For this Wellness Wednesday, I’m chatting about goals, fitness trackers, steps, technology and all that jazz. These tools aren’t inherently bad, but may be inhibiting you from achieving the true healthy lifestyle you desire. Read on for a quick quiz to determine if your gadgets are helping or hindering your health.
Do My Gadgets Make Me Healthier?
- Do you feel a sense of shame or guilt if you don’t meet one of your goals for the day (calorie tracking, steps counted, exercise minutes, etc).
- Do you let achievement of certain numerical benchmarks determine your contentment with the day?
- Do you alter (or cancel) your social plans so that you can stick to your goals?
- Do you have to be tracking the calories burned or minutes exercised to enjoy movement/physical activity?
- If you took a day completely away from all your technology trackers, would you feel lost or unguided?
- Do you “punish” yourself the next day (additional exercise, extra ‘clean eating’, no dessert, etc) if you don’t meet your goals on a given day?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, it sounds like your reliance on gadgets, tracking devices or even just specific numerical goals is preventing you from living the fullest, happiest and healthiest life possible.
Here are two simple things you can do to work on finding freedom from these parameters:
Go one week without tracking anything specifically.
See how it feels. It may be difficult at first, and you may feel a bit lost or overwhelmed with the decisions to be made. Just roll with it and give it some time. At the end of a week, look back and decide if that week made you feel better or worse than a normal week of tracking does. Do you feel physically different? Do you feel mentally different? Do you feel emotionally different? Give yourself some time to dive into these questions and reflect on whether or not those trackers are actually adding to or subtracting from your best life.
Set some non-scale, or non-numerical goals.
If your goals (or the reason you track your calories/exercise/steps) revolve around weight loss or managing your calorie expenditure vs intake, take a break from them. To replace them, set 1-3 new goals that are non-weight related, or just non-numerical.
For example, instead of “walking xx,xxx steps each day” set a goal of making a walking date with a friend or trying out a new group fitness/yoga class you’ve had your eye on.
Instead of “only eat dessert 2 times this week”, your goal might be “honor my cravings and tune in to what I’m actually wanting/needing in a given moment”.
Instead of “eat only xxxx calories today”, you plan to “honor my hunger and fullness cues, to stop eating when I’m comfortably satisfied instead of overfull/stuffed”.
Instead of “dinner will be <xxx calories” you might set a goal of cooking dinner at home twice that week, rather than your usual eating out.
Instead of “lose x pounds this month,” you could aim to do one positive affirmation in front of the mirror every day for the month.
Whatever your new goals are, share them with someone for accountability purposes. It may be hard to let go of your usual specific goals, and you may not feel the same sense of accomplishment that hitting those numbers usually gives you.
BUT, at the end of a week or two of setting non-scale, non-numerical goals, take a moment to reflect on how it felt. Did you feel freer? Did you feel less worry/stress about the guilt you know you’d experience if you didn’t meet your goals? Did you feel like the way you were living live was making you happy instead of your daily step achievement or calorie number providing your sense of joy for the day?
Don’t get me wrong, I love technology. I think it’s cool and provides a lot of unique opportunities. But I also think when we make our health success dependent on some arbitrary number like calories burned or steps walked, we’re handing over the keys to our joy and confidence.
Hold on to your keys, people! YOU are the one in charge. You design your healthy living journey. So design it with YOU in mind. Choose goals that actually relate to how you feel (physically, mentally, emotionally) at the end of each day. And if you need to ditch your trackers to find freedom from those restricted ideas about health, then ditch ’em!