Last week I did it, I joined the groupies of Fitbit users with a Fitbit Blaze, the new “smart watch”. These fitness trackers have been out for quite a few years now, but taking the price into consideration, I have been reluctant to test them out as I am not into step tracking. For some users, tracking steps contains a level of encouragement to complete a daily goal, something completely understandable. As I already live a busy lifestyle, I have never found it necessary to rely on counting each step nor have I wanted the commitment to remember to wear a device full-time. With that said, those with sedentary lives, I can completely understand the motivation driven by reaching the coveted 10k steps, it is just not something everyone needs. Each person works differently. For fitness gurus such as myself whose life revolves around preset workouts, there can be a pause before investing the money. (These things aren’t cheap.) However, when Genki Husband asked if I wanted a Fitbit SmartWatch for our 11th anniversary present, I decided it might be fun to make the plunge and test one out.
*Please read the entire article top to bottom to understand my opinions, thanks.
Personally, I am not a triathlon or Iron Woman competitor, nor am I a fitness instructor, but I do manage to keep moving throughout the day. I’m not perfect though, as there are days when I find myself sitting in front of a computer a bit too much throughout the day, as a desk job tends to require. However, it is my own personal policy to get up for a few minutes every hour to get blood flowing through the body. Already dedicated to being active, I find step trackers are not absolutely necessary, minus the usage of a GPS enabled tracker for running. I use a Garmin Forerunner as I like to pretend I am a runner. So, I was reluctant to test out this new device.
My personal opinion is thus a wee bit different from the general public using Fitbit devices. Thus, as I start to use the Fitbit, a few flags are tossed in the air in concern while using this device for healthy weight loss. As I start to use the Fitbit, I would like to share my experiences and thoughts as a non-step tracking addict, along with my friends experience taken into account too. (With an open mind to try to reach success with it.) My first flag of concern is the concept that Fitbit pushes for weight loss to be a competition among friends and teams. Users are urged to sign up for competitions and join teams to increase weight loss. Now there are websites such as weight loss betting websites and likewise. Did I miss something though, when did a person’s health become a competition? It is a personal health issue that should be nurtured by outsiders such as crowds cheering alongside a marathon race or maybe the encouragement of a loved one to eat healthier food options, not competition. One with encouragement of love, not a push towards beating someone else’s accomplishments.
Why do I find weight loss competition an issue or concern? An area of weakness for fitness trackers, is a method of overusing the system to go beyond what is healthy and necessary for ones’ personal needs. For example, a person might workout 3x a day, eating less than 1200 calories, just to lose more weight than another team member. What these technology devices cannot discover is the start of an eating disorder or telling a user maybe enough is enough for the day. With patient cases increasing around the world in anorexia (eating too few of calories), rhabdomyolysis (overexerting the body through exercise), and even Orthorexia (excessive exercise), are these fitness trackers helping or leading into an unhealthy eating/exercise behavior through competition.
Online resources are available to track calories eaten and burnt off through exercise, such as My Fitness Pal, Cronometer, Spark People and even Fitbit. Personally, I use all of these trackers, mostly to keep on track but to confirm I am not overdoing my fitness as I have suffered from Orthorexia and recovered at the onset of an anorexia pattern of eating in the years past. Thankfully, I was able to pinpoint my mental illness years ago but many may not catch it in time to stop the life-threatening illness before becoming too serious. As it is right now, I know of a friend who is using Fitbit to track calories but has gotten so entwined in losing weight, this friend has fallen into an eating disorder taking over her entire life. Unfortunately words are lost at this stage for helping this friend, a person has to want to live a healthy life before outsiders can fully help out. Encouraging words about eating healthy and working out a proper amount is all that can be done right now. This type of encouragement is something these step tracking devices and competitions lack.
Numbers can become an obsession, lead by competition. A healthy weight loss plan can turn into an unhealthy, life-threatening competition which is my main issue with these trackers. There have been times I have noticed friends look at my weight loss accomplishments and start a workout plan of their own. While I love being the inspiration and motivation for others, I do want to toss up a concern for caution because weight loss and daily calorie counts should never be compared. Each human body is completely different, so one should not compare stats for competition purposes but track only for personal daily accountability. Weight loss should not be rushed, nor should it be a competition. It will be a slow process but as we have found from most contestants on fast weight loss television competitions, weight loss done in the fast lane is not permanent and will only creep back within the future years.
Why do I feel more compelled to toss a flag of concern for step trackers over website trackers? The answer is simple, step trackers are a constant reminder of weight loss that is carried around all day long. Sure, tracking websites can be placed on cellular phones and be constantly available, however, not as easily as the flip of a watch. So a watch step tracker feeds the competitive side nonstop.
Does this mean step trackers are not effective nor should they be used? While these devices can raise the level of concern, I believe these tracking devices can be used effectively. FIrstly, if you have a background of an addictive behavior or a history of an eating disorder, I believe these should not be used. Temptations will rise just by having this product on your wrist, my friends and I have agreed this is the case. Secondly, if you want to lose weight in a healthy manner, I do suggest another tracking device for food. The calorie consumption tracker does not cater to eating at least 1200 calories a day, the essential number found in numerous research studies to keep the human adult body running smoothly. For me, I love spark people for losing weight and learning to eat the proper amount of calories throughout the process of losing weight. The food tracker automatically adjusts for you when you lose weight, thus, your body is getting the proper nutrition throughout the entire process. If you are eating to moderate your nutrients and not trying to lose weight, I highly suggest either the chronometer and/or myfitnesspal websites. Finally, I would suggest the discontinued use of the tracking device if you find yourself obsessing over the numbers in food log and/or exercise log. It’s great to be proactive with tracking but it’s another thing to be obsessive.
All-in-all, step tracking devices can be effective but these devices should come with a warning label fighting the addiction or raised level of one to weight loss and over exercising. Weight loss is supposed be for health purposes, not winning a competition. Each one of us were placed here on earth, beholding beauty and intelligence selected just for us, so please do not waste it by being addicted to the stats on a watch and/or app. Learn to love yourself and eating healthy foods, this will bring you to a healthy weight and spread the love to others in need.
*Please Note: Fitbit is not under attack in this article, nor is any other brand. This article is simply to express my concern over addiction to weight loss and the increase in eating disorders due to the usage of these products. Seeing as I tested out the Fitbit Blaze myself, this is the product I mention in this article.