rest of the week I “needed” to do a minimum of 90,000 Monday to Saturday so I could get to 100,000 every week. This was a figure I’d set for myself, by the way…
Only once in my long relationship with fitness tracking (post learning to walk again) had I ever got less than 100,000 in a week. Usually it was well over that figure and somewhere in the region on 120,000. I was the person who would recharge the tracker in the early evening – once I’d done my 10 hours active of course – and before I went to bed. My kids knew that if my tracker is charging, I wouldn’t get up out of my chair and that I’d often ask them to reach me things whilst telling them, “I can’t move, I’m charging my ****** (name of tracker)”.
Not one for comparisons with others, I work in the mindset field, after all, I’d not know if my tracker friends hit more or less steps than me although a couple of my more competitive friends would tell me they could never beat me.
My competition is always with myself and now that competition was over. I had unknowingly replaced one sort of diet with another. I’d replaced the weighing scale with the fitness tracker. Whilst preaching about intuitive eating, healing your relationship with food and your body to my clients, I’d become slave to another sort of restriction which I am sure I was using to value my worth in some way. My worth is not defined by the step count on the tracker. I am more than the exercise calories burnt on the app (which aren’t totally accurate anyway).
If I had been in a place where I could have received a new tracker in less than 24 hours would I have got one? Without a doubt. I am grateful to the universe that I wasn’t.
Am I telling you to throw away your fitness trackers too? Not necessarily. If you use the tracker to compare yourself to others and come up short, if you find yourself out last thing at night walking to get you steps in or you use your tracker as a measurement of your worth, then yes, I’d suggest taking it off.
As I travel back to a place of clicking a button to get instant – or almost instant – gratification – and same day delivery will I be ordering a new tracker? No. A pretty watch? Most definitely. Knowing the time hasn’t been an issue on holiday but is more useful in real life! Now that my chunky tracker is out of my life there are so many more watch options to choose from.