[The Activity Tracker Trap] Support or Sabotage?

As I stood in front of the squat rack, getting ready to complete my fourth set of heavy squats, I looked down at my wrist and realized I hadn’t hit ˜START’. I felt like crying.

My brain went into panic, frustration and anger that I had been ˜so stupid’ and not pressed the ˜START’ button “ now my workout was ruined.

 

Did you get one for Christmas so that you can track your calories, steps and sleep cycle? In a world where everything is available on our phone¦and our wrist it’s no wonder these trackers are appealing!

They help to track your goals and resolutions, they allow you to get a reality check on how often you move and how many steps you are taking each day.

Now’s probably a good time to tell you that I have an activity tracker, in fact I’ve had 3 since 2011. My very first was the Body Bugg which I wanted because it was featured on The Biggest Loser, and at that time I was obsessed with Jillian Michaels and her ˜in your face’ approach to weight loss.

The Body Bugg was a slightly different approach, with a sensor which you wear on your arm and a watch which tracks movement and calories. The idea is that you wear it 24/7 “ the only exception was in the shower, which at the time felt frustrating.

Am I not burning a number of calories whilst showering?

The second tracker I bought was the Nike + GPS tracker. I invested in this tracker because at this point I was running and as I tried to improve my times “ carrying my phone was no longer practical. This watch served me well, I completed many runs using it and would upload my times directly to Facebook to share my progress.

If I started running, and then realized the watch hadn’t started syncing, I’d walk back to the beginning and start again. I refused to not allow my watch to track EVERY bit of movement I made.

Right now I have a Polar A300. I wanted to have something which tracked not just my steps/running but all my workouts. I had moved away from cardio based workouts and wanted something to track all my activity and I knew my sleep was suffering so I could keep a track of how many hours sleep I was getting. Seriously, I liked the fact you could change the colour of the band.

In 2015 when I was focused on gaining muscle, I noticed that my strength training routines just weren’t cutting it when it came to my daily % – if I started running sprints I could get to 50% by 9am…and that seemed important.

As I stood in front of the squat rack, getting ready to complete my fourth set of heavy squats, I looked down at my wrist and realized I hadn’t hit ˜START’. I felt like crying.

My brain went into panic, frustration and anger that I had been ˜so stupid’ and not pressed the ˜START’ button “ now my workout was ruined.

 After having my son, I had spent months working on my squat form and re-building my strength. I had been making steady progress in the gym, losing fat, changing my body shape and I felt like I’d found myself again. Yet within a matter of seconds I had decided that my entire self-worth and physical progress only mattered if it was recorded in my watch.

Holy heck!

 

Activity trackers serve a purpose, they are great for accountability, but not only have I experienced the mind f*ck that comes along for the ride so have many of my clients.

Last fall I had two clients who decided it was time to put away their fitbit because it was no longer serving them, in fact it was holding them back “ too often our progress becomes a numbers game.

Number obsession plagues us.

I’m well aware that many of you reading this are probably looking at your wrist and thinking œbut I like my tracker, it supports me. Support and accountability is a good thing, but my challenge to you is this:

If the tracker stopped working right now, and you couldn’t get another one “ would you still feel successful? Would you still feel like you could go for a walk, jog or run? Are you taking action because you can, or because you’ll let the tracker down?

 

Your body knows what’s up even if you don’t press ˜START’.

 

You took action even if it’s not recorded.

 

Since I had that meltdown in the squat rack, I haven’t really used my tracker. It’s been useful to track rest time between sets, but I’ve been very focused on NOT looking at my daily percentage.

Upon reflection, from the moment I put my first activity tracker on, I was using it as a reason to move. Movement wasn’t automated for me until 2015, it was still a struggle and over the course of five years I still found myself caught up in the ˜dieters mindset’ that to lose weight I needed to manipulate calories with exercise.

For most of my life I put my self-worth in a number, and I refuse to put my health in a number.

How you feel about your body is your choice to make, no amount of tracking should change the positive action you are taking, yesterday, today or tomorrow.

 

 

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3 thoughts on “[The Activity Tracker Trap] Support or Sabotage?

  1. Dr. Andrea Dinardo says:

    Another great post! Thank you Melanie. :

    Personally, I despise the activity tracker. My mom bought me one for Christmas last year and I gave it back to her. She loves it! It motivates her. I hate it! It felt like a prison. Literally.

    I use the “lose-it” app to track my fitness and nutrition goals. Keeps me on target. Without the constant reminder.

    🙂

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