Finding Quiet

This month, I don’t feel like I have anything especially reflective or clever to say about fitness stuff.

I just got back from a period in Banff, where I attended a workshop and enjoyed my time isolated in the Rocky Mountains.

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Image Description: Sunset over the Rocky Mountains. Hard not to feel both in awe and at peace with views like these. 

While I was there, I fully allowed myself to exist in “The Bubble.” No news. Limited communication with the outside world. Limited mindless Internet browsing. And less coffee. (Gasp!)

I have to say, it was transformative.

It’s amazing what a little peace and quiet will do for your mental state.

Lately, I have felt the painful hum of current events more and more acutely. I have become more anxious about the state of the world, and those who seem to run it. Naturally, I’ve always been a very optimistic person and in the past, the gloom of current events tended not to bring me down as much as they have more recently. It’s as if the world’s worries feel more palpable to me.

Maybe it’s because I’m getting older? Or maybe it’s because things are getting worse? Who knows.

In any case, allowing myself to experience what was in front of me was just the thing I needed. I felt my spirits lift, my anxieties decrease, and my overall mental and emotional states improve. I felt a clearer sense of myself, what I value, and how I want to be in the world.

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Image Description: Overlooking Bow Falls in Banff National Park. Though it isn’t a steep waterfall, the force (and noise) were incredible. That sound of water rushing over rocks is one of my favourite sounds of all time. Like Mother Nature’s own white noise machine.

In coming back home, I want to find a way to maintain that peaceful state of mind—and I feel myself already worrying that it won’t last long.

Before I left, I was often pulled between several tasks at once, or just felt a general sense of NOISE in the back of my mind. I felt this intense need to hurry up, to keep the pace. I would lose entire weeks without realizing what even happened or what I’d done. Indeed, I have started incorporating a broader practice of mindfulness and meditation into my daily life. But there was something about feeling physically sheltered by mountains from the chaos of the world. It was just so quiet.

As I said, I don’t have anything particularly witty to share today. Only the hope that you too find time for peace, for quiet, and for yourself in this increasingly noisy world.

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Image Description: The misty Rockies in view past the Banff Centre. 

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Image Description: Walking through the woods alone. 

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Image Description: This deer grazed at my window every day! Usually around the same times, too. It felt miraculous to look out my window to see a deer (or a few deer) casually snacking

The (Mental) Tolls of Physical Injury

I rang in 2017 with a bad knee sprain.

 

I had no idea how long this would take to heal, not to mention the complications of re-injuring my knee twice since the initial sprain in the winter.

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Image Description: A Snowy street on St. Clair in Toronto. Walking around in deep snow and slippery streets proved very difficult with an injured knee–every step felt a little dangerous.

The initial injury happened in a way that was totally preventable, and I felt a lot of anger about the way it happened. I was on an airplane, flying back to Toronto from Calgary. I was in the window seat, and there was another passenger in the aisle seat. At one point during the 4-hour journey, I had to go to the washroom, and asked her if I could get by. She tucked her knees in so I could get past her (which was very awkward). On my way back to my seat, she had her phone plugged into one of the seats in front of her and I again, had to climb over her awkwardly and maneuver over her phone cord. In trying to twist back into my seat, I felt my left knee pop, buckle and then flush with excruciating pain. It hurt so badly, I thought I had broken it somehow.

 

WHY didn’t I politely ask her to get up so that I wouldn’t have to awkwardly climb over her?? Well, I’ve learned my lesson about maneuvering into tight spaces and speaking up.

 

Since the winter, I enlisted the help of osteopaths, physiotherapists, massage therapists and got advice from a personal trainer. It’s been nine months now, and my left knee is still in the healing process. From what I’ve learned, knees (and joints in general) can take a very long time to heal.

 

Certainly, a physical injury can take an toll. You have to pay attention to it, nurture it, strengthen it, and hope that it continues to get better. In part, increased biking has helped me to strengthen my quads (as advised by the healthcare professionals I’d spoken to). But it is still occasionally tender and I still worry about reinjuring it yet again, now that it’s been compromised.

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Image Description: A snowy walk with a friend and her dog. First long walk/hike post-injury but before any re-injury. Walking/hiking was a safe way to begin restrengthening my knee and kept me active without too much fear of straining.

The first osteopath I saw mentioned to me that a knee injury (well, any injury) takes not only a physical toll, but a mental one too. It can make you feel unstable, shaken, and a little insecure. Certainly, I have found this to be the case for me. I’m much more cautious about how I move around. I feel concerned about re-injury, or what this will mean for the future. I wanted to take a tap dance class this fall, but with my knee still not feeling up to the task, I had to postpone.

I find myself worrying and wondering if it will ever heal completely—or at least to a place I feel good about. And more than that, I’ve had to deal with anger at myself for even “letting” the injury happen the way it did in the first place.

 

Then, there are the moments of self-comparison. I look to other people who have sustained far more serious injuries than myself and think, “They’ve got it way worse. What do I have to complain about?”

 

Beyond day-to-day concerns, I have found that my enthusiasm for exercise has waned slightly. I have fears about damaging my knee further (even with a lot of the helpful advice and information I’ve received about strengthening it). Putting these restraints on myself make me wonder if I have started to “coddle” my knee too much out of fear of further injuring it.

 

Of course, this fear isn’t necessarily productive when it comes to recovery or healing. But, I suppose it is one part of the process.

 

Thinking about the mental tolls of physical injury have reminded me how interconnected our bodies and minds are.

 

Moving forward, I’ve realized it’s important for me to address and acknowledge these mental tolls as things that need healing just as much as the physical healing my knee requires.

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Image Description: A post-workout selfie. My t-shirt, appropriately reads, “Battle your FEARS.”

What about you?

 

What experiences have you had with injury and healing? Do you find physical injuries take a mental toll? How do you address physical injuries and what ways do you go about healing them?

Lifting in Everyday Life: Self-Image and My Weird Love of Physical Labour

There’s something about physical labour that is very satisfying in a way that’s different from working out.

One of my favourite essays is “Eating Dirt” by Charlotte Gill. It’s about her summers as a tree planter in BC. In it, Gill captures the full-bodied exhaustion and mysterious bliss of physical labour as she recounts 12-14 hour days of hiking and planting trees.

Tree Planters

Image Description: Three tree-planters have large canvas sacs around their waists with hiking packs on their backs. They hike along a hill in the forrest overlooking hills with trees.

Over the last five years, I’ve been involved with seven moves, some of which were my own. There’s a joke in the Netflix series, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt where one character says that she’s started a new workout routine where she moves furniture around, “My trainer is this Israeli guy with a big truck and…” (just then she figures out that her new form of exercise is just helping people move).

Perhaps one of the things I find satisfying about physical labour is the tangible sense of accomplishment. This isn’t to say that working out doesn’t also give me a sense of accomplishment; it’s just different. Knowing that I can move all the contents of my apartment into a truck, and out of a truck into a new home is pretty cool.

I don’t always feel as tough and strong from lifting pieces of metal up and down at the gym. (Again, sometimes yes. But it’s different to know you can lift big heavy objects…or is this just me?)

Or maybe my appreciation of physical labour has something to do with the fact that my main work is sitting at a computer for large chunks of the day, either reading or writing. I’ll admit that my enjoyment of physical labour is probably because I get to choose when I engage with it and I don’t necessarily have to do it every day.

One of my part-time gigs is working in the taproom of a local craft brewery in Toronto. When I’m not pouring beer, this involves a lot of heavy lifting, loading and unloading things, moving kegs and other heavy things. There’s something very practical about it all: Move object from point A to point B because you have to or because you need that keg over there. And by the end of the day, the feeling of “Wow! I did that!”

One of my friends joked this spring that by the end of the summer I’d be “ripped” from working at the brewery. She wasn’t wrong. I have noticed muscle growth in my biceps and shoulders that makes me feel big and strong. Maybe what I like is knowing that I don’t have to ask someone bigger than me (i.e., a man) to help me complete physical tasks that need to get done.

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Image Description: A drawing from a textbook that features a leotard-clad man lifting a heavy barrel or keg over his head. (Sadly, could not find drawings of women lifting kegs.)

In my last post, I wrote about buying a new bike, and elsewhere I’ve written about my intense fear of urban cycling. In the last month, I’ve used my bike exclusively to get around, using transit maybe once in over a month. Doing so has completely changed my perspective of what I’m capable of. It’s freeing, really. Knowing that I can take myself places under my own physical power is exciting and awesome.

I suppose part of my newfound love of physical labour is about seeing myself in a new light. When I first started writing for this blog maybe ten months ago, I used to see myself as someone who wasn’t very physically capable or active. I saw myself as physically awkward, not very strong, not capable of performing certain physical tasks. But physical labour proves these self-doubts wrong in a very tangible and visible way.

I can no longer delude myself into thinking I am not physically capable or active if I can bike 30km’s in a day, or lift fifty pound kegs from point A to B, or move an apartment’s worth of stuff.

Slowly my self-image has started to change. And perhaps another ten months from now I’ll be accomplishing things I wouldn’t think possible now.

Getting Back on the Bike

When I was learning to drive, my instructor would always say, “Set yourself up for success.”

By this she meant, don’t make driving harder on yourself than it has to be. Especially as a new driver. Park in places that are easy for you to pull out of (i.e., forwards instead of backwards), drive routes you’re comfortable with, drive at times you’re comfortable with, have things in your car that allow you to enjoy your time driving (e.g., music you like or picked out yourself, etc.). I started driving young—you sort of had to where I grew up. And eventually I became someone who not only loves to drive, but who is also pretty good at it (if I do say so myself!).

I’ve been thinking about this advice now that I live in Toronto and no longer drive—or rather, refuse to drive in a city of this size and level of congestion. For so many reasons, I know that biking is the smart thing to do. And yet I have my serious hang-ups and anxieties around it. (Read here for more.) The gist of it is, urban biking scares me. I’m intimidated as a cyclist (by cars, streetcars, buses and other more experienced cyclists) and I probably just haven’t gotten enough hours in for it to feel very natural to me. More than that, having to take up urban cycling in Toronto of all places can make one feel as if they’ve been thrown in the deep end.

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Image Description: A view from Toronto’s Rail Path on the West End, near the Junction. The photo features a bright blue sky with abundant clouds, some development and small businesses. In the bottom right corner, two cyclists bike side-by-side. One of the highlights of urban biking is views like these.

Sure, I know how to bike. And heck, I’ve even biked around Toronto as a commuter a good handful of times. But now that summer is in swing, I find myself timid to get back on the bike…but at the same time, the last place I want to be is on a crowded subway car when I could be outside, and above ground.

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Image Description: A view of the Don Valley Parkway from the subway. One side of the highway is full of cars while the other side is empty. This photo was taken during rush hour and everyone is driving to get out of downtown. Commuting in a big city can be really exhausting and it doesn’t help when you’re stuck in traffic.

And then I remembered my driving instructor’s advice: Set yourself up for success.

What would this look like with regards to cycling?

First of all, my bike was a couple years shy of being an antique. Someone had given it to me when I had no bike, and I happily accepted. It was better than no bike!

But it had its share of issues. It was rickety and rusty, and while it was pretty cute, it was never fun for me to ride. It was uncomfortable. The seat was hard and even with a cushy soft cover, it still hurt one’s sensitive areas. Any time I’d ride over the slightest bump, everything would rattle (much like my first car, actually. An ’83 Ford Mustang that ran on about 3 and a half cylinders). Beyond riding, it was difficult to adjust anything on my bike—gears, the height of the seat or handlebars. (The bolts and screws were rusty and nearly stripped—probably as old as the bike itself.)

I don’t know why I didn’t realize sooner how little I enjoyed interacting with this bike. Maybe it’s the kind of thing when you decide to get rid of something, its flaws become glaringly obvious to you.

However, even with all these issues as I saw them, it was still a decent and functional bike. I listed it online and a handful of people were eager to take it off my hands. It was a great fixer-upper, or even decent enough to commute for someone who wasn’t too fussy. On Monday, I sold it to someone who was more than happy to buy it. (One person’s trash is another person’s treasure has never been truer!)

And by Tuesday, I’d tracked down a shiny new (not-rickety) bike at the Bikes on Wheels in Kensington Market. It jumped out at me as soon as I got there: a beautiful bright yellow bike with my name on it.

By Wednesday it was mine to ride home.

And WHAT A DIFFERENCE! A smooth ride, gears that shifted easily, a low bar (which makes it easy for someone short like me to hop on and off), lightweight (easy to pick up), and easy to adjust.

From the first test ride around Kensington Market I could tell that my reservations about biking weren’t all about Toronto traffic. A large part of my resistance was around having a bike that was difficult to deal with. It was like I didn’t even know that biking could be enjoyable.

Getting more comfortable on the road will come over time. That I’m sure of. I know that I’m still “too slow” as I often get passed by other cyclists. I’m cautious, but I’m lacking in a bit of confidence and certainty. But that’s what I was like as a new driver too. And over time, I became better, more confident, and developed a sort of sixth sense about driving.

I’ve made the first moves in setting myself up for success as a city cyclist and it’s opened up the city for me in a new way! I don’t feel beholden to transit, I can get places more efficiently than walking, and I’m excited to develop as an urban cyclist.

I’d love to hear your tips and stories about urban cycling. What do you do to set yourself up for success? What struggles have you overcome? Or what do you love most about it??

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Image Description: My new bike, a yellow “Linus” bike with brown leather seat and handles. 

Boobs and Bathing Suit Shopping: My Response to the Whole “Bikini Body” Thing

This post isn’t exactly about fitness but with summer around the corner, I find myself thinking about the tired “bikini body” tropes. You know, how we all have to get our bodies “ready” to be seen by other people in public…

Well, this week my partner and I are headed to his hometown of Rockaway Park in Queens, NY. It’s an amazing beach community on the southern peninsula of Queens.

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Image Description: A photograph of the beach around sunset with apartments visible in the background. Rockaway Beach is an amazing beach community south of Brooklyn on the southern peninsula of Queens.

 

In anticipation of the trip, I decided to give the whole two-piece bathing suit another try.

I finally figured out: Hey! I feel good about my body in my underwear—I think I look pretty damn good, even. So why do I feel so uncomfortable in a two-piece? Oh, I see… Other people.

Well, fear of what other people think be damned! The older I get, the more I realize (not only does it not really matter), but no one’s even looking at me anyway.

So off I went to in search of a proper two piece.

The main problem, however, was my boobs. Or rather, the lack of selection for those with a “D-cup-and-up.”

I started by doing some preliminary searching online… “Bikini tops for larger busts” yielded some results, but what I found was a lot of tops that tried to hide or diminish parts of the body.

What makes you think that just because I have a larger bust, that I also want to hide it? Or hide my stomach? Do larger busts and larger stomachs automatically go together?

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Image Description: A woman wearing a black bikini intended for larger busts, but also has a lot of fringe to cover her breasts and stomach. While I actually don’t think this is a bad option in terms of style, it seems ridiculous that so many options that are available for larger busts are also ones that hide and diminish the visibility of breasts and stomachs. This is just one example of the types of bathing suits available for larger breasted women: lots of fringe to hide behind! 

I continued my search at the Eaton Centre… I found that most companies offered larger sizes of bikini tops, but these are just simply larger versions of their cute flouncy tops that are meant for smaller busts. For those of you out there who share my struggle, you know this doesn’t quite work. Simply making a bikini top larger doesn’t always take into other concerns like support, side-boob coverage, the feeling of security that I won’t accidentally flash half the beach while coming out of the water. (#bigboobproblems)

The worst part of it was just how many useless tops there were out there. Certainly, I can’t be the only person with larger breasts who also wants to wear a two piece (AND move around with said two piece on her body without the fear of it falling off).

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Image Description: Some beach-ready items like sunglasses, camera, and bathing suit. This type of bathing suit top in particular was the predominant style when I went looking for a top. I’m sorry, but no matter how big you make this top, it still won’t work for a larger bust in terms of support, coverage, comfort, and general staying-up-ness. 

Lately I’ve become less and less impressed by what stores have to offer. I don’t consider myself to have an especially rare body type, but even if I did, what would I do then?? I’m annoyed (at best) and totally pissed off (at worst) when I’m made to feel like something is wrong with me because things in stores don’t fit me properly. (Not to mention other issues like high prices for low quality, the use of sweatshop labour to produce high volumes of clothes out there these days…)

So now what? I don’t have a particularly satisfying way to wrap up this post. I guess my frustration around consumerism, patriarchy, and other bullsh*t are just a bit higher than usual these days, and the bathing suit shopping incident was that thing that pushed me over the edge.

I have this note to myself written above my desk in my office that says, “Create before you consume” and this idea can act as the antidote I sometimes need against the bombardment of body and beauty standards out there in stores and malls. If anything, it’s a reminder…just because I live in a consumer culture, doesn’t mean I have to be a mindless consumer. I, too, am someone who is capable of creating things. And that, for me, has always been empowering.

I recently took up knitting and sewing as a way to make my own clothing. There are even classes in Toronto on how to make your own bras and bathing suits. While I realize this isn’t for everyone, I find something deliciously rebellious about not needing to buy stuff when you can make it yourself.

But this can mean lots of things for lots of people: Create a positive self-image before you consume… Create time for yourself before you consume… Create your own version of something before you consume… Whatever this means to you!

Anyway, I’ll be happily lounging on the beach this week in my bikini body; by which I mean, there will be a bikini on my body.

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Image Description: A drawing of a bikini with the words, “How to get a bikini body… put a bikini on a body.” This and similar memes are a response to the “Get Bikini Body Ready” rhetoric out there about dieting and exercising prior to putting a bathing suit on in the summertime.

How I Get Out of a Body-Image Funk

Sam and Cate’s recent post about weight gain made me laugh. Thank you to both of you for posting it! I’m always nervous to be outspoken about those sorts of feelings, but seriously—weight change is a reality! And sometimes we don’t care and sometimes we do.

Speaking of weight gain, one of my girlfriends is in her second trimester right now and we’ve had some laughs about her drastic weight gain in a such a short period. But it’s made me wonder: How can I be so encouraging and supportive of her body-self-consciousness but so critical of my own? Can I still be a body-positive feminist even though sometimes I desire to be thinner? Or will my membership card be immediately revoked?

Lately I’ve been struggling with my own body image. Spring often does that to me. It’s when I shed my winter layers and I’m suddenly very aware that I have a body which will soon be less-covered as it gets hotter. It’s also the time of year I tend to become weirdly critical of my own body in various ways.

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A motivational poster of an orange kitten looking in a mirror. The reflection is of a lion. The caption reads, “What matters most is how you see yourself.”

Another reason these feelings started creeping up is that, as summer arrives, I get a chance to see people I haven’t seen in a while (family, friends, etc.). And while it’s great to reconnect, one of my first thoughts is almost always: What if they think I got fat?

Weight changes are generally more obvious when you haven’t seen someone in a while. And my mother—God bless her—never sugar-coats this kind of thing. I can’t stress enough that she never intends it to be critical. She has, on multiple occasions, cited that her comments come from a different cultural understanding as she wasn’t born in North America. For her, commenting on weight is merely descriptive and even sometimes meant as a compliment, (as in, “Wow, you put on weight! You must be eating well!”).

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A cartoon of a woman in her underwear holding her belly. The first panel reads, “*sigh* Look at this belly. I must be getting FA-” with the second panel reading, “BULOUS!” The woman, still in her underwear has a feather boa and sunglasses on, strikes a bold pose.

But still. My worries continue to weigh heavy on my mind (did I intend that to be a pun? I don’t know.)

One way I’ve started dealing with these concerns is by shifting my focus to other goals around strength and self-improvement. Yeah, I could set a goal about being thinner. But I find goals like these become frustrating and I even become a little obsessive. I don’t like the way I become with goals like these. Yet, I know that I am a goals-oriented person. I need milestones to work towards.

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A mock-motivational poster that reads, “Goals: You gotta start somewhere.” The photo is of a corgi jumping over a make-shift obstacle made of two pillows holding up a cardboard tube. 

HOWEVER! There are plenty of other types of goals that do work for me. Ones that keep me looking forward instead of in the mirror.

And since we’ve gotten to know each other over the past few months, I’m happy to share some of those here.

  • Gradually increase strength and lifting ability by 50% (e.g., 30lb to 45lb, or 45lb to 67.5lb)
    • I want to be stronger! In addition to writing and completing my PhD, I also work part-time at a brewery here in Toronto. One of the things I often have difficulty with is LIFTING KEGS. I can kind of do it and waddle around with one. But it would be nice if this were less of a struggle. More generally though, there’s something empowering about becoming stronger (and not needing to ask for help all the time–reminds me of this “FlexCam” video) and seeing this sort of progress when working out. Also having a specific and measurable goal helps me instead of simply saying something like, “I want to be stronger.”
  • Substitute biking at least once per transit ride (weekly)
    • I’d love to ride my bike more. I do it a bit, but honestly, Toronto drivers scare me (rightly so…they are awful) and I really don’t want to die like that. I’ve written elsewhere about my feelings on being an urban cyclist but this summer I’d like to push my boundaries on this and become a more confident cyclist and use this as my primary method of transportation eventually.
  • Use up remaining fitness class passes this summer
    • Before I joined the Y, I was using fitness passes for places like The Yoga Sanctuary or Rocket Cycle (a super cool spin studio in my neighbourhood). Then I joined the YMCA and go there for my exercise needs. I’ve still got some outstanding classes on my passes and would love to get my full use out of them over the summer, or even to mix up my routine. This should be easy enough.
  • Get more intentional alone-time (weekly)
    • This isn’t really a fitness goal, but more about personal time or self-care. Recently, I’ve been busy and haven’t consistently spent time alone doing the things that make me feel good (long walks, reading or writing in cafes, making things). It could be that missing out on this contributed to my feeling-crappy as of late.

Ultimately, I know that so much about body image is all about perception. And I know that it’s normal to have ebbs and flows when it comes to body image. But I’ve found that shifting my focus helped me to diminish the funk I was in and kept me looking forward. But I’m curious to know what some of you do to get yourself out of these funks!

mirror bunny

A photo of a bunny looking at herself in the mirror. As if the bunny is giving herself a pep-talk, the caption reads: “u r beautiful and ur gonna do great today.” 

 

Me & My Fitbit Are On A Break

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Image Description: This is a photo of a woman’s hand holding a Fitbit Charge 2 with a purple wristband. The Fitbit screen reads, “Workout” with an animation of a person above the word. Even the instructions that come with the Fitbit suggest that the wearer should take breaks from wearing the Fitbit.

I was surprised that I even wanted one.

Me, the person who has always been (and continues to be) somewhat suspicious of technology. Or at least too much technology. Or too much dependence on technology. Don’t get me wrong—I love my laptop. And I would DEFINITELY, in a heartbeat, run into a burning building to save it. I also love my iPhone. Maybe a little too much—I bring it everywhere with me (to bed, to the bathroom, you get the picture).

Anyway, my wanting a Fitbit was a bit of a surprise to me and my loved ones—up until recently I didn’t even know what it was for. But in my renewed commitment to my fitness, it seemed like a great tool to help me along and encourage me to move every hour, track my heart rate (which I have always felt is too irregular, I don’t know why), log workouts, track sleep patterns, and so on and so forth.

And for the first while, it was great! We went everywhere together, I wore it to bed every night, and I kept earning all sorts of badges…

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Image Description: This is an animation of a Fitbit badge called “the sneakers badge” earned for 10,000 steps taken in one day. There are a variety of badges one can earn for meeting certain milestones when wearing a Fitbit. 

My Fitbit would be like, “Great job, Tracy, you’re crushing it!” “You’re getting all your steps!” “Great job!”

And I’d be all, “Oh you…” So flattering!

The next day, my Fitbit would say something like, “Wow, you’re meeting all your goals…you’re walking everywhere, and you’re doing like, 25 flights of stairs a day! Awesome!” (Even though this wasn’t always the case—since Fitbits can’t tell if you’re physically walking up stairs or taking elevators/escalators. But I didn’t have the heart to tell it that.)

For the first little while everything was great. Every time I’d meet my goals I’d enjoy watching the corresponding graphic on the Fitbit (digital fireworks or a little rocket ship taking off or whatever). It was like any other new romance! My Fitbit was telling me how great I was, and I felt super pumped about it. We were literally in sync.

Then, after a couple of months, I had a couple sluggish days, maybe a sluggish week or two. I’d get the weekly updates in my inbox saying how I walked 20km or 30km less from the previous week. Or, down 100 active minutes last week from the killer week I’d had before.

And it was rough because I felt like I could never explain myself and say, “I know, I know, I’ve just been really busy with work and with deadlines…” Or, “I had a rough week and just needed to chill out! I’m sorry!” Nope. I would open the Fitbit app and see all the areas I was falling short: Steps, short. Calories burned, short. Floors climbed, short. Active minutes, short. Kilometres walked—something my Fitbit had praised me for on multiple occasions—short. It became a real bummer.

Then I’d have moments where, if I left the house without my Fitbit on, I’d panic for a second thinking, Shit now all these steps won’t count! (In searching for pictures to go along with this post, I found MANY others experience this same panic and express their feelings in meme form.)

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Fitbit meme.jpg

You get the picture—my motivation was starting to be fueled by what my Fitbit had to say and not about how I felt. Just because I’m not wearing the Fitbit, doesn’t mean those steps lose value. Yet I started to feel like maybe this was the case.

Other times I’d have days of way surpassing my goals: getting over 17,000 steps in a day (the average person gets around 6,000/day I’m told and the recommended is 10,000), or having over 100 active minutes in a day, or whatever the case was. But often those days I’d be completely wiped or burnt out. I didn’t feel healthy–I felt exhausted and had only surpassed these goals because I was running around doing 50 things that day and didn’t even have a quiet moment to myself.

Of course, this wasn’t always the case–sometimes I’d feel great for surpassing my goals for the day. But the point is, the raw numbers don’t tell you everything.

I’ve really had to stop and think about extrinsic vs. intrinsic motivation. (Extrinsic being pressure from something other than myself; including striving for praise from a tiny computer.) I want to be the person behind my motivation to be fit and healthy. I want to do it for me because it’s what I enjoy, or what I find interesting or exciting or worthwhile.

And I get that the purpose of a tool like this is to encourage you to make positive changes. Certainly having a Fitbit for the purposes of daily activity tracking has been great in some regards. I was sleeping better, going to bed on time, waking up earlier, walking more often instead of taking transit, and getting up regularly to take breaks from desk work.

I’m sure that I’ll be happy to have my Fitbit back in regular rotation at some point in the near future. But things were starting to feel a little off.

I’ve learned that I don’t ever want to feel enslaved or beholden to a certain number or weight or outfit or angle or image or object when it comes to how I feel about my own body. So until then, my Fitbit and I are on a break!

We were on a breal

Image Description: This is a screen capture of a scene from the sitcom, Friends. Ross shouts to Rachel, “We were on a break!” The issue of whether or not the two were “on a break” at a point in their relationship was an ongoing dispute between the two.