IT DOESN’T ADD UP
If it's all the same to you, I'll just enjoy having fun instead of tracking it
It seems as though we are constantly surrounded by numbers these days.
How many miles did you ride? You should exercise 5 days a week for 30 minutes a day! How many calories did you burn? How many “active minutes” is your fitness tracker showing for today? These numbers can be overwhelming and can often turn a fun activity into work.
Maybe it’s just me. Maybe my personality just isn’t one that can work with tracker tools of any kind … fitness, calorie, etc. These are great and valuable tools for some people, but not for me.
For instance, I have a love/hate relationship with Strava (Social media app for cyclists). I like to track my monthly miles of biking and it’s great for that. However, I have a terrible competitive streak so, even when I’ve had a great fun ride with friends, I’ll get to the end and end up disappointed because I didn’t get a PR on a trail segment.
Yes, this is dumb. I realize that. As my wise boyfriend said the other night when we were discussing this very thing, “It’s all about how you use the tool. It’s not that the tool is bad, it’s just how you choose to use it that makes the difference.” So here’s how I’m going to choose to use (or not use) all these tools for the rest of the year.
Strava — I still plan to use Strava because it’s fun to see how far I’ve ridden so far this year. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with pushing myself to ride a segment of trail a little faster (especially the climbs), but it’s wise to realize that this, for me at least, isn’t the most important thing.
It’s fine to push myself, but it’s also best to think about the fun I’m having and to stop once in a while to take in the views and wait for my friends. I’ll upload my rides so that I can track the mileage, but I’m going to make a conscious effort not to focus on whether or not I got a personal record or moved up in rank on a trail segment.
Fitness Trackers — The thing with fitness trackers is that they don’t know when I’m weight lifting or practicing yoga.
The fitness tracker thinks, “Booo. You haven’t reached your goal!” when in fact I’m down here holding a plank for two minutes and seeing how many pushups I can do in a set amount of time. Excuse me, fitness tracker, if you aren’t smart enough to know this. I think I’m done with the fitness tracker.
I can’t see how it benefits me. A walk at 10 a.m. each day with a coworker benefits me; I don’t need to know how many steps that walk was.
For some people I can see fitness trackers being motivating tools or reminders to get up and move. I tend to get up and move quite a bit anyway, so I think this is one “number” tool I can get rid of.
Calorie counting systems — Many of us, I know, have tried websites that help us track our daily calories in the hopes that this will help us to successfully shed a few pounds.
When I first tried this, several years ago, I counted calories on the advice of my sister, a registered dietician. It worked and I lost some weight, which I did need to do. Now I just need to maintain my weight and I can do that just by being cognizant of what I’m eating and drinking.
My personality isn’t one that can use a program like this and take it lightly. I start thinking about whether or not I can have a beer after work, or if that’s too many calories.
I start wondering how many almonds I should eat, and at 9 a.m., I’m calculating how much I can eat for dinner. Again, it’s ridiculous and it’s why I don’t use these anymore. They work for some people; they do not help me.
Any other heart rate monitor/smart watch/sleep tracker — I am refusing to even go there. I don’t own the first two and I don’t use the sleep tracker portion of my fitness tracker. No. Just, no.
My brain wants to relax and just go for a bike ride. I want to enjoy a beer after work and not think about the calories.
I want to spend my bike rides with my friends; I don’t want to bike alone because I’ve gotten so far ahead of everyone else on the trail.
The numbers game for me isn’t a fun game anymore. It’s become a stressor in my life that I don’t need. So, aside from aiming for a monthly mileage goal and using Strava for that, I’m done with fitness numbers. Goodbye fitness tracker! Goodbye MyFitness Pal! You may help others, and I’m sure there are many who benefit from your numbers, but I am not one of them.