Smartwatch & Tracker Users: “Un-quantify” Yourself 14.3% of the Time

I admit to intentional irony in the headline, but here’s my point in “analog”: once per week or so, don’t use your smartwatch or fitness tracker (or at least, don’t obsess over it). I’m experimenting with this, brothers, and urge you to do the same.

by

I admit to intentional irony in the headline, but here’s my point in “analog”: once per week or so, don’t use your smartwatch or fitness tracker (or at least, don’t obsess over it).  I’m experimenting with this, brothers, and urge you to do the same.

Between a fifth and a quarter of Americans own a wearable device (roughly half use it regularly).  But my guess is we OlderBeasts, who care a lot about fitness and welcome all the help we can get, are much higher-than-average users.

So a lot of us measure and strive on things like: how far did I go at what average pace?…how many calories did I burn?…what was my average and max heart rate?. I certainly do (I just moved to a “strapless” GPS/heart-rate watch that does all the land-based stuff plus count laps, stroke efficiency and things like that in the pool).

Arriving at my town’s pool the other day, I realized – horror! – I’d left the precious new wearable at home.  I actually momentarily considered driving back to get it, then realized “this is crazy—man has been swimming for 10,000 years without a gizmo on his wrist…including me for the first 40 or so years of life—I think I can ‘tough it out’ today with no tech.”

Well, I had a great swim, and thinking about this “un-quant yourself” theme, I realized it’s happened to me every now and again for running, too (forgot to bring my smartwatch on a business trip).

turn-off-your-mind

So I decided to start going low-tech sometimes on purpose.  Why might you consider this, too?

⇒ Unclutter your mind to let creativity and problem-solving bubble up while you work out.  One of the reasons we exercise is to get away from the modern world and its sometimes-suffocating nature.  Not worrying about your little wrist screen can be freeing, every now and then, and let our minds rest, or (sometimes) do their best work.

⇒ Reduce unhealthy desire for “farther/faster.”  I’m reasonably competitive, with myself especially.  That helps motivate lifelong workout habits, which is great, but when paired with precise measurement tech, it can also limit satisfaction with a workout if it wasn’t “better” than the prior one.

Example to show how crazy this actually is:  I swim at a pace per 100 meters of 1:51-1:53, for my ~2400-meter swim a couple of times per week (I’m not a fast swimmer).  Deep down, I want each swim to be a bit faster than the last.  But is this even possible for any sustained period?  If I improved my pace by one second each time I swim, within six months I’d be at world record pace…and that’s not happening.

So it’s healthy to embrace this:  at some point on your fitness curve for a given activity, you’re not going to get much faster, or go much farther.  That’s a beautiful thing, if you flip around your perspective:  you’ve gotten into really good shape, refined technique…and now you’re going to maintain performance, and enjoy your body’s ability to keep doing this.  Unplugging from wearable tech now and again helps allow this perspective.

⇒ Listen to your body.  Not relying on tech-enabled quantification brings you back to a more elemental way of calibrating your effort – how do I feel?  This is a good thing.

⇒ Finally, there’s the simple but deeply philosophical idea of sometimes just being a man in his natural state, doing something physical like your ancestors have been doing since back into the deep shadows of the past.  Getting the f**king computer off your wrist helps bring that back, man, and that’s important.

###

Am I getting rid of my fitness watch?  No way!  There are tremendous benefits to it, and I’ll have one for the rest of my life.  But as with anything great that we might risk overdoing, a little moderation with wearable tech keeps everything in balance and makes life work best.

So, I’m going to “forget” my tech once a week or so, for an easy-to-moderate and mellow workout, and I think I’ll be happier for it.

I think you may, too…let me know how it goes!

“Does anybody really know what time it is…does anybody really care.” (Chicago, Does Anybody Know What Time it Is?)

You may also like

article-image
Health & Medicine , Philosophy & Motivation

Fitness as We Age: 5 Ways to Combat Physical Vulnerability

In our quest to stay fit and vital as we age, sometimes we can’t help but experience feelings that counter-productively undermine our resolve.

It’s natural to fear and lament that our basic physical capabilities are diminished compared to our younger selves. But while this is true, you’re less over-the-hill than you think, man. This should be a manageable fear. Anyway, what are you gonna do about this – exercise less and let yourself get less fit because you can’t run a mile as fast as you could 20 years ago?

Also, like people of any age, we sometimes battle that sluggish feeling that whispers “don’t work out today…there’s always tomorrow.” But as we age, doubling down on fitness becomes ever more important, so effectively responding to that sluggish feeling is key.

Here’s the feeling that threatens our long-term body-and-soul health more than any other: the fear that we are getting more fragile, more VULNERABLE to injury and other activity-limiting aches and pains.

This is so dangerous because we can observe that it’s least partly true…but at the same time we can’t let it dictate our fitness habits and start a self-fulfilling downward trend. So how to deal with this shadow of vulnerability we feel? The trick is to neither ignore nor surrender to it.

Here are five things you can do starting now, to face up to this most-human feeling of vulnerability.

article-image
Mindfulness & Stress Management , Philosophy & Motivation

Stop Thinking of Fitness/Nutrition in a Vacuum! They’re a “System” With Your Emotions + Intellect.

PLEASE FORGIVE ME, man. This article might cross a boundary, into “your private business.” And certainly, it’s just scratching the surface of deep stuff.

We know fitness/nutrition investments we make directly improve our sense of emotional well-being and our intellectual effectiveness.

But also, I wonder. When we struggle to find time, motivation, discipline for our physical health…is this an isolated issue, or rather a symptom of emotional or intellectual blockages we should work through?

article-image
Fitness Planning & Gear , Philosophy & Motivation

Your Fitness Mix Beyond 40: Six Signs You May Need to Change It Up

To begin with, you DO need a well-balanced mix of fitness activities.

I don’t care if you can run far and fast, bike up steep hills, or lift impressive amounts. If any of those things is all you do, brother, you won’t have the best blend of endurance, strength, flexibility and balance to stay physically vital for your hopefully-many decades to come.

Past 40, God-given levels of these physical traits do start to erode. It’s only by our conscious and continuous effort, via a good fitness mix, that we maintain them. This foundational OlderBeast article talks more about this need to seek more diverse fitness.

OK, so what’s the best mix – what activities, how often? There’s no single “right” answer for everyone. Even your own personal mix will vary over the seasons and the years.

But there are clear signs you’ll see if your current mix isn’t working. Here are six I recognize. Any apply to you? If so, it might be time to mix things up more.

article-image
Health & Medicine , Philosophy & Motivation

Epic Journey: What Today’s Data & Current Trends Say About Your Longevity

A recent OlderBeast article highlighted that we have an opportunity to enhance the direction and meaning of life, as we start its longest chapter. How long? With life expectancy for healthy people continuing to rise – and anti-aging science breakthroughs in the mid-distance – maybe really long.

Let’s discuss this with actual numbers, as positive motivation to double down on your fitness, nutrition and wellness.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.