So here I am, surrounded by serenity and paradisiac scenery on day 3 of my holiday in La Gomera, and what happens? My super-sensitive stomach has decided to let me know I am indeed on holiday and it plans to keep me chained to my apartment for a few hours. That’s ok. I spent 6 months in South East Asia with this stomach. I had a month in Japan with this stomach. I survived my honeymoon in Cuba with this stomach. It’s not going to stop me now. And it seems fitting that I have a somewhat-forced few hours of recovery while I write this particular blog post, because today is all about checking in with myself. Being super conscious of how I’m feeling and careful about how I treat … me. You see, something has occurred to me recently…but I won’t start there. Let me start at the beginning.
Some 3 or 4 years ago I recognised a need for change in my life. I was unfit, unhealthy, yo-yo’ing my way through various diets. I realised that I wasn’t getting any younger and my habits had to adapt if I was going to push into my 30’s with a semblance of vibrancy. So where to start? I started where so many people have kick-started a healthy lifestyle; I started with the purchase of a FitBit. I didn’t even wait to get it home. I strapped the black rubber band on my wrist and started my tracked-walking immediately. From the outset I was hooked and I was drinking that blue, refreshing cool aid. So much delicious data in one place! As time moved on I integrated everything into this handy app; MyFitnessPal spoke to my FitBit app and I could see at a glance how my day was progressing or not progressing and I could take remedial measures to improve things. As the technology improved, so did the ability to track and measure, becoming more and more aware of “performance” at all times. For example when the FitBit firmware was updated, not only could I see the hours that I had spent sleeping, but I could see the quality of my sleep as well. I could see the minutes that I had spent in deep / light / REM sleep. Combine this with the amount of carbs / protein I had ingested in a day, how much water I was consuming and the daily fluctuations of my weight there really was no area of me that I didn’t know about.
This snowballed over the years, gathering momentum and integrating into every facet of my life. Before I really knew it I would start thinking in strange, disjointed ways about myself: “I feel anxious today, but my heart rate is average…I must be fine so?”. “I feel tired today, but I’m only on 5,432 steps. I have no reason to feel tired! Get up and move, fat-ass”. “I feel refreshed this morning but I only slept 4hrs 28mins with only 32mins of deep sleep; my feeling refreshed isn’t possible?”. I didn’t pause to question this thought process until recently, following my surgery when…pause for dramatic effect…I took off my FitBit. I had no obvious tan anywhere else on my body, but wrapped around my wrist lay a white strip where my FitBit should have been. The soft underside of my wrist was kissed with a delicate red mark, where the heartrate / sleep sensor had been sitting and irritating my skin. For 3 years. Without any real pause. And so off came my fitbit as I recovered from my surgery, to give myself a chance at a break without putting myself under pressure to achieve 10,000 steps when I should be aiming for none.
A week or so passed, and I found that I was beginning to reconnect with myself. When Richie would ask me if I slept ok, my first response was not to pick up my phone and check how well I had slept. My response was to reflect on my own experience to answer this personal question. Think about that for a second, because this is no hyperbole. When asked how well I had slept, I would consult the annals of my phone for inquiry. My answer would be found in my app. “Yep. I got 6 hours 14 mins of sleep. I feel great” Sorry. But can we at least agree on one thing. That is messed up! That behaviour is indicative of a complete disconnection from my body and physiology. 3 years had passed and subconsciously, without my noticing or questioning, this highly-intelligent piece of technology had formed a symbiosis with my biology and behaviours. And what’s even more striking was how completely fine I was with it. It was invited. I was happy!
Now, this is fine for most people and most people will oscillate with a FitBit, wearing it on and off and it won’t take on too much prestige for them. And more power to you if you are that kind of person! But for those of you who know me, you probably know that I can be intense in my neurotic, slightly obsessive behaviours. I jump in. With two feet. And I defintely jumped into tracking my life. Down to every, single, minute detail to the point that it was becoming unhealthy and disruptive. And so I share my story with you here and I challenge you to question your own behaviours from time to time. Check in with your original objectives or your goals, and challenge your methods or how you get there.
A “healthy lifestyle” was what I set out to achieve 3 years ago, and that was certainly achieved, but if it is done so at the cost of my sanity or my mind-body connection, then is it worth it in the long run? How healthy is it, really, to gamify your life? How much do you want to be quantifying your behaviours, using an external piece of technology to tell you how you feel? Is that kind of physical disconnection something you really want to foster? Honestly, where do we draw the line here? Maybe you’re the kind of person who is excited by the idea of your jeans telling you when you are getting fat. But for me things have taken a step too far. I have made a conscious decision to foster a sustained, intelligent relationship with my own body and to govern my own diet and exercise decisions. So we are breaking up. I am announcing the end of the profound, 3 year relationship that I had developed with my FitBit. It’s not you. It’s me. You’re still a great fitness tracker, I just need to start seeing other watches…
It has served me well. But it’s time to cut the chord. One used FitBit for sale.