What I Learned from One Day Without a Fitness Tracker

January 23, 2024 Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer

Recently, I posed a challenge to myself to see if I could tolerate one day without a fitness tracker. This experiment should have been simple: Just set the device aside, then continue with all my normal activities for about 12 hours. The key phrase here is "should have been simple." But to be honest, it was so painfully difficult. Here's why I took on this endeavor—plus the humbling lessons I learned from one day without a fitness tracker. 

Why I Chose to Spend One Day Without a Fitness Tracker

My fitness tracker is usually attached to me like another appendage. I have lost count of how often I glance at this device out of sheer unconscious habit. I am hooked on watching the number of miles, steps, calories, and other exercise metrics increase over the course of each day. I crave the instant relief and intense pleasure that comes from being in continual motion. But as someone who is also in eating disorder recovery, I cannot ignore an obvious, uncomfortable truth. This reliance on my fitness tracker is both compulsive and unhealthy—it has been for a long time.

Over the past few years, I have tried to rationalize this behavior in all sorts of different ways. As it turns out, I am quite an easy person to convince. I've been able to reassure (or, more accurately, deceive) myself with classic eating disorder justifications like this one: 

"I consume enough food to sustain a high level of exertion, so what does it matter if I'm constantly active? After all, it isn't harming anyone—I am just passionate about exercise." 

Famous last words, right? A week ago, this "harmless" fitness tracker obsession escalated into a moment of reckoning when I hurt the person I love most—my own husband. Unintentionally, he elbowed my fitness tracker off the edge of our bathroom counter and into the sink, immersing it in water. For the next several hours, it was entirely unresponsive, which sent me into a panic. Anxiety took over, and one thought spiraled on an interminable, torturous loop: 

"How will I know if I'm active enough?"  

I could not have cared less that my husband's error was purely accidental. I lashed out at him with so much vitriol that it shocked both of us. At that moment, I realized my habit was far from innocuous. It was inflicting harm, and now I had a responsibility to course-correct the behavior. So, I embarked on my experiment—one day without a fitness tracker.   

Here's What I Learned from One Day Without a Fitness Tracker

I completed this challenge successfully (albeit with much inner turmoil), so in the following video, I want to share a few valuable insights I learned from one day without a fitness tracker:

(Note: This video is restricted to 18 and older because of Youtube's policies on eating disorders.)

Is there a certain behavior, habit, or compulsion you want to overcome to continue making important strides in eating disorder recovery? Whether it's learning how to tolerate one day without a fitness tracker or pursuing another milestone that scares you, each incremental action step can lead to such a meaningful outcome. Please feel free to share some of your own recent lessons from recovery in the comment section below. 

APA Reference
Schurrer, M. (2024, January 23). What I Learned from One Day Without a Fitness Tracker, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, May 30 from

Author: Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer

Connect with Mary-Elizabeth on Facebook, Instagram and her personal blog.

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