Is Your Smart Watch Controlling You?

Last week I decided to turn off all notifications on my Apple Watch and stop tracking my workouts, calories, and steps. And let me tell you, it’s been the most relaxing, most peaceful week I’ve had in awhile. I knew that it was stressing me out, but I honestly didn’t realize HOW much.

This idea came about after I hurt my back and was forced to take it easy for a week or so. I was tired of having my watch continue to tell me that I wasn’t doing enough! I had my personal ‘move’ goal set at 800 calories, the workouts are always set at 30 min every day, plus you need to accumulate 12 standing hours per day. Most of the time I could reach those parameters. MOST of the time. But on the days (prior to my injury) that I couldn’t reach them, EVEN if it was only 50 calories shy of my 800, I would feel bad about myself. Now please note – I was completely in charge of setting my goal for the day. I believe the factory settings start you at a 500 calorie goal, I’m the one who decided to bump it up. So any feelings of inadequacy were really brought on by myself….go figure! So you can imagine, after hurting my back and not being able to workout at all, how it was making me feel!

Anyway, the more I thought about the ridiculousness of the whole thing, the more appalled I felt that I let myself get into such a state. I mean, I’m an ACTIVE person, and I certainly don’t need a watch to tell me that. I also don’t need a watch to decide if I’m good enough! But this is where it led me. It’s very similar to the scale. How many of you step on the scale everyday and let it determine your mood and your worth for the day?…Exactly.

So I decided to take my power back. Yes, inanimate objects can steal our power, I know it may seem silly to some of you, but for those that have these devices (or similar ones), you know what I’m talking about! We’ve become so addicted to tracking our workouts and seeing the total calories burned at the end of the day. It helps us sleep better at night knowing we’ve done our due diligence in the never ending war against fat. But here’s the thing, whether you track your workout or not, guess what? You STILL DID IT. This is the thing I find most hilarious about it all. You STILL worked out, you still went for that run or walk, you still got your steps in. Your body did it’s thing, elevated its heart rate, increased its metabolism, and burned calories. Yet, for some reason we feel that if we don’t have the hard data logged into our watch, it doesn’t count! Let me ask, how many of you actually go into your past history and look at your weekly totals, graph it out, and study the data? I’m guessing none. Or maybe 1% of you. So why do we do it then? I’m honestly not sure…human nature? The satisfaction of the gold star, the checkmark, the dopamine response from doing the “right thing”, who knows…

Now don’t get me wrong, I DO think that these devices can be super handy for some things. For example, if you’re currently a sedentary person and you need a little motivation to drive you forward, maybe these devices can give you that push. Or perhaps you have a desk job and you need a reminder to stand up every hour and walk around, for that purpose, they’re great. I also love using it for running when you want to know how many kilometres you’re doing, or what your heart rate is. Plus, it’s great for hiking, so you can look back at your mapped distance, elevation, and pace.

But if you’re a regularly active person, and you find yourself in a battle with your watch, I invite you to take a step back and really assess whether it’s serving you, or whether it’s stressing you. Overall I love my watch, but I know and recognize that I have the tendency to let it rule my day, and that’s really not what I need. I had to take a break and stop tracking everything, shut the notifications off, and just relax. Will I ever track again? Absolutely. But with this new awareness I believe I’ll do it in a much more balanced way. No more obsessing over how many calories I’ve burned in total for the day, no more feeling frustrated when I forget to turn my watch to workout mode and I’m halfway through it already.

The thing is, using an external drive takes away from the internal connection we have with ourselves. We stop listening to what our body actually needs and begin to abide by the rules of someone, or something else. What if we need a rest day? What if we do a restorative yoga class because our body craves it, but it doesn’t allow us to reach our calorie burn for the day? Does that mean it’s any less of an activity? Is restorative yoga not as “good” as running or weight lifting? Of course not! ALL movement is good! ALL of it. But we’re led to believe that it’s not. It’s all about the burn right? How many of you have that programming in your head? I’ll bet most of you do.

I decided that in order to take my control back, I changed the settings on my watch face. That’s the beauty of the Apple Watch, it has SO many amazing features, we just have to use them to empower us, not destroy us.

Now, when I look down at my watch, I can see a positive message, instead of constantly checking whether I closed my ‘rings’ for the day. I am in control now. I decide.

Do you have an experience similar to this? Or are you absolutely in love with tracking your workouts and getting your calorie burn for the day? There is no right answer here, we are all different and respond differently to situations. I’d love to know your thoughts on this topic!

In Wellness, Krista

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