Proud2Bme | Health is Not a Number

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Health is Not a Number

By Lauren Myers--In the past year, there has been a surge in the popularity of those trendy wearable wristbands that monitor and track all facets of a person’s daily life—from food intake to activity and even sleep. They do this through buzzing, lights, emails and push notifications that analyze and assess personal data. The idea is that by measuring ourselves, we are able to better understand ourselves.

Trigger warning: Descriptions of eating disordered behavior.
 

The University of Missouri has partnered with the “Healthy for Life” program, trying to promote fitness by offering Fitbits at a reduced price. Students have the opportunity to redeem prizes once they reach one million recorded steps. Though it may appear that this mix of technology and activity tracking is an innovative way to keep students engaged in their health and wellness, activity trackers often take a one-size-fits-all approach in defining what is healthy.

The reality is that our body types, fitness levels and metabolisms vary. However, millions of people struggle to some degree with weight, body image and self-acceptance. This growing obsession with counting everything and anything makes us lose track of what really counts: listening to and trusting our bodies.

During the time that I was struggling with my eating disorder, my parents got me an activity tracker. At first, I didn’t think much of it. But before I knew it, the goals I set for myself had to be enforced. I wore the band around my wrist and tracked every single step, hour of sleep and every minute of activity I was doing. Soon, it wasn’t enough to track everything, and I started to compete against myself. I had to walk more steps, work out longer and do more every day.

The band that started out as a tool on my wrist started to feel more like a handcuff, tying me to exercise addiction and disordered thoughts. Later, in recovery, every time I used a tracking device or app, I had to think about what I was measuring, why I was measuring and what I intended to do with the numbers, which were all unhealthy and ruining my quality of life. With the help of my treatment team, I had enough courage to take off my band and delete my app.

Today, I don’t know how much I weigh, how many calories I eat or how many miles I walk. Without numbers, I feel whole.

Editor's note: Oral Roberts University is requiring freshmen to wear Fitbits that will track their daily aerobic activity and then grading them based on the data they collect. Sign our Change.org petition today and tell ORU to drop their harmful Fitbit requirement for good!

About the blogger: Lauren is a student at Simpson College majoring in philosophy and minoring in women's studies and exercise science. On campus, Lauren is involved TriDelta, SELF - a body positivity and activism group, SARA - Sexual Assault Response Advocates, and volunteering.

For more on the Fitbit, check out:

Tell Oral Roberts University to Stop Grading Students on Their Fitbit Activity!

Oral Roberts University's Fitbit Requirement for Freshmen is Absurd

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