Tracking Every Step With An App Is Making You Crazy
Tracking every step towards your ‘goals’ is the only way to stay focused, so you can achieve your goals. Right? Well, not necessarily. Tracking everything you do in terms of food, fitness, hormones, and thoughts might be driving you crazy, slowly but surely. There’s no doubt that health trackers encourage people to live more healthy, active lives. But we are concerned about the fact that these apps don’t always tell users what they need to know.
Health and fitness apps are designed to track every move you make. This can cause quite a bit of restriction, not to mention stress when you make a mistake. People are hooked to fitness or diet apps and wearable devices. They think these apps are the best way to transform their health. We’re not so sure it’s healthy nor natural to be so obsessed with quantifiable numbers and data. They might be valid, but they paint a very sterile and narrow-minded picture of oneself.
It’s like we’ve created a world where we’re too stressed to enjoy living, breathing and exercising because we can. Instead, we’re worried about whether or not we’ve burned ‘X’ number of calories, met our macros or squashed in some meditation. It’s a tad overwhelming tracking EVERY step you take.
Also, whoever said it was okay to continuously keep track of every exercise you do during your workout is not okay. It’s a major distraction and stops you from concentrating and enjoying your workout. It may be the norm to track workouts, steps, and calories with wearable devices and apps. But, is it healthy or driving us crazy?
Tracking Every Move You Make. Is It Normal?
These days, who knows, because everything goes. So many people are working out have a wearable strapped to their wrist or a phone strapped to their arm. Utter madness. Technology is what governs us at the end of the day.
According to the research, wearable devices worldwide will exceed 74 million this year and they’re going to rise to more than 1 billion by 2022. Moreover, health-focused wearables will make up a large part of that number. Everywhere we look, there’s some sort of way to track calorie consumption or steps taken. Even brands that don’t advertise themselves as healthy. So even if you feel like you’re not one of those people guilty of tracking every move, just swipe right. Even if you haven’t bought a wearable or smartwatch to track your activity, data about your body is right in front of you.
But is it worth having this knowledge? You might just be driving yourself nuts. There’s a lot of evidence which states that tracking every move might not help everyone get healthier or fitter.
These apps might suck the fun out of life.
It’s your call.
Tracking Every Move Might Be A Disorder
A few studies have discovered a close relationship between fitness apps and mental health issues. Having instant access to data about your health at your fingertips might be causing you to feel anxious. Even worse, this knowledge can trigger or exacerbate disordered eating and exercise in some people. And clearly, fitness tracking and wearable apps are not going anywhere. Health-focused devices are being introduced in gyms, corporate ‘wellness’ programs, and advertised to children and young people. Therefore, it’s very important that we improve our understanding of how activity, food, and weight tracking can do more harm than good.
Disordered tendencies happen when you immerse yourself in tracking every detail of your life. Martin Lewis admits that he’s obsessed with tracking every step. He says he’s never done less than 10,000 steps in any day for the last three years. Sadly, he says the 10,000 steps never satisfied him. Lewis tracks his steps, has a graph of his weightlifting routine, and even keeps track of the Scrabble games he plays with his wife. Lastly, he admits that he needs to run at least 25 miles per week. Why? To ensure he loses weight.
There are so many people who are like this. Lewis ain’t alone. He’s one of many people who have embraced the idea of a ‘quantified self’ (QS). A former tech journalist Gary Wolf uses this term to describe people who measure themselves, their bodies, their behavior – in pursuit of things like weight loss, better sleep, great fitness: ‘self-knowledge through self-tracking’.
Eating Disorders Are Too Common
Those who have an eating disorder or struggle with eating will know that this is not always an obvious mental health problem. Some might not know that they are showing signs of disordered eating patterns. It stems a lot deeper than most think. With everybody tracking every move they make and having access to wearable technology and fitness apps, it could be making matters worse.
Psychologists explain that those who track their activity or food intake show higher levels of both disordered eating and exercise than those who don’t. Moreover, these people show higher levels of purging behavior like excessive exercise to control or modify weight or shape.
Therefore, it’s clear that these apps can have a major effect on your mental well-being. Sure, these apps can help you reach your goals but they can also be overly informative making you paranoid about everything you do. Tracking every calorie, strict dieting and excessive exercising are all symptoms of an eating disorder. Besides, tracking every move can exacerbate disordered eating symptoms because they fixate on all these things.
Tracking All Details Prevents Balance
Focusing purely on health-focused metrics and goal setting leaves little space for balance. Fitness and diet trackers can increase feelings of failure, self-loathing and feeling out of control. Moreover, even if you don’t show symptoms of disordered eating behaviors you might still be at risk of setting impossibly high standards for yourself. Psychologists state that tracking every move can take over and promote perfectionism. Unfortunately, this is very often difficult to achieve which promotes feelings of vulnerability and then depression.
The studies used to get this information don’t prove that trackers cause eating disorders. However, it’s clear that they have a massive impact and might worsen the issue. Moreover, people who have eating disorders are likely going to start tracking every move.
We need to use these apps carefully and ensure we’re using them for self-love, not self-critique. A lot of factors influence why a person demonstrates eating disorder behaviors. However, these behaviors can quickly turn into a full-blown eating disorder.
Moderation Is Beyond Us
It seems that fitness and health apps are increasingly taking over our lives. None of which seems to do this quite as Fitbit and fitness apps can. These apps give us a great deal of control but this often leads to obsessive behavior. On the one hand, guilt and falling self-esteem on the other.
Apparently, there are more than 165,000 health-related apps on the market worldwide. These may or may not be helping people. The reality is that there is literally an app for everything from brushing your teeth to journaling and even how to enhance your sexual experiences. It’s madness! To be honest, none of these come close to the popularity level of exercise apps. So many people can’t leave their house without their fitness trackers so that they can see how much closer they are to their goals.
Many find themselves stuck in a cycle of apps, trying to find the best one that’ll help them control their lifestyles better. Often, it leads to an obsession with body fat percentage, fitness performance and portioning each meal. If the app says you should do something, do it, right? Sometimes people develop fears of eating certain foods or not meeting the exact requirements set out for the day. Not fun. There’s so much information out there and it’s easy to get fixated on these things. It’s also easy to learn to judge how many calories are presented on the plate in front of you. Tracking every move is a stressful and detrimental process.
Whatever happened to simply eating when you feel hungry?
Go Tech-Free For A While
It’s probably best to give tracking every move a break for a while if you’ve been doing this. If you’re someone who feels very anxious tracking every step and getting feedback from a fitness tracker. And if you find yourself constantly having to reach specific, escalating targets (e.g., step counts, calories burnt), then it’s possible that your relationship with the device isn’t as healthy as it could be. Therefore, it might be best to stop using the device temporarily.
Remember that these apps are not designed for you to live your life according to numbers. Whether or not you got that workout in or ate that extra banana is not the point, nor does it define who you are. You’re meant to develop a more mindful approach to your lifestyle with the help of the app. The rest must be governed by you, not by how many calories you consume or burn and tracking every detail.
If you feel like you’re too dependent on your apps and gadgets, then try taking a break and notice how you feel without it. Learn to trust yourself to eat without tracking everything you eat. Spending this time to just let it all go and just trust and listen to yourself, is really healing.
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- Wearable Technology: Wearable technology – Statistics & Facts. https://www.statista.com/topics/1556/wearable-technology/
- Apps and Eating Disorders: Tech-Radar. Do Fitness Trackers Have An Impact On Eating Disorders? https://www.techradar.com/news/do-fitness-trackers-have-an-impact-on-eating-disorders
- Effect of Fitness Trackers: The Guardian. A Step Too Far? How Fitness Trackers Can Takeover Our Lives. https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/nov/10/counting-steps-fitness-trackers-take-over-our-lives-quantified-self
- Mental Health: Express UK. Fitness Apps Bad For Your Mental Health. https://www.express.co.uk/life-style/life/1105098/fitness-apps-bad-for-mental-health
- Tracking Every Detail Anxiety: TIME. Is Our Obsession With Health Data Making Us Crazy?