Why I’m Saying Goodbye to My Wellness Trackers This Year

Source: ColorJoy Stock
Source: ColorJoy Stock

As we look toward welcoming a new year, many of us are reflecting on our wellness routines and looking for ways to improve them. For some, this means investing in the latest fitness trackers or downloading apps that promise to help us sleep better, eat healthier, or meditate more mindfully

I’ve always been a big fan of the data offered by wellness trackers like the Apple Watch or the Peloton app, and there was a time when it felt empowering to track my sleep, screen time, how many steps I’d taken, and even my menstrual cycle. But over time, I noticed I’d become increasingly focused on hitting certain targets and goals—too focused. 

I’d stress about getting to bed early enough one day, and then sacrifice sleep the next in favor of squeezing in a workout. My relationship with exercise became strained, and instead of feeling empowered and strong I felt anxious and burnt out.

It wasn’t just my physical health that was suffering. The constant stream of data and notifications had begun to take a toll on my mental well-being, too. Every notification, every buzz, and every alert left me feeling like I was behind and struggling to catch up—like I wasn’t doing enough. My reliance on technology was affecting not only my body but also my mind.

So, I made the radical decision to break up with my wellness trackers. And while I felt some trepidation saying goodbye to the constant stream of data telling me how to optimize my life, it’s led to some eye-opening shifts in how I approach my health.

I’m letting my energy levels guide my activity

Rather than depending on reminders from my watch to take a break from sitting and moving around, I’ve begun paying attention to my energy levels and incorporating pauses when I need them to refresh myself. I’ve also started to rediscover the joys of movement. Instead of powering through a run because my watch says I still have 2,000 steps to go for the day, I’m exploring other forms of exercise that bring me pleasure, like yoga or solo dance parties at my desk. I’ve also rediscovered the joy of meandering walks through my neighborhood without the pressure of meeting a step goal.

wellness tracker
Source: ColorJoy Stock

I’m learning to recognize my body’s hunger and thirst cues

Saying goodbye to my wellness trackers has meant learning to recognize and trust that my body will tell me what kind of nourishment it needs. Rather than relying on a device to tell me how much water I should drink each day, I now pay attention to my thirst levels and drink accordingly. And instead of worrying about whether I’m getting enough fruit and veggies in a day, I consider what my body is asking me for. Some days that means something protein-rich, like an omelet or a burger, while other days, I might crave the garden-freshness of a huge salad. For me, the key has been to acknowledge both my hunger and my fullness, while respecting my overall health.

I’m rediscovering the joy of spontaneity

Without the pressure to close all my activity rings, I’ve become more able to seize the moment for impromptu snowball fights with my kids or games of “the floor is lava.” I’m not constantly hustling everyone through our daily routine so I can fit in some exercise or get to bed exactly on time. Instead, if it feels right, I’ll linger a little longer than planned over a playful bathtime or cozy bedtime story session. I’m still conscious of incorporating movement and other healthy habits, but I feel much more open to embracing the joy that comes from the unexpected moments that shape our lives.

I’m tuning into my body’s natural rhythms

Sleep has always been a struggle for me, to the point where my obsessive focus on protecting my window of eight hours a night has caused me to rush through putting my kids to bed, social events, and time with my husband. Now, instead of tracking my bedtime, I’ve learned to trust my natural rhythms rather than trying to hit a specific number of hours. Yes, sometimes I stay up too late and regret it the next day, but at least I don’t also have to deal with the guilt of my transgression staring up at me from my tracking app.

I’m cultivating mindfulness

Learning to listen to my body’s cues and rhythms has forced me to be in the present moment more than ever. I can’t make decisions about what my body needs if I don’t stop to listen to those needs. And without notifications reminding me when to get up and move around, I have to stay conscious of the time that’s passing instead of zoning out. Also, now that I’m not dependent on my phone for wellness notifications, I don’t need it with me all the time. I find I’m spending a lot less time getting distracted by my phone.

mom and child doing yoga
Source: Canva

Don’t get me wrong, the transition to living without my wellness trackers hasn’t been seamless. If you’re thinking of making a similar switch, here are a few tips I’d recommend to help you get started:

1. Start small

Try leaving your tracker at home or in another room for a day and see how it feels. Gradually increase the amount of time you spend without it until you feel comfortable phasing it out.

2. Listen to your body

Pay attention to your hunger and fullness cues, your energy levels, and your emotions. Let your body guide you towards what it needs, rather than relying on a device.

3. Find alternative sources of motivation

Join a fitness class, find a workout buddy, or try a new hobby that brings you joy. There are plenty of ways to stay active and engaged without a tracker.

4. Be kind to yourself

Remember that it’s okay to make mistakes and have off days. Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a workout or fail to get a good night’s sleep—just get back on track and keep moving forward.

Wellness trackers have undoubtedly revolutionized the way we approach health and wellness, but in the pursuit of numbers and goals, it’s easy to lose touch with the most important aspect of health–listening to your body. By leaving behind the constraints of quantified wellness, I’ve discovered a deeper connection to my body and a greater sense of freedom. And while I may not know exactly how many steps I took today, I do know that every day I’m moving forward with intention.

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