I was certain that if I was running faster and at my “ideal” weight my life would be perfect. I saw the attention other women got in my training group who were considered fast so I assumed they must be happy.
My goals seemed innocent enough, I just wanted to run an 8:30 minute/mile pace and be 15lb lighter.
I thought if I could achieve these two things I would feel more confident and worthy.
Tracking my calories or how fast I ran was not just gathering data, my self worth was determined by them.
If I beat my PR I had a good day but that could be quickly ruined if I went over my calories or the scale didn’t budge.
I thought happiness, confidence, and feeling worthy were only obtainable by achieving things, that these emotions were felt by something outside of me.
And for a moment I reached my weight loss goal and was running faster. I had everything I thought would make me happy and confident.
But like anything the excitement faded and I was left with feeling anxious about how to maintain it all. I was back where I started, letting these numbers dictate my emotional life.
I learned the hard way that most external things can’t make me feel worthy, happy, or enough for very long. And it was out of exhaustion that I surrendered trying to look a certain way because I was tired of putting my life on hold.
So I did the work of learning how to cultivate self acceptance and confidence internally.
Whether I had a good or bad day was no longer dependent on the size of my pants or if my pace improved.
Once I understood that I didn’t need to prove my worthiness, I no longer needed to step on the scale and I could take a rest day without guilt.
Today there are so many watches and apps that track our performance, sleep, calories, you name it!
Tracking progress can be a helpful tool as long as we’re not using the data as punishment if we miss our goals.
I recently bought a Garmin watch because I might run a half marathon (still undecided:) and I want to know the mileage of my runs. On my first run it showed me my pace which I haven’t measured in years and I saw I’m the slowest I’ve ever been.
In the past I would have felt embarrassment and shame.
But none of that came up for me, instead I took it in as neutral data and am excited to see what happens with a structured training plan. What I know for sure is I’ll enjoy running and challenging my body regardless of the result.
My relationship to running now is light, fun, and easy because there’s no pressure around how fast I’ll be or how many calories it burns.
I’m running slower today than I ever have but enjoy my life more than I ever did because:
My identity and self worth aren’t dependent on how I look or perform during a run.
I no longer use these numbers as evidence that I’m not good enough.
I run when it feels good, not because I’ll feel guilty if I don’t.
If you’re feeling like your fitness watch or the scale has too much influence on your emotional life here are some tips to get back control:
1. Get honest about why you’re tracking these numbers to begin with, is it for informational purposes only? Can you see the numbers as data and move on with your day without feeling bad? If the answer is no it’s time to explore what you make it mean about you.
2. Hide the scale (or just throw it out), delete the tracking apps, and take off the watch for a week to reconnect with your body’s cues. Measuring progress can be helpful but you shouldn’t be dependent on it to know what your body needs. Journal what comes up over the week, what was hard, what did you learn.