by Megan Dean
No, Google Maps, I do not want to know that my walk to the post office will burn off a “mini cupcake” worth of calories. This is not useful or motivational or even innocuous information. In fact, it kinda ruined my afternoon.
I have put a lot of effort into keeping “calories” out of my life. I don’t read fitness magazines, I actively ignore the screen on the elliptical machine, I avert my eyes from nutrient breakdowns on prepared foods and recipes, and avoid diet conversations like the plague.
I never expected Google Maps to invade my carefully cultivated calorie-free mental space with unsolicited information about my afternoon stroll, accompanied by a stupid little emoji.
In any case, I KNOW how many calories a 20 minute walk burns. It is etched into my mind and taking up space there permanently, as is the number of calories in an apple, a slice of angel food cake, an egg, a cup of vegetable soup.
I know this because I have spent hours of my life calculating how many calories I ate in a day and how many I burnt off. It has take me years of work, thousands of dollars of therapy, and a good number of self-help books (shout out to Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy!) to stop quantifying all my daily activities in calorie form.
Reducing everything to calories might be helpful for some people but for me it’s soul-crushing, pleasure-destroying, time-wasting bs. It flattens out my life, and makes me feel I need to earn the right to eat.
No thank you. Cupcakes can be delicious, walks can be pleasant, these things shouldn’t be interchangeable, exchangeable, or commensurable.
So, shove it Google Maps. I’d rather ask for directions, and I’m an introvert.
Megan Dean is a PhD candidate in Philosophy at Georgetown University, and a pre-doctoral fellow with the Mellon Sawyer seminar “Approaching the Anthropocene: Global Culture and Planetary Change.” She really likes eating and considers that an achievement.