Helvey says fitness trackers can help measure our health, but “numbers just give us part of the story.”
The other part of the story is analyzing how you feel in your daily life.
“I definitely think they’re good for you to know how much effort you’re putting in, or it’s encouraging to see, like, ‘Oh, I did this amount last week,’ don’t you? And then, ‘Oh, I have a hundred more this week.’ Step by step, ‘It’s very encouraging. But I think where slippery operas happen, when you’re just inspired by it and it’s not about how you feel, or how you lowered your cholesterol or how you slept better because You’ve walked an extra hundred steps, ”Murdoch said.
“It should actually be about overall well-being, mind and body.”
Be kind to yourself
“No day is the same,” Murdoch explained. “Interviews or deadlines or whatever can have a whole week and you’re not meeting those goals.”
He recommends that you do not punish yourself for not fulfilling these fitness goals by overwork or overeating. “This is where it can become toxic.”
Spada says that when he gives a bad body image or struggles with bad feelings about his fitness, he asks himself three questions:
- Am I feeding myself?
- Am I removing my body out of respect for it?
- Am I resting?
“And if I choose to rest intentionally, and I’m doing joyful movements and nourishing my body, okay, then I can only thank my body for what it is doing for me. Otherwise, I’m not really in control of how my body changes … these are just under my control.
Know when to turn it off
If you find yourself feeling bad or anxious while wearing a fitness tracker, it’s okay to turn it off.
Murdoch says recognizing these feelings is half the battle, and they can be caused by a variety of things: an eating disorder, past trauma, photophobia, and society’s pressures and messages about food culture and “wellness”. And if you reflect on how your tracker is making you feel and discover that it has become unhealthy, Murdoch advises you to take a break from wearing one.
During that break, he says, ask yourself: “Do I need it all the time? Do I just need a break to reset? Do I need it at all?”
“I think it will help you determine the next step you want to take with your tracker, whether you continue to use it or not, or choose another option,” Murdoch said.
Haley said a member of her family became unhealthily obsessed with the fitness and nutrition tracking app.
“It quickly became the most used app on his phone,” Haley said. “And he realized that he was feeling the stress – in fact he was feeling the stress – what he was seeing.”
Halvey’s advice to his family members was similar to the method of recovering from his own substance abuse: Count small victories. Delete the app for the next meal, for a few hours, or for a day to regain some control.
“It’s enough to start the process that you can always keep the strap if you really want to, the app can be downloaded, all those things are there,” Haley said. “But starting with the latter, I think it’s a very valuable method.”
Haley admits that it can be incredibly difficult, because not using them “makes us think we’re giving up this valuable thing because it contains our data.”
Spada encourages anyone who is experiencing negative emotions with a fitness tracker to seek professional help, “Often, what we are doing is really a sign.”
“Of course you can turn off the fitness tracker, but are you really addressing the major concerns? If it doesn’t, it will manifest in other ways,” he says.
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