I have this vision of myself as a barefoot earth mother who can lay a hand across her heart and access some deep, inner wisdom. In this vision, I glow from within (and not in that fake pregnancy way). I exercise just because I “feel like it.” I get a runner’s high. I love my body and intuitively understand what it needs. I laugh while eating salad. I enjoy cold glasses of drinking vinegar.
In reality, I am decidedly not connected to my body. A thought will pass through my mind such as “I’m thirsty” or “the sun is in my eyes,” and then the next thought will be, “I will take care of that in just a second, right after I clean the kitchen, move the laundry to the dryer, scoop the cat litter, read my children a book, and write a blog post.” Forty-five minutes later, I wonder why I am so grumpy. When it comes to getting things done, taking care of my body usually comes dead last.
I love my apps. I love that I can set alarms for when to go to bed and when to wake up. I love it when my fitness tracker vibrates to tell me I’ve walked 10,000 steps in a single day, or when my calorie counting app gives me a gold star. Blame all those sticker charts we had as kids, but these apps provide little boosts of validation and it’s super addicting.
I thought this month’s tech detox would be a good chance to try and listen better to my body. I uninstalled my calorie-counting app, and when my knockoff fitness tracker stopped syncing, I thought, “who cares, I don’t need to know what time it is! I’ll just listen to my body and follow the position of the sun.” It’s not like I need an alarm clock: I have very loud children.
I read an article on intuitive eating and decided that the calorie counting I’ve been doing on and off for years was the source of my miserable preoccupation with my weight. I was going to pay attention to the taste and texture of food. I was going to pay attention to my satiety and how the food made me feel. After some initial sugar binging, I was sure to start making healthier choices…intuitively.
The first couple of days were great. A chronic clock-watcher, I was feeling less stress about being places on time, telling myself the world wouldn’t actually end if we were late. I ate whatever I wanted because “there are no bad foods.” I had no idea how many steps I was getting, and I told myself that this was OK, because unlike David Sedaris, I wasn’t a FitBit obsessive.
Then Saturday rolled around. I slept until an ungodly 10:30am while my kids watched TV and my husband did taxes. I got up and made pancakes with WHITE FLOUR. Then I organized my kids for an hour or so of house cleaning. We had a birthday party to go to at 3, but we had plenty of time to get the house clean by then, so long as everyone pitched in!
(You know what happened next.)
We got the bathroom and kids’ room cleaned no problem. Things slowed down in the living room, and came to a dead halt in the room that is supposed to be our home office/guest room, but what the kids call “the Lego room.” Tantrums were had. Mine included threatening to re-home the Legos with “children who took good care of their things!” I went into the kitchen to get a TRASH BAG OF DOOM when I looked at the clock on the microwave and noticed it was 2:45.
Nobody had eaten lunch, we were all still in our pajamas. After some frenzied yelling we all barely made it to the car, pulling on pants and scarfing down crackers as we careened through traffic. We made it to the birthday party, but I was in a terrible mood.
To make matters worse, I stepped on the scale the next morning, I realized I had gained THREE POUNDS in a SINGLE WEEK.
Then, I got sick. I lie on the couch obsessing over WebMD articles before finally deciding to not-so-mindfully binge watch an entire season of “American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versaci.” (It was just as great and terrible as it sounds.) It was 72 degrees and sunny, but when the kids got home, they joined me on the couch for a re-watch of “Nailed It” season 2. I felt mildly guilty.
When I finally started feeling better, I trouble-shot my fitness tracker. I NEED TO KNOW WHAT TIME IT WAS, DAMMIT. And I re-installed my calorie counting app. This part of my tech detox was an unmitigated disaster.
Something feels slightly pathetic about the fact that I mitigate my understanding of my body via apps. I’ve been living in this body for 34 years and yet its workings are still pretty mysterious. (Sometimes random freckles still appear on skin that has never seen the sun!)
Maybe someday I will become that magical earth mother of my dreams, but until then, I will be tracking my weight, steps, and calories, setting my alarms, and consulting Dr. Google.