Topic Tuesday: Recovery

“The Millennial Handcuff” (By: Emily Grinstead)

Fitbits, Apple Watches, [insert other fitness device here].

Whatever brand you choose, you know what I’m talking about: activity trackers. They’re everywhere. They’re a trendy status symbol, showing others that you don’t simply value your health, but that you’re so on top of it that you monitor your eating and exercise with technology.

I’m no exception to this trap. I’ve owned multiple Fitbits and an Apple Watch. I loved these devices; or better put, my eating disorder loved these devices (and still does). And when you think about it from ED’s perspective, they’re pretty wonderful little inventions: they keep track of exactly what you eat, how much you exercise, and how much you weigh; they send you notifications when you’re not meeting your “goals”; and they reward you when you reach certain milestones but get mad at you when you don’t follow the plan.

Just as the scale can be so destructive, fitness trackers keep their users preoccupied with food and body. I personally wouldn’t recommend for anyone to own a fitness tracker of any sort, but I know this opinion isn’t universally accepted by any means. However, I think it’s safe to say that those who do own and actively use fitness trackers are much more vulnerable to the trappings of diet culture, including obsessively monitoring food intake and exercising to change one’s body.

One of the best decisions I’ve made in my recovery has been to stop wearing my fitness trackers. I made that decision this summer, after coming home early from my summer job due to a near-relapse into my eating disorder, and I’ve never looked back.

Our bodies are hardwired with the ability to nourish ourselves and move appropriately. That’s why intuitive eating and joyful, mindful movement are at the cornerstone of the final stages of eating disorder recovery. They allow the recovered individual to resume normal eating and movement in a way that feels truly awesome for their body.

So take a second look at that item wrapped around your wrist and ask yourself, “Is this adding something positive to my life, or is it keeping me trapped in patterns of disordered eating?” I don’t know about you, but the last thing I’d want is to be paying money for something that’s keeping me in an active relationship with my eating disorder.

Let’s come together and take this step forward towards letting go of the food / body obsession. Simply removing the tracker off your body and giving it away or even throwing it away… imagine what your life would be like without that trendy little handcuff telling you what to do!

About the Author

Emily is a junior at Vanderbilt University majoring in Medicine, Health and Society. She loves Jesus, journaling, brunch foods, and all things Christmas and Disney. Houston, TX is her proud home, but she is slowly becoming a converted Nashvillian. She hopes to become both a Nurse Practitioner and a Registered Dietitian so that she can use her own experiences with anorexia and orthorexia to treat patients with eating disorders.