How do you know when your body needs to move and when it needs to rest?
How do you know when you got enough sleep, or whether it was quality sleep?
Your body tells you.
Until three years ago, I listened to it.
In February 2016, my health insurance company sent me a MisFit Flash. I’ve been tracking my steps ever since.
I started just to see what all my walking around looked like in terms of step count. But it quickly got out of hand.
My efforts In pursuit of reaching a goal of hitting 10,000 steps a day were comedic in their obsessiveness — and played well in my stand-up comedy act.
Even though I would take pride in reaching 10,000 steps a day, that “accomplishment” was not a habit. (More on the 10,000 steps piece and why that’s an illusory and stupid goal a different time.)
The real habit — and a destructive one at that — was the habit of compulsively tracking my steps. It consumed me.
A Time to Stop Counting
Wayne Muller writes that Sabbath time is a time when we stop counting things — other than our blessings.
We acknowledge that what matters most cannot be measured.
The time for me to stop counting steps has been a long time coming. I’ve resisted it, and I knew the universe would find a way to force me.
Sure enough, shortly into my stay in Santa Catalina — a time dedicated to a sabbatical rest — my MisFit app started to warn me that the battery on my Misfit Shine was running low. I didn’t have a replacement battery with me, and there would be no way to get one in Santa Catalina. The little general store doesn’t sell many things more essential than a CR2032 battery.
Earlier this week, the battery was hanging on at 2%.
It died on Wednesday.
The time to stop tracking had finally arrived.
Thursday, my last full day in Santa Catalina, was the first day since May 18, 2016 that I didn’t wear a MisFit tracker For the first time in almost 3 years, I’m not tracking my steps or my sleep (the MisFit tracked that too).
My New World Without Counting
What’s life been like without tracking my steps and sleep?
In a word: Freedom.
Freedom from the compulsion to check my step count throughout the day.
Freedom to give my body what it needs, when it needs it.
Freedom to feel the effects of activity on my body and respond to those effects, in real time.
Freedom to measure what matters.
It’s also freed up my energy to focus on other things that are more important — whether that’s doing other activities or simply resting.
Most crucially, letting go of my fitness tracker has given me freedom to listen to my own body.
When we outsource tracking of our physical body to third party apps and devices, we lose touch with our intuition and our ability to communicate with our bodies.
It turns out that the knows very well on its own when it needs to move, how, and how much.
Without the noise of the fitness tracker, I can finally tune in to listen.