Living in Digital Times invited SGL to the International CES Digital Health Summit that debuted wearable tech earlier this year.
Though many of our readers use fitness app technology to help them reach their health goals is it possible that Quantified Self (QS) frequent digital health monitoring might be counterproductive for some?
Our Guest Writer Charlese Compartore gives her opposing viewpoint to QS from the perspective of a SmartyGirl recovering from eating disorders.
SmartyGirl Charlese spoke with Editor-in-Chief Renee by phone to share 5 Unplugged Tips for Managing Emotional Eating During the Holidays.
If you are interested in testing out a “manual override” for the upcoming feast-days, then read on. Consider this a break from The Phantom Tollbooth’s Digitopolis.
Note: This is article is not medical advice. Please consult with health professionals before making a change in your health routines.
1. Feel your feelings. When strong emotions are triggered, we often want to distract ourselves or divert them. That’s where emotional eating can start. Acknowledge what you feel and deal with that discomfort. Google a feelings chart if you are not sure what to name it. Maybe you need to mourn. Use safe coping methods.
2. Move but have fun. Choose an activity that won’t cause resentment. Love the outdoors but think you can only make progress indoors in the gym? Pick a new sport and you’ll have so much fun, you won’t notice that you are building muscle and improving cardio.
3. Guard your time. Exercise your “no” to requests by others. Sure it’s a verbal exercise that might not make you break a sweat. But practicing communication and resisting pressure from others can give you better emotional wellness.
4. Qualify instead of Quantify. See the feelings chart, again. Instead of making a clothing size your goal, why not reward yourself for giving yourself an affirmation rather than a put down when you pass a mirror.
5. Journal long-hand. This is a place to express your discomfort and your small victories. This is not a confession log for others to read about your fails. Instead include non-eating and non-exercise related ambitions.
Here’s SmartyGirl Charlese Compartore’s story, below, in her own words. Feel free to chime in in the comments below.
Like most people, I’m always excited when Apple comes out with a new iPhone. They’re constantly raising the bar on technology and the sleek design of our mobile companions. The changes that come our way every fall are eagerly anticipated, along with long lines at your nearest Apple store. I love updating my phone when the new iOS version makes it’s way into my notifications. It’s like Christmas for me. New features, looks, and colors. Enhanced apps, and new, easier ways to do things that are sometimes far beyond my concept of technology and usually even hard to grasp. But it’s these things that make it so much fun.
This year, I was most excited about the new iOS version. I was ready for a change in my life, even if it was just my cell phones operating system. When the phone was finally finished updating (which felt like it took forever), I was surprised by a new app. A white square with a pink heart in the right corner greeted me with the name “Health”. When I opened the new feature app, and impatiently started pressing on my touchscreen, I saw a list of categories: body measurements such as fitness results, nutrition inputs and sleep vitals. A few things ran through my mind. I was happy that Apple was aiming towards making people aware of their own health, and taking steps to help them live a healthier lifestyle, especially since this is a huge epidemic in our country. The next thing I though “How can I delete this off my phone?”
Although I think this app is an excellent idea, it’s not for me or others like me. I’m almost a year into recovery from anorexia and exercise bulimia. I finished an excellent outpatient rehab program in Concord, CA called Casa Serena at the beginning of January. I’m still not done recovering, in fact, I’ve just scratched the surface. This app reminded me of how undeniably obsessed I was with the first things on the list that were staring me in the face. Body measurements, fitness results, nutrition inputs, and sleep vitals were triggers for me.
A year ago, my life was consumed with these things. It was all about how many inches I could lose around my waist, arms, hips, and thighs. Fitness was my life. I did nothing but go to the gym and workout. I had no time for friends or family. Me. All about me, and my new “healthy lifestyle”. I was obsessed with nutrition facts and labels. I had to track everything I put in my mouth, even if it was just a bite of something that I wanted to try. I made sure I never went above 700 calories a day. My results were amazing, weighing myself 5 times a day just to “make sure” I didn’t gain any weight back by eating an extra almond. But here’s the kicker… with every pound I lost, I looked in the mirror and felt like I had gained 5.
My results were, in reality, far from amazing. I was sick. Mentally and physically. I had all of the apps on my phone that tracked my nutrition, my exercise, and most importantly, how many calories I burned. When I had finally crashed and burned and wound up in rehab, I had to delete these apps and throw away the scale. I learned that my happiness does not have to rely on these. My body appearance does not define me.
Eating disorders come in all different sizes, genders, races and ages. It doesn’t discriminate. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any other mental illness. Nearly 20 million women will suffer from an eating disorder at some point in their life and 10 million males in the United States will suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some point in their life. This isn’t just about an app on a cell phone. This is about the pressure to be “healthy”, or really, what our country considers “healthy”. Being healthy is about the nourishment we give our bodies, the outdoor activities we love to do in the sunshine or rain, and the positive messages we feed our minds. It shouldn’t be about how many inches our waists are wide, what the scale yells at us every time we step on it, or making sure we don’t eat “that” because there’s too many carbs in it. We should all feel comfortable in our skin, no matter what size we are. Women and men. People in general. The whole human race.
So, as wonderful as I think “Health” is for so many, will following the norm require us to report to an app on our phones for it? Can’t I opt out to record my measurements, weight and nutrition without social disapproval? Some will say, “Just don’t use it” or “Switch to a different phone.” That’s not the problem… myself and others in recovery won’t use it, but it’s still there. It’s still on our phones, acting as a trigger for so many.
I feel like we need to come together as a country, change the way we think we look and learn acceptance of our appearances. Our media strives for perfection, and reflects it upon all of us, with the constant pressure to be something that isn’t real. Reality isn’t the photoshopped models in the magazines at the checkout line, or the ridiculously low calorie diet that so many are prepared to live on for the rest of their lives just to maintain America’s standard of “beautiful” and “healthy”. In this life, we only get one body. Let’s learn to appreciate our bodies for what they do for us, rather than criticize how they look. Beauty is size-less.