Another new year, another promise to take care of ourselves better. Po Campo has partnered with EveryMove to offer discounts for when you reach your fitness goals. Just download the EveryMove app to get started. It also connects to fitness devices like FitBit or apps like My Fitness Pal so you don’t have to double enter your data. Wondering if these devices/apps really help? Keep reading for a recap of my own personal journey.
Last fall, I was asked to write an article about how self-monitoring devices (like Fitbit or Nike+ FuelBand) could affect one’s yoga practice for Chicago yoga magazine Illumine. I was a skeptic of the Quantified Self movement; putting a number on everything you do seemed like it would deduce the pleasures of life. No thanks.
However, in conducting research for the article, I became intrigued. People gushed about what an improvement the devices made in their lives and how they were able to use the data to make small adjustments with big results, both physically and mentally. This seemed plausible to me, as I have recently found unexpected joy in donning my detective cap and poking around Google Analytics to learn what numbers can reveal about different things. Could this same enjoyment be found in learning how my body operates? I wondered.
I decided to start with baby steps and downloaded My Fitness Plan, promising myself to give it a go for one month. The first few days were interesting to see how many calories I was consuming in my normal diet, as it revealed a couple angels and devils that I didn’t know lurked there. I noticed myself choosing healthier options if for no other reason than to not consume my daily calorie allotment too early (need to save some calories for end-of-day indulgences!).
Similarly interesting was physical activity. According to the app, my 40 minute easy and enjoyable bike commute burned as many calories as pounding out two miles on the treadmill, an activity I despise doing. After learning that, I joyfully skipped the treadmill on days I biked. Hooray!
Of course, I’m still a little skeptical. Focusing solely on calories is certainly an overly simplistic way to judge good and bad. I don’t want to think nuts and avocados are evil, and, as much as I wish it were true, I know it’s important to get your heart rate up like when I run but not when I bike.
Going back to the Illumine article, this sense of conflict was experienced by a lot of the yogis I talked to too. Practicing yoga doesn’t get you too many points with any of the devices or apps, yet we all know how impressive the benefits can be. It makes me wonder if, as the devices are improved, if they will become more nuanced and better reflect the richness of living.
What are your experiences with self-tracking? How do you resolve the conflict between what the devices tell you is right if you disagree?