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Setting a Boundary Even Q Might Agree With


I love my Apple watch, but I’m starting to wonder whether it’s good for me. It’s not about the connectedness element – I like knowing when I receive texts from my kids, and I would definitely miss these reach-outs without the watch because I leave my phone all over the house and at the bottom of any bag I carry. I also love that I can answer a call as if I'm James Bond, speaking at my wrist to hold a conversation. I think it’s amazing that I can glance down to see how far I am from a green or water hazard on the golf course, and it is true joy to run while listening to music without a phone in hand. That said, when my watch zaps me to stand up, to close my exercise rings, to award a badge for seven straight days of reaching my fitness goals, or to ask me if I am working out even if I am just taking an after-dinner stroll, it just reinforces my own obsessive tendencies around weight and exercise. As I seek to find balance, I am not sure the fitness elements of the Apple watch are serving me well.


I love data – I like making rational decisions based on hard facts that are indisputable for being based in numbers. Pit this against feelings where one relies on gut or emotional instinct to make choices. I am never sure I can trust those inclinations. Obviously, I use both kinds of inputs all the time, but I think I have come to value data more because there’s much less subjective judgment involved. I often have conflicting feelings about what side of a decision to come down on, but when data gives credence to one side or the other, there isn’t as much to dispute.


Whenever anyone thinks about setting an exercise routine, goals are chosen, and plans are made around attaining/maintaining a certain level of fitness, strength, or weight. The goals are set using measurable metrics, but then, as we then embark on our plan, feelings come into play. If we’re tired one day, we might question if we have enough energy/if we feel like exerting ourselves. Another day, if we’re feeling particularly strong, we might push a little farther than planned. But when an Apple watch is combined with a fitness-obsessive personality, feelings are crowded out entirely by the watch’s prescribed actions and reminders urging compliance. For those who need a little push to exercise, the Apple watch serves as a positive and reinforcing coach, but for those who need a little push to take a day off, the Apple watch becomes a bit of a nightmare.


I don’t want to give up my Apple watch, but I have decided to challenge myself not to use it for fitness tracking for a week (at least one for now!) and see what I do and how I feel. Beyond actively not tracking my workouts for calorie count, I am turning off the daily goals (standing, active minutes, calorie!), and I’m going to see if I can mute fitness notifications entirely. I don’t actually think it will change my routine that much, but what I am hoping is that it changes my attitude on the margin. Right now, I bike or run or walk to meet my Apple watch goals, a proxy for what is supposedly enough. For the next week (at least!), I’m going to set a reasonable time goal and try to think less about data and more about how good (or bad) I feel in the moment. I may turn all of the fitness tracking back on, but if I do, I hope it is with a better understanding of how to acknowledge the data without being governed by it.


Two of my closest friends who are also fitness fiends refuse to wear an Apple watch. One of them told me she won’t wear it because she believes she will stop enjoying exercise. I believe she is on to something, and I’m going to see if she’s right.

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