Fun fact about this post, it has been sitting in my drafts pile for over a year!
There have been so many reasons why such an important topic has been pushed to the side time and time again. It’s been rewrote more than any post I’ve ever done, never feeling happy with the end result. So I’m trying one last time today to make it work, if it doesn’t I’ll have to scrap it all together.
If you’ve read the title then you’ll know that I’m going to be sharing my journey with fitness trackers and freedom today.
Let me start with this, I have nothing against fitness trackers, nothing at all. A big portion of my family wear them to aid them with their training and gym life, I have friends with them. I think when they’re used well they work really well. If you’re starting the journey to a healthier lifestyle then they are a really good step in the right direction. What I’m going to be sharing today is my own journey with them, through my time as an athletic teenager all the way to suffering with anorexia and finally freedom. I know my story is a common one from what I’ve seen on social media and I want to shed some light onto a big problem.
I do want to quickly get some foundation knowledge down though, just so we’re all on the same page; fitness trackers DO NOT cause eating disorders. There are a lot of factors that can result in a person developing a ED and wearing a fitness tracker alone will not make you suddenly have one, but more on that later.
In the past I’ve spoken about how I’ve always been athletic growing up and I’ve even talked about how being a dancer wasn’t the cause of me developing anorexia. However, I don’t think many of you are aware that I had a fitness tracker, though it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise.
The first one I had was a pink fitbit zip. It was the lowest fitbit model available but I loved it so much. I wore it every day and the battery life was fantastic.
I got this one in my first year of college, I had ‘retired’ from competitive dancing and wasn’t really all that active as my only sport was archery at that point. I was feeling a bit rubbish health wise at that point, my time table was pretty awful so ever thursday we had a 3 hour gap between lessons. I had met a group of friends and I would send those hours sitting down with my 3DS with them and just joking around together. I wouldn’t move for 3 whole hours.
So the zip was brought to encourage me to get moving again, it was as harmless as that.
Here’s a little bit of foreshadowing though, before I developed the eating disorder one of my friends was recovering from anorexia herself. I so vividly remember sitting down with her in the library one day as she played around with my fitbit. She mentioned off handed that she’d love to have one herself. She had a job so I asked her out of curiously why she hasn’t gotten one yet, her reply was that she wasn’t allowed one as it counted calories. I didn’t understand what she meant by that, in my eyes there was nothing wrong with it’s ability to count calories, it served no purpose to me so I just ignored it, but in less then a year I’d know full well what she meant.
Sadly my time with the zip came to an end after it went through the washing machine by accident, I’d left it on my trousers by mistake and well that was the end of it.
I can’t recall when I got my next one, but I had the early stages of the disorder when I got it. It’s why I can say with confidence that a fitness tracker didn’t make me develop an ED as it had already taken a hold when I wasn’t using a tracker. My next tracker was a fitbit Alta.
I loved this tracker so much, I really wish things were different and I didn’t have the ED with it because I loved using it so much and the ED really spoiled it for me. Sadly though, I can’t change the past.
It wasn’t long before this little device controlled my life.
Apologies for the lack of the specific details about it, I’m trying to glaze over it a bit, I don’t want my content to be triggering or negatively inspire people who are struggling to do what I did with it. I hope you can understand my decision for this. All you need to know is things got bad, really bad.
I knew things were bad, I knew I was out of control but I simply couldn’t take it off.
In the past year I have only wore a fitness tracker once.
The only reason I had one on was when I was going out running with my mum. We’d slowly been reintroducing me to exersise and I did really enjoy running. However, there was a problem, my heart couldn’t handle it. Without warning my heart rate would sky rocket up and then drop just as quickly. Causing me to come close to passing out several times. I have a BTEC in sports and I was a competitive dancer, I knew what was normal for my body and the crazy heart rate was not normal. Sadly though, that’s a side effect of a long term eating disorder. When your body runs out of fat reserves to use for energy it will turn to breaking down muscle. Your heart is a muscle and that’s a very dangerous game to play. Thankfully I didn’t have that level of muscle breakdown, I was just very weak.
As a safety precaution, I wore my mum’s tracker with a heart rate monitor for a run. Being able to see when it was rising and dropping allowed us to change our speed and walk before things got bad.
Other than that one run, I’ve not worn a tracker.
The process to take off the Alta and let it go was surprisingly hard and just like my ultimate recovery and healing of anorexia, it needed to start with God. A lot of prayer and having some very serious conversations with my councilor led to me being able to take it off and it’s stayed off since.
Fitness trackers aren’t bad.
If you’re wanting to start a healthier lifestyle, become more active or train for a sporting event, then they’re great. I really like with my fitbit Alta the fact that you could set a silent alarm on it to wake you up on a morning. I enjoyed the fact that I could sync mine up with my friends and we’d have fun competitions to see who could do the most amount of steps in a day.
But there should be a word of caution for those recovering or suffering with an eating disorder. This little device might promise you so much. It might give you sense of control and make you feel like you can achieve your goals. But it’s a dangerous path to follow and you’re reading this and you’re battling an ED and wearing a tracker, please do your body a favor and take it off. Yes it might give you the feeling of comfort as you can see what calories you’ve burned that day. But counting calories isn’t freedom.
Fitness trackers aren’t bad, but are you wearing one for the right reasons?
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