If I told you that I was selling a new device that would track your steps, heart rate, period, water intake, calories, weight, and let you compare all of that to strangers on the internet- what would you say? What if I packaged it with a trendy band and marketed it as a “wellness” device?
If reading the first sentence sounded like the beginning of a terrible dystopian young adult novel- I feel the same way. I used to live and breathe for my Fitbit. I wore it everywhere- prom, graduation, family vacations- you name it. For me it was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Within a month of having it, I was deep into a full-blown eating disorder. I don’t want to scare or shame anyone because different things are helpful/harmful for different people. However if you are unsure if you should ditch your Fitbit, here are a few signs that it’s time for it to go:
Please note that this article also applies to Apple Watches and any other fitness trackers! I use “Fitbit” for consistency and because I personally had one.
You are always thinking about food, step count, calories, and/or exercise
There are a thousand things to think about during the day and being preoccupied with food, weight, and calories is not only tiresome, but it’s also a symptom of an eating disorder. I want to make it clear that I am not anti-exercise or anti-working out, but if your entire life revolves around working out and counting calories, you aren’t really living at all. You can want to feel good about what you’re putting in your body and how you’re moving it without hurting your mental health in the process!
You feel guilty for not meeting your step goal
On most fitness devices, you’ll get some sort of message or fun graphic when you meet your step goal. I loved the feeling of productivity and accomplishment that came from the little firework show my Fitbit showed me when I reached my step goal. Even though it seems like a super small thing, it was an easy thing for me to latch onto and turn into yet another box I had to check off each day. On the days where I didn’t meet my goal I would feel so guilty that I’d spend the rest of the week trying to make up for it. It’s likely that if you feel guilty about not meeting your step goal that you’re also preoccupied by it, so this is definitely a sign that the fitness tracker needs to go.
You are comparing yourself more
The comparison trap is already easy enough to fall into because of social media- you don’t need a Fitbit making it worse! Fitness apps often allow you to share your “progress” and see what others are doing, which can be both triggering and pressure you into wanting to change your body. I didn’t use the app too much but overall while having a fitness tracker, I did compare myself more to people in general both on and offline. I wanted to be the best, the “healthiest,” the most productive, and ultimately was seeking the unattainable: perfection. We all know that nobody is perfect (thanks, Hannah Montana!) but it can be hard to feel that way when it’s easy to pick apart our own flaws and think we should, can, or need to fix them. If wearing a Fitbit has made you more aware of things you “should” be doing and you’re finding yourself increasingly comparing your body/workouts/success to other people, it’s time to shut it off for good.
You feel anxious when you aren’t wearing it
Fitbits aren’t a wedding ring or lifesaving medical device- you don’t have to wear it all the time. This was easier said than done for me, so I know how it feels if you’re having trouble leaving it at home. For prom I literally tucked it into my bra. A low moment, sure, but just know you are not alone in this. If you feel a jolt of panic when you forget or can’t wear your fitness tracker for whatever reason, it’s likely become an object of dependency or unhealthy behaviors.
You base your decisions off of your Fitbit instead of your own wants and needs
At the end of the day, Fitbits are just another hunk of metal. They aren’t things that have wants and needs like humans do! If you want to go see a movie or go get an ice cream but you’re worried about the calories, steps, or weight your Fitbit will track and you change your plans, you’re essentially putting it before your own wants and needs. I did this all the time and I regret letting a device have that much power over me. Again, I’m not anti-exercise or anti-health, but you need to be making those decisions from a positive place and because you want to- not out of fear, guilt, or shame.
I hope this article gave you some clarity on whether or not it’s time for you to ditch your fitness tracker. You are so much more than a step count, weight goal, or caloric intake and you deserve to put your wants/needs first! It may be hard to get rid of your fitness tracker if it has become a strong habit to wear/check it, so I encourage you to ask a trusted person in your life for help getting rid of it. Mindful movement is great to look into if you’re interested in shifting your thinking about exercise to a more positive, healthy place and stepping away from calorie counting and step tracking. You can read more about it in my previous article, here.
Featured photo courtesy of Pexels
All content on RecovRoad is based on personal experiences, research, and ideas. Please do not repost/share without credit and be aware that nothing on this blog takes the place of professional help. This is also a formal trigger warning: content about and relating to eating disorders may be triggering to survivors. Please see the “RESOURCES” tab, call the National Eating Disorders Association hotline at 800-931-2237, and remember to take care of yourself.