Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Fitbit-orexia

Fitbits have gone from being something athlete's wear in order to specialize their training and diets, to a fashion accessory that everyone - from my slightly active family members, to my therapist - are wearing.

But why? 

In most cases, calorie counting is the wrong way to go about dieting. Healthy eating choices, being aware of hunger cues and moderate exercise is the current recommended method to lose weight (if weight loss is needed). It seems that individuals at their set point weights are trying to lose more weight in order to be thin, thinking that thin is synonymous with health. 

Thin and healthy are very different things. In fact, many elite athletes are less 'healthy' than a moderately active individual, due to the strain they put on their body to be at the top of their sport. Looking up to fitness models as inspiration is not the same as looking up to health. Trying to sculpt out a specific body type is actually quite destructive, leading to poor body image. 

What do Fitbits have to do with this?

Many behaviors of those who use Fitbits are similar to eating disorder symptoms. These include: 
  • Calorie counting
  • Tracking food intake
  • Tracking exercise
  • Over exercising
  • Restricting food intake
  • Making up for overeating with excessive exercise
  • Having weight loss competitions
We've been tricked by marketing companies that these are good behaviors That these behaviors make us stronger and healthier. They don't. They encourage disordered eating patterns. These behaviors can trigger eating disorders in those who are genetically pre-dispositioned.

There's also the issue of trusting these little devices. Many get very attached to the number they see on their Fitibit. Whether it be how many calories they burned, how many calories they ate, or how many steps they took. How do you know that this is accurate? Waving your arm around makes the device think you took more steps.

When it comes to fitbits, my first thought is of how destructive they can be. I see why they would be helpful in some situations, but I don't think that's the general case. I especially don't think that fitbit competitions should be a part of the system.

If you're planning on getting a fitbit, make sure you're doing it for the right reasons, and that you don't start sliding down a very slippery slope. 

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