I have a Fitbit Blaze that I love, most of the time. I love it as a watch – the numbers are nice and big and easy to read. I like its heart rate monitoring as well, but only because it set me free from the chest strap. As to the accuracy of its readings – mostly I don’t care. M is the big proponent of heart rate monitors. As a runner, he like to measure these things. For me, as a diabetic, he wants me to be aware of what my heart rate is doing should I start to feel weird or poorly. Then there is the sleep tracker – I find it fascinating to know how much I am sleeping and to look at the graphs and see how well I slept and compare that to how I actually feel. There is no science involved; I am seeking validation for feeling good, great, or not so much of either from my watch.
As long as I stick to those very loose parameters of use and the whole monitoring and tracking thing, I love my Fitbit. The problems start the minute I step outside those parameters.
Monday J got started on a new style of List that seems to emphasize more cardio and such than our typical weight training style. While I am sure there is a more technical name for this type or style of exercise, I think of and refer to it as a the latest rendition of the bring-on-the-suck training.
Because I am always wearing my Fitbit and have it engaged for training sessions, J periodically has me check-in with it during these styles of workouts. In 2015 we did one of these the day after Thanksgiving and I had to bail 10 minutes early, the first and only time that has happened. My blood sugar dropped like a stone and I felt faint, so I know the signs of pushing too hard. It was shortly after that M insisted I get a judgmental heart rate monitor and wear it in the gym.
Anyway, after I got home on Monday I glanced at my stats when I turned off the Fitbit and then went to the online program dashboard to look at my stats, the first time in months I have done that. Average heart rate for the session was 128, peak was 148. If I look at heart zone training charts, I see where I am on that and immediately start to feel the dark side of tracking overcome me.
Tracking this stuff is as toxic to me and my progress as chasing the scale. I know there has been considerable progress made without tracking, and I am a lot more balanced and stress-free from not looking at my stats every day or even every month. If I could just look through them occasionally as data points, I would probably not be writing this particular post. Instead, I’d be writing periodically about the changes in my training stats – the positive, the negative, the indifferent.
If my mental/emotional balance and self-esteem were all aligned in a neatly positive little row, perhaps I would be reasonable in evaluating data as it comes in about me. Without a therapist or trainer to talk me off the ledge of hysteria and get me to cease my self-flagellation and self-destructive desire to quit. Woe is me … the sky is falling … I am a lazy, worthless piece of shit who is never going to get better …. Been there, done that, have the t-shirt locked away in negative girl’s cell.
I have learned skills to manage my impulses. I have developed enough self-control and discipline to propel myself forward in the better health quest. My confidence, my pride in what I have achieved thus far – well earned. However, I still cannot make myself stop the mad judgment when faced with the marketing materials and data evaluation of what is “normal” in this modern world. Just last night I was scrolling through Pinterest and there was something about “burns 1000 calories” posted. Quick glance – could not help myself – and moved on as fast as my fingers could take me away. But not before idly wondering what I would do, how I would feel if I tried and failed, or worse, if I tried and succeeded and my Fitbit read less than 1000 calories burned. That disappointment that leads to despair was already trying to creeping into my consciousness just reading about it.
Much as I want to fault Pinterest or the fitness industry or whoever is responsible for putting forth that workout, my visceral reaction to it is all about me and my stuff. Probably there are people out there who can do that workout as written and their fitness tracking devices report 1000 calories burned. Yay them! For me, it’s just another standard to chase that will make me feel badly if I fall short.
Negative girl is alive and thriving inside my head. After a whole long and healthy life of being mostly in control of my thoughts, emotions, and self-esteem, eliminating her completely is out of the question. Best I can do, most I can hope for is complete containment. The influence lives with me every single day, and while it is easier to dismiss it, ignore it, or just not hear it, I know it’s there. The very second I let my guard down and allow myself to be vulnerable, I can feel it swarming and consuming me like quicksand.
This is one of those truths in life I simply have to accept as part of who I am and cannot permanently change. I am never going to be a natural blonde (black hair with spreading gray), have blue eyes (mine are brown), or rise to the 5’7″ height (I am 5’5″) I see as desirable. I can bleach and color my hair. I can buy contact lenses that will turn my eyes blue. I can wear heels or stand on a box to be taller. Those are temporary solutions at best; I will eventually revert to my truest nature.
Such is the way I see and what I know about my thought patterns and emotions. I took some serious wounds as a child that left me with big, gaping, ugly, and permanent scars. But while I might think and feel with a handicap, I do still think and feel to the best of my ability. I have adapted and overcome. My coping with improving my health has involved a lot of digging out and transplanting old ideas, habits, and feelings to get to a fresh surface and place to plant new and healthier habits and practices. I do not see myself as ever completely free of the old stuff, and accepting that reality has been a big first step in rebuilding something new and better.
So while I am still not giving up my Fitbit anytime soon, I am putting myself back on lockdown about the statistics and such. The bigger, more grown-up part of me says immersion therapy may be an answer? At some later date; I lack the mental or emotional capacity to handle it right now.
And these days, it’s okay that my big girl pants do not extend to the point of able to check my own fitness tracker statistics or track my progress via the scale. I do the work, and finally, finally I feel as if I can talk the talk (and blog about it) because I walk the walk.
As for my uneven relationships with electronic devices, there are certainly worse things in life. Could not care less 99.95% of the time; I do not give a shit about what my fitness tracker says about me. Measuring progress is not my priority. Making progress getting fitter – that IS my thing.