We are so lucky that we live in a digital age, where many aspects of our lives are made easier with technology. Health and fitness is one such area that has seen incredible technical advances. We can monitor our activity level, reflect on and analyse our diets and, crucially, support each other through buddy systems.
These are all wonderful things and there are many people who truly benefit from using apps and trackers. Our question is, when does this self-awareness turn into something obsessional? Because unfortunately, this can happen.
What may start as an innocent venture towards improving health can turn into a tool for self-destruction. If you become ruled by the numbers and prompts on your app, feel guilty when you miss targets and become addicted to following rules, your mental health can suffer. This is especially true if you have a history of eating disorders or exercise addiction.
Below we look at some warning signs to keep an eye out for:
You feel stressed if you can’t check your app
Sometimes we simply can’t check our apps or keep them updated. Maybe you’re at an event, on holiday or away from your phone. How does this make you feel? Do you find yourself thinking about the app and worrying about it not being updated? Do you feel stressed or even anxious?
You spend a lot of time on the app and your relationships are suffering
Does your partner complain about you being on the app constantly? Have friends or family members commented about you not being fully present when socialising because you’re consumed with tracking your diet?
You no longer feel excited about the changes you’re making
At the start of a new journey, we all get excited. We want to make changes and are hopeful that improving our health will be beneficial. Do you still feel energised and excited about what you’re doing or has it begun to feel like a chore? Do you feel like you would quite like to stop using the app, but find it difficult to get out of the habit?
You feel guilty when you miss your target
These tracking apps often have certain targets to hit or not go over. If you go over on something the app says you shouldn’t (for example sugar intake) or are under target on something (say, a certain number of steps), how does this make you feel? Do you find yourself beating yourself up about it? Do you feel guilty or like you’ve failed?
Where to go from here
Striving to improve our health and fitness should (in our opinion) come from a place of self-love. It should be about respecting our bodies and listening to them. Often tracking apps use a blanket list of targets/requirements that may not be right for your body and may even stop you listening to yourself.
If you feel you are being controlled by an app, rather than it being a tool to support your journey, you may want to consider your other options. Speaking to a nutrition professional can help you tailor a plan that’s right for you.
Diets should be filled with variety and taste – not rules. Exercise should be fun and exhilarating, not punishment.
Get support from an expert who can help you find a healthy balance so you can enjoy both – because life’s too short to feel guilty.