Rocketbody Tracker? No thank you, says this intuitive eater

There’s a kickstarter fund for a new fitness tracker called Rocketbody. It tells you when to eat and workout based on tracking your metabolism. As an intuitive eater, I had a negative and visceral reaction to this.

For one thing, it’s no secret that I dislike tracking. It feels like a type of surveillance under which I do not thrive. See my post about tracking as the panopticon.  It’s a topic I’ve revisited a number of times. See here and here and here (for an alternative approach).  We also recognize on the blog that there are diverse views about it. “For and against” tracking post here.

It took me a long time to get into the rhythm of intuitive eating (took 27 years to be exact), where I actually sense hunger, respond to it with the food I want in the amount that satisfies me, and get on with my day. It has been the key, for me, to freedom from obsession. That more than anything to do with weight and body image, was a transformative outcome for me, increasing my sense of well-being and my confidence in my ability to make good decisions for myself, and my ability to have a loving relationship with my body.

The very idea of Rocketbody, a fitness tracker that monitors metabolism to tell you when to eat and when to work out, is antithetical to every value I hold dear. In this age of trackers, where monitoring our steps and our activity, tracking our food intake, and deciding in advance when/what/how much we should be eating, I’m often a voice in the wilderness in my call for less (no) surveillance and more self-love.

People are often surprised to discover that I do not use a fitness tracker. Who ever heard of such a public fitness enthusiast who doesn’t wear a thing on her wrist 24/7 to monitor activity and report to her about how well she slept? I’ve taken various forays into tracking and they always end badly.  I am in the process of resisting the temptation to enter the corporate step challenge at work — 100 days of counting steps as a member of a team. The first year I signed up without thinking, vowing never to do it again. The second year (last year), I caved after some time, ultimately becoming my team captain. To see how I felt about it that time, read my post “100 days of counting steps is like a marathon, only longer.” This year…not doing it. I already said that at the end of last season. 100 days of step counting just does not work for me, even if it did (I admit) get me to walk further last summer than I otherwise would have.

I know not everyone is of this mind and that for some people, who have adopted tracking as a way of life, the possibility of having a thing tell them when to do things like eat and work out is a welcome way of taking the decision-making factor out of the equation. When it’s the tracker’s decision and not yours, you might be more inclined to do it. I get that, and if that’s your style, go for it.

But this intuitive eater is sticking to her hard won freedom from surveillance and won’t be signing on to the kickstarter campaign for the Rocketbody tracker.

Would that sort of tracking be welcome or unwelcome to you?

11 thoughts on “Rocketbody Tracker? No thank you, says this intuitive eater

  1. There are times when it would be useful but mostly not. When? Bike riding. It’s the start of the cycling season and we’ve already been caught a few times with unexpected tiredness and hunger from not eating on rides. But for me I’m willing to live with that as a beginning of the cycling season mistake. I think I do it most years. Then I get into the rhythm of packing food and eating in on the bike for multi hour outings. There’s also low tech solutions. One of the people I ride with sets his Garmin to beep every so often to remind him to eat. But this all feels like a special circumstance, not an everyday thing.

  2. Jesus this is horrific. I can’t imagine anything more triggering for those with eating disorders or even just a troubled relationship with eating. As someone always fighting off former anorexia, my FIRST thought was how empowering it would feel to succeed in not eating when it told me to. Just as much, think how triggering and miserable it would be to feel hungry be told by the tracker that it’s not time.Your choices would be sit there hungry, or give in and feel like there is an objective measure of your failure and weakness. In other words, it’s bad enough when it ‘decides’ for you but seems to me potentially WAY WORSE in the cases where it fails to decide for you – when you diverge from what it tells you to do in either direction.

    As for working out, I can’t even imagine how stressed I’d be if I were stuck in meetings or making a writing deadline all day, super aware that I would rather be working out, and having a machine tell me that need to go workout when I can’t.

    I am hyperventilating a bit just thinking about this thing.

    1. As I hit ‘post’ I had the following related thought: In order to ‘succeed’ in doing everything the tracker tells you, you have to have the kind of life where you can basically just drop everything and eat or workout on cue. Who has that kind of life? Certainly not poor and working class people who have inflexible jobs and are at someone else’s call. The tracker caters to a certain sort of underemployed woman (lets face it we know its for women) of means who is surely its main marketing target, and makes the rest of us feel like sh*t.

      1. Probably men, actually. The “biohacker” thing is very masculine, and it’s got that classic Brogurt-style branding.

  3. I love tracking, but isn’t the biggest problem with this device that there is almost no possibility that it works as advertised? I wouldn’t mind a little gadget doing the calcs for foods, but it’s not like the tracker is actually weighing the food, so … really? GIGO.

    The worst thing about these little black-box trackers is the way they overpromise and claim they are reporting data when what they are really reporting is highly arbitrary interpretations of very simple observations. And don’t even get me started on the natural variability of healthy humans, let alone the specific issues for humans with active medical care (or who need to be getting it).

    It sounds like this thing basically just looks for heart-rate variability and then makes a lot of assumptions based on it. Not knocking HRV, but better to just learn about HRV and practice tracking it along with awareness of your experience.

    False precision is a problem with all these devices, but this one in particular looks like like a great excuse for people to say “oh yeah, no wonder I’m not in the mood – according to SCIENCE.” Which strikes me as pretty much the exact polar opposite of the most important result of being an active person in the first place: resilience.

  4. Also great that you’re saying no to the step challenge. You took it way too seriously. It’s not a good match for you at all.

  5. No, a tracker doesn’t do anything for me in terms of fitness activity motivation.
    I’ve been cycling without a distance cyclometer for past…15 years and more. I did start off for first few years and tracked my mileage. It started to get boring and annoying for me. Then demotivating. I have a vague idea of certain distances for certain routes I regularily ride. That’s good enough for me.

    Cycling is to free me physically and mentally. I must feel free to challenge myself in any way I want in accordance to weather conditions. I must also enjoy my rides which surveillance is completely counterproductive to my style of motivation.

    In terms of weight control and intuitive eating, it’s how my clothes fit. There are a few favourite garments I wear..I can tell simply by waistband fit or arm circumference fit.

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