After an intense CrossFit session last June, I grabbed my cell phone and started typing and swiping to record my health statistics for the day. Then I noticed that I had not reached my step goal.
I was still dripping after an intense workout and needed a recovery snack but instead of giving my body what it needed I tried to achieve a (19459004) mostly arbitrary ) step goal, the was set by a device on my wrist. My tracker did not know that I was tired and had just used up all my energy during training, but I made it feel like a failure.
My relationship with my step-tracker was healthy at first. [1
9659004] When I used the device for the first time, I found that my typical step count was more like 4,000 than recommended (10,000) a day. This caused me to get up and move a little more if I could. (For the record the CDC suggests adults log 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week, but the [10.0009004] 10,000-step recommendation is basically a fictitious number .) But after a while, the colorful charts and happy emojis that encouraged me to take the long way home made me feel stressed. For example, when I saw that I had reached 9,500 steps for the day, I focused on the 500 steps I had not taken, rather than the thousands I had.
For many people exercise and food trackers stimulate health promoting behavior. The devices and apps provide a reality check of how much physical activity they actually receive. In addition, the social aspect of progress in sharing goals can provide a supportive community, an encouraging group that is very valuable to many.
"People find [trackers] very motivating," says Mary Pritchard, psychology professor at Boise State University, "and they feel guilty if they do not use them. That can be good and bad. "Tracking is healthy if it motivates you to take a walk, and if you watch your progress," says Pritchard. A red flag that makes using the tracker unhealthy is when it interferes with the things you normally do. For example, they start skipping plans with friends or family to train or avoid "bad" food. My obsession had not come this far, but instead of giving me a good sense of what I had done, I often felt guilty and lazy.
When you use a tracker for the first time, it can provide useful information about how much time you need 10,000 times a day, and how much activity you normally do and how you feel when you move more. However, once you have set a baseline for the number of steps on a typical day, you can get a sense of how much effort you will need to reach your goals. If you obsessively review the progress throughout the day, you will not receive any new information.
This means that using a tracking device can take an unhealthy turn, as it has for me. I even got mad at my tracker (hey! I've just carried a 3-year-old up a hill, should you not credit me that extra ?!), but I did not take it off.  Especially if you know that you are prone to fear as I am, or focus on numbers, it is no shame to skip the tracker's trend.
As tracking apps and devices become more popular, Pritchard says she hears more stories about unhealthy usage, such as trying to take action despite injuries or illness the flu . "Sometimes we focus so much on the numbers that we stop listening to our bodies," she said. "When you are tired or ill, your body tells you [will be]:" No, not today. "" Listen to.
For me, the problem was not just a step-by-step process. I also went to dinner and was obsessed with finding a certain mix of macros and micros in my diet. Every day, red bars reminded me of the vitamins and minerals that I was not taking enough. Even before I got out of bed in the morning, I faced a shameful graphic in which I was often how many times I was restless all night .
"One of the crashes of the trackers is that many things are reporting multiple things," Pritchard said. "Sometimes they give us too much information. They do not know that we just want to concentrate on this one thing. "
It's easy for our egos to beat when we see all the things we have not achieved – even if they are things we were not. Try not to do that.
Pritchard offers a smart and simple solution that may be helpful: Check the settings on your tracking device or app to see if you can hide things you do not want to track. You may even find that if you are not distracted by information that you do not want, you'll reach your only goal faster, Pritchard says. She says she experienced it anecdotally. She once told her students to change their habit in health care and found that the students who focused on just one thing were more successful than those who tried to change five things at the same time.
healthier motivator for her. And if you decide for a tracker? You do not have to wear it every day.
There are a lot of great tactics that can motivate you to move. Finding a training partner, planning the schedule in advance, and creating a killer playlist are just some of many ideas that you might want to try . Bottom line: If a tracker becomes more of a burden than a help, there are so many other places you can ask for extra encouragement.
If you still want to carry a tracker, Pritchard only recommends that you use it regularly to find out about your progress. "If you get it for the first time, use it for a week," she suggests. "Then put it away until you want to check in again." If you decide to wear it on a daily basis, pay attention to your behavior. If at some point you think it's going to be a negative thing, put it away, she says. "You can always take it out after a break," but a break can help you to rely less on it.
Since my day of billing for CrossFit, my tracker is sitting in a drawer without load, so I can & # 39; Do not take the steps. If I choose to track down my food, I only follow for a few days, always paying attention to one nutrient.
By retracting my tracking, I also learned to listen to my body more I do not need a heart rate tracker on my wrist to let me know that I have not cooled enough to leave the treadmill . I know how it feels. Now nothing comes with my recovery snack after training.