The activities we regard as fitness are synonymous with a scale of numbers – how much weight we lift, how many repetitions we do, how many points we score, how far we travel, how long we spend doing it, how many times we do it each week and what we weigh, to name a few.
But we should consider that sometimes the numbers in fitness are not always a good thing and can be to the detriment of our relationship with our bodies and our enjoyment of those fitness activities?
Numbers can make us feel defeated, they make us compare ourselves to others, and they can make us feel like we have not progressed especially if we are not feeling 100%. If you look at scales as a means to measure progress in your physical goals you might not see any reduction in the number on the scale when you begin an exercise regime. Yet your clothes fit differently, you feel good, have lots of energy and you don’t get out of breath so easily. However these gains are negated by the perception that the number on the scales is all that matters.
Is something like an innocent little ‘Fitbit’ (other fitness trackers are available) making us out of touch with our health and fitness because we rely on what the screen tells us as a measure of success, when it is meant to be doing the opposite?
I think it is important to learn and understand what feels like a good state for your own body. I’m not opposed to numbers in fitness. It can be really rewarding to measure progress, to finish that next race and less intimidating in the gym to know that when you grab a hand weight, it is going to be one you are comfortable with. But I propose that sometimes it is good to take a break from the numbers in fitness.
When you stop counting, take off your watch, throw out your scales and take a break from the programme you’ve been adhering to, you have to develop your senses so that you can answer the question – what does my body need?
When I talk to people about my own product, the Sandpac I nearly always get asked how much it weighs when filled or given the suggestion that perhaps a little measure would be useful. But I wanted to make a product that would help women get fit naturally by listening to how their body felt rather than thinking about numbers. So you simply fill it up and feel as you go through the movements of your workout, adding or taking away sand as you require.
I think that you have to train yourself to be able to listen to your body. It takes effort and discipline to learn to differentiate between stopping because you are tired or because you are bored. It takes courage to modify our weights or speed because our body is not strong enough. It takes patience to slow your stretch routine down. But by developing our listening skills we will be able to identify weaknesses in the body that need work, tightness or pain that needs attention and help ourselves to become stronger and enjoy fitness more.