Dear Fitbit, It's Not You... It's Me
Warning: Though no numbers are used, I do retell my story with an unhealthy relationship with a tracking device
I just got done work. I brought my running shoes and a change of clothes in the car so I could go to my local park for a nice jog. I flip my wrist up (flicka da wrist), tap my Fitbit, and check how many steps I have for the day. Only that many steps?! Ugh, guess I'm running a lot today even though I feel like shit from a tough day at work. I trudge through a terrible, non-liberating, forced run to meet a made up goal that I see blinking on my arm.
It's Thursday, I'm feelin' hella strong and pumped to do a solid leg workout (maybe it was the coffee I had before, but hey I'm ready for this, I'm not going to let it pass!). Aw yeah, I got a major sweat sesh in, and I feel awesome about it. I pushed myself, but to a point that makes my body feel good and satisfied. What? My Fitbit didn't pick up on my workout? I only burned that many calories? That only got me that many steps? I might as well go for a run to make up for what I didn't get in with that workout.
Yeah so Fitbit, we need to talk.....
The want for a Fitbit started out so innocent. As a type-A personality, recovering perfectionist, and someone who loves "science and numbers," I thought it was the perfect thing to ask for one Christmas.
"It would be so cool to see how much I actually move throughout the day!"
"They say sitting is the new smoking, so this will be a great way to keep me moving."
"It'll be nice to track my runs instead of lugging around my phone."
"As an avid runner and field hockey player, this will be a good way to tangibly see my hard work and dedication."
What I didn't know was how this little piece of technology was going to be just another way for me to hide my unhealthy obsession with looking and being a certain way. Not reaching my step goal caused me to get out and walk around my neighborhood to seek that subtle vibration of hitting X amount of steps even if it was at 11:30 at night. I could see how many calories I burned in a given day, influencing how much and what types of foods I decided to eat. I wore this dang thing even when I went out in a nice, fancy outfit (yes ladiez, my Fitbit stayed on at the club, ugh) in order to not miss out on any steps in a given day. This over-exercising and not moving my body when my body wanted to ultimately led to exhaustion and an injury lasting several months.
This was not okay, and last time I checked, that wasn't honoring my body or my mind.
Without my Fitbit, I feel liberated. I know, this seems dramatic AF if you don't know what I mean, but it really is. I'm almost positive most days I haven't been hitting that old "goal," but the way I'm moving my body has already changed dramatically and I feel more free.
For example, instead of going for a long run in hopes of burning more calories, I chose to go on a bike ride with my family in nature. This was so much more soul-nourishing and enjoyable than hating every second of a forced run. I did a workout class with people I have fun with instead of doing one on my own because doing one on my own meant I could push myself to workout harder. I took a walk around my town because it was such a beautiful summer night, not because it was almost the end of the day and I needed to meet a goal. I also choose to not work out when my body is telling me no.
I don't feel like i failed, didn't do enough, am lazy, or unmotivated because I didn't meet a goal that everyone that buys one of these things gets. Last time I checked, we're all our individual cool-ass selves, and what works for me, might not work for Sally Q who also happens to wear a Fitbit.
With that being said, not wearing my Fitbit doesn't mean I don't enjoy workouts by myself or long runs. The difference is now, I go on a long run because my body is craving one. I don't bring my phone to track how many miles I go, but I go based on feel. I don't have to beat a certain mile time, and if I want to stop mid-run, I stop and walk until I feel ready to run again. This does not make me any less dedicated, motivated, or athletic, but it is honoring my body and listening to what it's trying to tell me. Believe me, the human body knows a lot more than we think it does.
Haha okay so since I'm relating my Fitbit to a break-up, I also don't want to sound like a bitter ex (ugh, aren't they the worst?). Fitbits are really cool pieces of technology that can be beneficial to some people. The reason I felt the need to write this is for anyone that is questioning whether it is healthy or obsessive. For me, it wasn't a necessary, beneficial, or healthy gadget, so it got the boot. Baiiiii.
Moving my body has been way more enjoyable without it, and I can't wait to see how else this seemingly minor change affects other areas of my life.
To do: Buy a cute watch so every time I look for the time or date where my Fitbit once was, I don't say it's a hair past the freckle. Due to my own research, it hasn't been funny since ever.