I remember my first pedometer. It was many, many years ago, so nothing fancy, but I remember thinking how helpful it was to know how active (or inactive) I was throughout the day. It would help encourage me to get up and move more, or make that trip to the gym even when I wasn't feeling as motivated, because I had a goal to get to.
And it is for these reasons that pedometers and activity trackers can be really great for clients and anyone in general who is looking to improve health or lose weight. However, over time I began to notice a trend in how clients relied on these devices to justify other behaviors in a way that ultimately interfered with our progress toward bigger goals.
Read on to see if your stalled progress could be due to your tracker.
1. You rely on the calories burned to determine how much you "can" eat in a day.
One of the coolest features of trackers can be the estimation of calories burned. While some trackers are more accurate than others, there is still a risk in error for the number of calories burned. If you're measuring calorie for calorie, then you may be overconsuming and underburning and may not even realize it. Not to mention, weight loss is not always about calories in vs. calories out, and focusing on calories alone does not address issues like nutrition! If you are finding yourself adding calories up to see what extra room you have, then you may be sabotaging your efforts overall.
2. You bypass activities because they do not produce a lot of steps.
Activity and steps are good, but when we don't participate in other healthy activities in favor of the ones that produce more steps, we shortchange our results and limit our success. Examples of activity that are low in step production include yoga and flexibility/mobility exercises, weight training, spin, water aerobics, or the stair master. When it comes to exercise, variety is key to good health and truly maximizing your results. If you find yourself only on the elliptical or the treadmill in order to hit your steps, or staying home to walk instead of getting in a good workout at the gym, then you may be doing more harm than good.
3. You are overemphasizing the numbers and not learning to listen to your body.
Through points 1 and 2, the end result is really that you are prioritizing a number and not your overall health. Just imagine, you had an amazing workout in a body pump class, and look down and see that your steps are minimal - if you find yourself negating the impact or effectiveness of that workout, despite what your endorphins and muscles and sweat are telling you, then you are possibly too attached to the number and are not focusing on listening to your body.
I think that trackers can be a great asset to a health goal, especially when just starting out on a weight loss or health journey. It can be very eye opening for people to see just how little physical activity they may get, or experience how much activity is required to hit a certain goal. But I also believe that there is an inherent risk of over dependence on these tiny devices that can distract from the true mission of the journey - learning to live a healthier lifestyle.
If you are currently using an activity tracker, a fun challenge would be to take it off for a week and see how your activities change. Do you notice a difference? I'd love to hear from you!
Are you ready to hit your weight loss goals? Schedule a free breakthrough session and let's get you ready to ring in 2018 a few steps ahead!