Let me start by saying that there is no scientific backing to this post, just my personal experience. I know that many of us embark on plans to be more active and healthy following the holidays. However, I felt compelled to share my experience with fitness trackers because mine has not been successful.
I have had several fitness trackers, including Fitbit, Garmin, Leaf, and a knock-off version of the Apple Watch (yes, I am that cheap). I started with a Fitbit because it was the most popular one, and I felt I needed some motivation to get away from my desk. I switched to the Garmin because it had fewer bells and whistles, and I thought it might be less pressure to be perfect. Then, I moved to a Leaf because it was pretty and I thought if it looked nice it would be help me feel more motivated in a less “I’m a fitness boss” way. Finally, I tried the knock-off Apple Watch because it had a more advanced sleep tracking function, and I had decided I had a sleep problem. Do you see the spiral happening here?
While I know the goal is to be more fit, I experienced a significant decrease in emotional health that only got worse the more I tried to use the devices. Instead of feeling better, I felt a significant increase in guilt, shame, and anxiety. I felt guilt and shame when I did not make my daily goals; guilt on day one, and then shame after the third, five, and tenth day of missed goals. Instead of helping me sleep more, the sleep tracker made me anxious to fall asleep as I tried to prepare myself to “sleep deeply”. Again, I felt guilt and shame the next day when I checked in and saw that I missed my two hours of deep sleep the night before. Anxiety increased as I thought I would be too tired to be meet the demands of the day because of restless or inadequate sleep. Finally, all day long, the watch told me when someone texted or emailed me, keeping me in the “on” position all day long. My exhaustion increased ten-fold.
I finally realized that as a performance-oriented perfectionist, fitness trackers make me crazy. Trackers take all the compulsive parts of my personality and put them on steroids. Since learning this about myself, I have put all my fitness trackers to rest or give them to a less compulsively perfectionistic person. Instead, I try to be more intentional. I try my hardest to plan movement into my day. I try not to put too much on my plate so I can sleep most nights peacefully. And, I try to be present in my day and to my body. The more intentional I am, the more present I am, the more likely I am to move, and to be relaxed and at ease. All this intentionality supports a healthier me in a way the fitness trackers never did.
Fitness trackers are not bad or evil. In fact, for some people, they work wonderfully well. I’m not one of those people. If you are like me, don’t feel bad. You are not alone. Embrace it and look for other ways to bring intentionality to your pursuit of a healthier you.
In what ways do you seek to be intentional with your health? We would love to hear from you.
Contributed by Liz Hunt