To Track or Not To Track: That Is the Question
Six weeks ago a coaching client asked me my opinion of the various tracking devices on the market. On the spot I answered: “hmmm…I really haven’t considered them much since my philosophy is the opposite of math for weight loss.” The talk I have been giving recently is entitled “It’s not just math: how calories in minus calories out is not the entire equation for sustainable weight loss”. My kneejerk reaction was that tracking exercise (or fitness, or steps or movement) was antithetical to the basis of my coaching practice. I saw this as a way to obsess about calories and stay in diet mentality.
Then I decided to look at it from another angle. Within days it was all I could think about.
Before spending money investing on a gadget I decided to investigate free options and see if: 1) I liked using one; 2) what it would do for me; and 3) whether I actually would feel any differently. A friend told me about a free Android app called “S Health”. I downloaded it and started the experiment.
The first thing I did was select my goal: “be more active” with 45 active minutes per day. For trackers I selected “steps” with 10,000 steps per day as my goal.
When I started in late April I was sitting and working on the computer for long hours. My trackers accurately reflected this. I was a bit stunned at how truly inert I was at the beginning of the experiment. I learned that to reach 10,000 steps I typically needed at least 100 active minutes per day.
As the weeks went by I found that I looked at my tracker throughout the day and started finding ways to add extra walks and opportunities for fitness. Getting to 10,000 steps takes me two long walks or one fitness class and one walk. Walking my geriatric collie, Lassie, does not help as she can only go around the block! I learned that I am indeed motivated by receiving positive messages from my app telling me that I have met my goal (gold star mentality). There have been times that I have been at 9900 steps and I have jogged in place to make that 10,000 number.
Was it obsessive? I don’t think so. I would say that it was encouraging and kind of fun. While my coaching practice does not look at exercise as a feature of calorie burning, I do believe that movement and fitness are an integral part of health, wellness and embodiment. For me, the tracker seems to be a positive tool that I will continue to play with for now.
Neshama Mousseau, MSW