The nifty fitness tracker. A handy device that allows you to track your fitness goals, monitor your sleep, check your heart rate, track your calories and easily access notifications. But is it all that ‘healthy’? Whilst it can be helpful for some, it can be harmful to others. But how so? It all comes down to the anxiety that some people can develop around always needing to have this device on them – to track every step, every workout and every calorie burnt. Trust me, I’ve been there myself.
Over the past 5 years I have had 3 different fitness trackers, all of which I became obsessed with wearing (not all at the same time btw). Having an obsessive personality, this was bound to happen, but I didn’t realise this until just recently when my mum asked me why I was still wearing my FitBit after I had told her many times that I ‘didn’t use it to track calories’, when truthfully, that was the only thing I was using it for. I find it so embarrassing to admit, but I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that I was using such a device to track all the ‘energy’ I was burning (as well as the energy I was consuming, but we’ll get to that later). You see, even the companies themselves have stated that their devices aren’t 100% accurate at measuring calories, workouts and heart rate, yet I still went ahead and developed extreme anxiety around it.
I honestly think that notion of counting calories is absolute BS. This is something I’ve sadly only come to terms with recently. There is no such equation that allows us to calculate the exact calories that we will burn in a day. Yes we have an equation that gives us a rough idea of what our BMI (Basal Metabolic Index) is, but this is only a rough idea. You see, each and every day will be different. We might be more active one day and more sedentary the next. We may feel the need to eat more on those days we are moving more, or we might feel we need to eat the same as we would on slower days. We are all bio-individual; each of us has individual nutritional needs depending on a range of factors including natural body shapes and sizes, metabolism, body tissue composition, genetic backgrounds, hormonal function and activity level. All of these factors have the ability to speed up or slow down your metabolism, that is, the production and utilisation of all energy processes in the body.
I have been through my ups and downs with calorie counting. I went through a rough patch where I used an app to track all the food I was consuming. That was a long time ago, but there are occasional days where I may worry I’ve eaten too much. I try so hard on those days to brush the worries aside. I think the control I’ve had in the past will hang around for a long time, it’s just a matter of pushing through and enjoying life.
Now I’m not putting down fitness trackers completely – I think they are fantastic for those who need some guidance in being active. I’ve spoken to a lot of people who feel motivated to exercise and keep up the steps when they wear their fitness tracker. I think this is completely okay! But if you feel like it’s taking a toll on your everyday life, especially if you’re an over-exerciser and don’t need to wear one per se, maybe consider going a few days cold turkey from it and see how you go.
Please feel free to contact me at any time if you would like know more about how I convinced myself to stop wearing mine or would like to share your story.
Disclaimer: If any health professional has advised you to wear your fitness trackers for medical or health reasons, please discuss with them first before you consider stopping wearing your device. This post is only intended as guidance for those who may feel pressured whilst wearing theirs.