Self-Worth Is Not A Number
Three weeks ago, I stopped wearing my fitness tracker. I also stopped keeping a food journal, monitoring my water intake, and weighing myself regularly. All of the technology, the resources, and the apps have a place and have various, often very beneficial, uses. I personally started wearing a fitness tracker and keeping a food journal several years ago to help monitor my expended calories vs. calories consumed so I could refuel and replenish more effectively because doing so was a big issue for me at the time. For others, these resources are helpful in promoting a more active lifestyle and aiding in weight loss. The devices and apps are, however, only effective if the data is being used meaningfully. It doesn't matter if the device tells you how many steps you've taken or how much you've slept or if the app tells you how many calories you've consumed vs burned if you don't use that information in a meaningful way. Good intentions are one thing; deliberate action is another.
I am generally a healthy person. I'm physically active, I eat well, I drink copious amounts of water, and I sleep as much as an athlete with a full-time profession can. My diet doesn't vary much from day to day or week to week, although my consumption varies depending on my current level of activity. With that in mind, it occurred to me several weeks ago that the information I was acquiring through these resources was no longer impacting my training, but it was impacting the way I lived my day, my level of stress, and how I viewed myself. In my mind, I had become a number: calories consumed, calories burned, body fat %, mile time. The numbers started to define the way I felt about myself both as an athlete and as an individual on a daily basis, so I stopped looking at them. A seemingly small decision, this was a big shift for me.
I keep a training log for personal reference, but it is private and, in general, I don't share my training. I don't think it's important. I am not active on social training websites like Strava, DailyMile, and Garmin because I train for myself; I run for myself and for the love of running. That's not to say I don't support healthy competition, but I don't ascribe to competition in training, and I know that if I did, my love for the sport would fade. It's a personal choice and it's one that works for me. It seemed only fitting, then, to make the same decision about the other training resources that were diminishing my love for training. While the numbers have their place, they cease to contribute to a healthy lifestyle when they become consuming. Self-worth should not be defined by mile times, weight, steps per day, hours trained, elevation gained, and rankings. When I can honestly say that these numbers don't affect the way I view myself and my performance as an athlete, maybe I'll look again.