Are we too dependent on technology? We’re all guilty of being on our phones too much, but what about wearable fitness technology and health and fitness apps?
I’ve been a personal trainer for over 20 years and a lifelong athlete, so I’ve kept track of a lot of stats.
I studied kinesiology in university along with things like biology and physiology, so stats used to be a big part of my life.
Whether it was weights, protein intake, body fat, VO2 max, water intake, calories, mile run — I’ve measured it all.
If you can measure it, I’ve tracked it.
I’ve also seen what this looks like at the highest level. I have been fortunate enough to train alongside professional athletes, fitness competitors, and a few Olympians.
These people were genuine machines, and I got to witness what real dedication is. Every minute of their day was planned out, and each meal they ate was set.
But this is a tiny percentage of people who get to that level. There is also a very brief window for when you can hit this peak performance.
At the same time, I can’t tell you the amount of promising elite athletes I’ve seen that became completely burnt out from how regimented their lives needed to be.
Along with the burnout, many of these athletes just abandoned their sport altogether and ended up hating anything to do with health and fitness.
Today, it seems we have put ourselves in the same boat. We have access to an overwhelming amount of data, stats, and technology from our phones, Fitbits, and fitness apps.
Are these things really doing your health and happiness any favors — or causing more problems than they’re worth?
The Day I Finally Tracked too Much
What happens when too much of your health and fitness journey becomes overly regimented?
What are the effects of tracking every move you make and every single thing you put in your body?
I still play in some competitive sports leagues and train regularly, but I’ve stopped tracking pretty much everything.
As a trainer, I would often push wearable technology. I was adamant about sharing the importance of tracking progression.
Until one day I missed my daily step count by 20 or so steps.
This felt like a complete failure, and it actually made me feel like I wasted the day when it came to health.
Something in me finally clicked that I should just take a step back and take things a bit easier.
I’m not sure if you have found yourself in the same situation, but here’s what I found came from being too dependent on the numbers and technology.
I Had Stopped Listening to My Body
You’re not a robot — you’re a biological organism. It’s hard to always stay consistent when you consider the hundreds of variables that can affect health on a daily basis.
Some days will go great, others, you may feel like crap.
There’s also the issue of getting stuck in a rut — and that may do your body no favors.
When you are stuck with the same rigid schedule of exercise and nutrition, it may leave you feeling unmotivated and simply going through the motions.
You can’t always go balls to the wall every day, and being too stuck in a routine prevents you from listening to your body.
If you are run down, sleeping poorly, and feeling stressed — your body is calling out for rest.
Your body won’t get that rest if you feel you have to continuously perform the same high-intensity training because an app told you to.
You may also feel hungrier on a day for a variety of reasons. Your body could use more nutrition, but you can’t because your nutrition calculator has told you that you already had enough.
When you don’t build variation into your life and routine, you may get stuck in a mindless rut. Consistency is important, but not if it comes at the expense of your health and well-being.
With tracking technology — whether it be a Fit Bit or phone — I felt like I was in a video game where I was just trying to hit the numbers instead of listening to my body.
It’s Easy to Become too Consumed With Numbers
Tracking technology is amazing, but it may make you look at your body as a calculator instead of a living, breathing thing.
For myself, I felt like I had to enter in the right equations and hit the right marks if I was to make any progress in my health.
Too many years of tracking stats started to feel robotic instead of organic and natural. You might find yourself in the same situation.
My health process seemed more about numbers, graphics, and charts than how I was feeling.
If you become too consumed with entering numbers into MyFitnessPal, you may not be listening to how you really feel.
Has Wellness Become Out of Reach?
I think many of us may need to take a step back and address this.
If your pursuit of health and fitness has got to the point where you are stressed about the number of steps you have taken each day — you may have got off track.
If you are overwhelmed and beating yourself up because you didn’t get the required servings of vegetables on any given day — I’m afraid that’s not true wellness.
I’ve seen people panic because they realized they forgot to wear their Fitbit to a workout. We survived for a long time without these things — now; it seems impossible to exist and get healthy without one.
If your health pursuits are causing stress and anxiety in your life, you may be taking a few steps backward instead of moving forward.
If your 6 pack abs have come at the cost of your sanity, It’s going to be important to take a good hard look at what you want from your pursuit of health and fitness.
Remember: This is Supposed to Make You Feel Good
Remind yourself why you started this health journey. You committed to this self-improvement as you wanted a healthier life.
You definitely don’t have to slack pursuing it — but give yourself some room to breathe.
If you had to cut a workout short — don’t beat yourself up. Remind yourself that you were still active, and that’s a lot better than sitting on the couch all day.
Did you miss your daily step count by a little? Oh well, it doesn’t matter. What does matter was that you were still as active as possible.
Did you not get an adequate serving of greens one day? Let it go. You were still aware of your nutrition and you’ll get back at it the next day.
Did you only do two sets of an exercise instead of three? Whatever; you were still being physically active and challenging your body.
The most important thing is to remind yourself why you are doing all this: exercise should leave you feeling good and wanting more.
Meals should be enjoyable and make you feel good, too. Have your treats here and there, but just focus on making the best possible nutrition decision in whatever situation you find yourself in.
Don’t beat yourself if you didn’t have a perfect day. One healthy meal will not transform your health, and one poor meal will not destroy it.
If you miss a workout, it will not derail all your progress in the same way that one workout will not completely transform your health.
Final Thoughts: Focus On Progress and Not Perfection
These days, this is what I focus on: progress, not perfection. Have I moved forward and made some positive choices that can benefit my health?
Your health, nutrition, and fitness will never be perfect. Instead of being consumed with hitting certain numbers and targets — give yourself that breathing room.
It’s time to take a more organic approach to health and actually listen to your body — not the technology.
You may find wearable technology and fitness tracking beneficial.
It can still be helpful to see progression and where you’re at, but if you become fixated on the numbers — it may leave you feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and defeated.
When you get rid of the Fitbit, technology, apps, and stop worrying about the numbers — you may end up healthier and happier than you’ve ever been.