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Recovery is More Important Than a Fitness Tracker

By Katrin Alyss--Right before a Las Vegas trip in May 2013, I became interested in exercising. I purchased a watch that had a pedometer on it so I could keep track of how many steps I walked.
 

Trigger warning: Descriptions of eating disordered behavior.
 

During my Vegas trip, I would wear the watch and track how much I walked. I would challenge myself to see if I could walk further than I had the day before. When my partner and I returned home from Vegas, I wanted to keep up this walking challenge, and warm weather made it easy for me to walk, using my pedometer watch to track my steps.

In the summertime, I was outside more, whether it was mowing the lawn or running errands, and I noticed that I craved the exercise. However, the more I exercised, the less I ate. At first it was fine with me, because I wanted to fit into a smaller size.

Around late July, I convinced myself that I didn’t like food too much at all. When I did eat, I wanted to work it off very quickly. At that point, I realized that it was starting to become an unhealthy obsession.

I let my therapist know where I stood with the food issue. I also started a food and exercise journal to keep track of what I ate and how much I exercised. During sessions, I would show her the journal, too. I made a conscious effort not to use my pedometer watch as much and to calm down on the exercise.

This worked for me—until I was invited to a reunion the next year. I started exercising more and eating less to look good for the reunion. My rapid weight loss alarmed my therapist. She told me that I could end up in the hospital if my weight loss continued. This scared me, because I would have no control over the situation and I wouldn’t be allowed to exercise as much as I wanted to.

After my relapse, my therapist helped me set parameters for healthy and balanced eating and exercise—without the use of a fitness tracker. Fitness trackers like Fitbit and the fitness app for the iPhone encourage exercise tracking and can be problematic for people in recovery from eating disorders. Those who have been given exercise limitations from their treatment teams should not use fitness trackers; they encourage the very thing that, for real and serious health reasons, they should avoid.

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: Katrin lives in Roseville MI, with her best friend and life partner. She loves to go to Cedar Point during the summer, where she can ride the biggest coasters. At home she takes care of her two kitties, Nefi and Horatio. Katrin loves to help others fight this battle called the eating disorder and hopes to inspire others through her writing and truthfulness. Her hobbies include writing, painting T-shirts, dancing and spending time with her husband and friends.

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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