A number of years ago I got a FitBit. Then I updated to an Apple Watch. I was looking for ways to motivate myself to get more active, and, for a while, it worked. I would be very pleased when I saw that I had hit my step count goal, or when I saw my heart rate get to a target zone during an intense workout.
These days my level of physical activity is not where it was when I started wearing these kinds of fitness trackers and that is, in large part, due to the ongoing symptoms of Sweet’s Syndrome (and whatever the heck also might be accompanying it – diagnosis still pending). I’m certainly having to adjust to taking things much more day-by-day than I ever have. On good days I can go for a brisk walk, on bad days my joints hurt so badly that even walking around my house becomes a challenge. And yet, I continued to put on my Apple Watch each morning out of habit. Now, to be fair, this device does more than track fitness details, but I started to find the “motivating messages” (“keep moving! You can still reach your goal!”) rather discouraging. Many days it wasn’t a lack of motivation that was keeping me from hitting a certain step count. It was pain and fatigue.
This past Monday I went to put my Apple Watch on first thing in the morning as I usually do and I realized I just didn’t want to. I knew it would be another “slow” day and I just didn’t need another reminder that I wasn’t going to be hitting that magic number of steps.
I’ve now gone without the Apple Watch for 3 days and the funny thing is that on each of those days I did go for a walk. I’m not going to lie, I’m still working through a sense of “but I won’t get credit for these steps” anxiety, but I’m also learning that I kind of need to chill out about all of this. Does a walk still “count” if there is no tracker to track it? 🙂
This also got me thinking about other “trackers” I use in my life – I have the “Today” app on my phone (tracks “good habits”) and I use Bookly to track the number of hours I spend reading. Why? What is the point of tracking my activities so obsessively? I guess I can see some positive benefits of this, but now that I’m living with a chronic illness I can also see a big downside — there is this enforced pressure to live up to a certain standard (How many steps did you take? How many books did you read? How many words did you write?) day in and day out. My reality is that each day brings vastly different conditions and I have to be able to be ok with this. I think these trackers are adding to my stress and anxiety around having a chronic illness. So, I’m going to ditch them — maybe for a while, maybe for good.