Today, I handled a mountain of laundry. A sinkful of dishes. I swept, vacummed, scrubbed, mopped, tidied, cleaned my house.
I finally sat down in my sparkly living room, pleasantly tired and ready for a break. I glanced at my fitbit. 1,980 steps.
I should be used to it by now: fitbit can't really account for housework, since scouring pots and sorting socks don't involve a lot of stepping.
(Right: housework doesn't count as real work, in our fitbits AND in our socioeconomic reality. Coincidence?)
But then fitbit doesn't really know how to account for my yoga practice, either. It doesn't know the difference between a lovely walk with my dog and a harried trip to Costco.
fitbit might be able to count my steps and estimate my caloric output, but it's not able to measure how I FEEL.
Quantitative measurements, it turns out, are shitty indicators of my health and happiness. Here are other count-y things that have NOTHING to do with how I feel:
* How many calories I have ingested. I am happier when I eat high-quality food.
* How many minutes I have jogged. I have over-exercised myself into injury by pushing myself farther than my body wanted to go.
* How many inches my waist measures. My pregnant self delighted in the permission to love my enormous belly.
More numbers that have nothing to do with my health and happiness:
* My dress size.
* My weight.
Let me pause and elaborate on that last one.
When I was 18, I went to college and gained the famous Freshman 15, except it was more like 30 for me.
In the summer and fall of the next year, I took it all off and then some. Our culture reads that as a capital-T Triumph, but for me it was the beginning of a 20-year obsession with food and exercise.
I counted and counted everything to do with those.
I counted my minutes of exercise. I counted how long I could sprint on a treadmill. I counted how many risers I used in step aerobics. I counted my heart rate. I counted my miles run. I counted my Stairmaster minutes, and level, and speed.
I counted my calories, inexpertly. I had not yet figured out that the quality of my diet (flour-, sugar-, and processed-food laden as it was) was why so little food yielded so many calories.
I thought I needed to consume fewer calories than I burned if I wanted the number on the scale and the size tags to keep getting smaller.
And so I counted and counted. The rock bottom of it was the saltine rationing.
Studying at night, with hunger gnawing at me, I would count out a stack of saltine crackers. Maybe 8? However many are in a "serving size."
(Serving sizes. Ugh more counting.)
Sloooooowly, I would nibble away at the saltine stack, trying to concentrate on my coursework.
Can you imagine?
I was the skinniest, lightest, smallest, and absolutely most miserable I have ever been.
I remember being terrified by nachos. Seriously.
I remember being terrified to miss a workout. Seriously.
It took me a long time to work through that terror, and along the way what I've figured out is that all that counting only makes me feel worse.
Here's what has always helped me away from obsession, restriction, and misery and toward sustainable wellness and body confidence:
QUALITY, not quantity. So I decide what counts.
I count not how many calories are in my food, but how it makes me feel.
I count not how long or how hard I exercise, but how it makes me feel.
I count not what size my clothes are, but how they make me feel.
Freedom from self-hatred counts.
The magic of nachos counts.
Housework and the lovely home it yields sure as fuck count.
This is simple, yes, but not easy in a culture hell-bent on measuring health with numbers. It takes hard work to remember, again and again, that You Count no matter what numbers are associated with you.
So. Goodbye fitbit. It was fun, until it wasn't, and then I knew you had to go.