The upcoming new year has many individuals contemplating their health regimens and seeking ways to enhance them. Some individuals may opt to invest in the newest fitness monitors or download applications that pledge to aid in sleep, nutrition, or awareness.
In the past, I heavily depended on health monitors like the Apple Watch or the Peloton app. It felt empowering to monitor my sleep, screen time, steps, and even my menstrual cycle. However, over time, I realized that I had become excessively fixated on meeting specific targets and objectives—overly focused.
I started worrying about getting to bed early on one day and then forfeiting sleep the following day to fit in a workout. My relationship with physical activity became tense, and instead of feeling empowered and robust, I felt uneasy and drained.
It wasn’t just my physical well-being that suffered. The constant influx of data and notifications began to take a toll on my mental health as well. Each notification, buzz, and alert made me feel like I was falling behind—like I wasn’t doing enough. My reliance on technology was impacting not only my body but also my mind.
Therefore, I made the daring choice to cease using health monitors. Although I was somewhat hesitant about relinquishing the continuous data dictating how to enhance my life, it has resulted in some enlightening changes in my health approach.
Relying on my vitality to direct my activity
Instead of counting on reminders from my watch to take breaks and move around, I now heed my energy levels and take breaks when necessary to rejuvenate. I have also commenced rediscovering the delight of movement. Rather than pushing through a run because my watch indicates I still have 2,000 steps left for the day, I am exploring other pleasurable forms of exercise, such as yoga or solitary dance sessions at my desk. I have also rediscovered the pleasure of leisurely strolls without the pressure of achieving a step goal.
Learning to identify my body’s hunger and thirst signals
Bidding farewell to my health monitors has entailed learning to identify and trust that my body will communicate its nourishment requirements. Instead of relying on a device to inform me how much water to consume each day, I now pay attention to my thirst levels and drink accordingly. And rather than stressing about whether I’m consuming enough fruits and vegetables in a day, I contemplate what my body is craving. Some days it might be something protein-rich, like an omelet or a burger, while on other days, I might long for the freshness of a substantial salad. For me, the crucial element has been acknowledging both my hunger and fullness while respecting my overall health.
Rekindling the pleasure of spontaneity
Minus the pressure to fulfill all my activity goals, I am more capable of embracing impromptu activities with my children or spontaneous games. I am not consistently hurrying through our daily routine to fit in exercise or retire to bed at a precise time. Instead, if it feels right, I will take extra time during a whimsical bathtime or bedtime story session. I am still mindful of integrating movement and other healthy practices but feel more open to embracing the joy that emanates from unexpected moments.
Attuning to my body’s inherent rhythms
Sleep has always posed a challenge for me, and my fixation on achieving eight hours of sleep per night has led me to hasten through putting my children to bed, social events, and time with my spouse. Instead of monitoring my bedtime, I have learned to rely on my natural rhythms rather than aiming for a specific number of hours. Yes, there are occasions when I stay up too late and regret it the next day, but at least I don’t have to grapple with the guilt of my transgression displayed on my tracking app.
Learning to heed my body’s cues and rhythms has urged me to be more present in the moment than ever. I cannot make judgments about what my body requires if I don’t pause to acknowledge those needs. Also, now that I’m not reliant on my phone for wellness reminders, I don’t need it with me all the time. I am dedicating far less time to getting sidetracked by my phone.
The transition to living without my health monitors hasn’t been smooth. If you are contemplating a similar change, here are several pointers I would recommend to help you commence:
1. Initiate with small steps
Begin by leaving your monitor at home or in another room for a day and evaluate how it feels. Gradually extend the duration you spend without it until you feel comfortable phasing it out.
2. Tune in to your body
Be attentive to your hunger and fullness cues, your energy levels, and your emotions. Let your body direct you toward what it needs instead of depending on a device.
3. Explore alternate sources of inspiration
Participate in a fitness class, find a workout companion, or engage in a new hobby that brings you joy. There are numerous ways to stay active and engrossed without a monitor.
4. Be compassionate with yourself
Recall that it’s acceptable to make errors and have off days. Don’t be harsh on yourself if you miss a workout or fail to obtain a good night’s sleep—just recommit and continue to progress.
Health trackers have indeed revolutionized the way we approach health and wellness, but in the pursuit of numbers and objectives, it’s easy to lose touch with the most vital aspect of health—listening to your body. By shedding the constraints of quantified wellness, I have discovered a deeper connection to my body and a more profound sense of liberty. While I may not have precise statistics on my steps today, I do know that every day, I’m advancing with intent.