Living Free

“Technology is best when it brings people together.” – Matt Mullenweg

Sipping Fresh-Squeezed Lemonade in Carlsbad at the Flower Fields

I drafted out this blog post with the initial title, “Technology Takeover,” and though it’s the focus of this post, it’s not the outcome or solution. Something I’m trying to do more of is focus on the outcome instead of committing the problems or issues to memory. I’ve been absent from my blog, but instead of focusing on the time away from it, I’m going to focus on the fact that I’ve jumped back in and picked up like normal because that’s what matters. It’s one of the ways I’m trying to live freely.

Technology has taken our world by storm and is constantly evolving. It changes the way we interact with each other, it gives us everything we need in the palm of our hands, and it even gets food to our doorsteps in just a couple taps. It’s overwhelming to think about how much it can do sometimes, and it’s also daunting to think about the ways people can take advantage of it. One of the things I can’t stop thinking about lately is calorie counting—another product of technology advertised to lose weight and get “healthy.”

If you’ve read my blog before, you know that I’ve struggled with weight my whole life. I grew up in a family that didn’t prioritize eating healthy to nourish your body or working out because it was good for you. I don’t blame them; they didn’t have the tools themselves. But I used it as a learning opportunity to better myself because I grew up during a time when low-rise jeans, crop tops, and being magazine-thin (an unattainable goal that I was somehow expected to always strive for) were all status quo.

When I took my health into my own hands, I made big adjustments that I didn’t know were unsustainable at the time. I always thought I’d lose the weight, check it off the list, and move on to the next. But I quickly realized it wasn’t the case. Calorie counting apps had become popular as smart phones became the new device of choice and “everyone” had one. I figured I would try it out, but I was self-taught in all my health and fitness knowledge. I didn’t have someone to tell me the potential long-term, detrimental effects of calorie counting. It works for some people, and I’m glad if you’ve found success with it. But it didn’t work for me.

It made my relationship with food even worse and made me want to always strive for a smaller size, as if I was never going to be good enough as I am now. If you’re familiar with calorie counting apps, you know how exhausting it is to scan or manually enter every single food you eat in a day. It’s robotic and feels meaningless at times. I started feeling like a grocery store checkout scanner…like every food I ate would be scanned to get all its information and if I couldn’t “afford” it in my calorie budget, then it’d have to go back on the shelf. What kind of life is that? It’s not a life I wanted to live long term, but the fitness industry will have us believe that a caloric deficit is the only way to lose weight, which is also one of the biggest lies we’re sold. It’s a way we create unhealthy relationships with food and our bodies.

Our bodies are so smart, yet we silence them and allow technology to takeover and tell us what to do. The calorie apps prioritize quantity over quality. They can easily become obsessive and addictive. They tell us that we need to eat 1200 calories a day, which is absolutely ridiculous. And it doesn’t take into account all the external factors or activity in a given day. We’re taught to starve ourselves to lose weight and get in shape, yet it’s the most unhealthy practice we could take part in.

I counted calories for an entire year when I went through my weight loss journey a second time. I thought I was doing it the right way because I joined a program that had real people behind it and wasn’t a box set of DVDs and a nutritional guide with a bunch of food I didn’t like. But this way still didn’t work for me because it was unsustainable—in what way is tracking calories for an entire year sustainable? How was I ever supposed to be free from this app and maintain weight? I couldn’t because I wasn’t set up for success. We believe that these tools are helpful—and they can be—but they’re harmful if not used properly. It’s part of the reason why creating balance and boundaries with technology is so crucial. And working with certified, licensed professionals in the healthcare industry is pivotal. The web is saturated with health and fitness content—it’s critical to do research before believing anything we read online. We can never know if it’s true and checking sources has become paramount in our digitally-dominated world.

When I lost weight, I constantly thought back to how amazing I looked, but I never once thought about how I felt because I felt absolutely miserable. I tried to mute these feelings and block them out. The good looks made me feel better for a time until they didn’t anymore. Sure, it was great to step into my closet and feel like I didn’t have to search hard for an outfit because everything looked good and fit great, but I knew the second I stopped using these apps, I would gain the weight back. And to add to the uncertainty, we went through a pandemic that forced us to stay inside. It immediately limited physical activity, my depression and anxiety levels were the highest they’d ever been, and I saw the weight slowly invite itself back. Think about it though…genius on the calorie app’s part though incredibly deceptive…I lost weight using the app, but gained weight not using it. So, my brain automatically wanted to go back to the calorie app. That’s what worked, right? I should use that again. But no. I told myself I couldn’t do it anymore. I could not possibly live this way. I would go through the cycle of deleting and re-downloading the app constantly. I’d do it for a day or two and then realize I couldn’t do it anymore. It was making me miserable. It was exhausting and draining and it didn’t feel like life should be this way. There has to be more to life than losing weight and just paying the bills. We weren’t given this beautiful gift of life to do this.

These realizations are what made me decide I will never track another calorie in my lifetime. I stopped tracking calories this year—no more re-downloading and deleting apps because it’s gone for good in my mind. It’s been hard since my brain’s normal response is to go back to it when I’m at my most vulnerable, but I’ve said no to it several times. That’s incredibly strength, and I remind myself of that even when I’m feeling my weakest. I constantly think back to working with a registered dietitian for a short period of time. And her approach emphasized giving my body what it needs. Our bodies are smart. They know what we need and when we need it. Listen to your body.

So, I tried listening. It was incredibly hard at first to decipher wants from needs when it came to food because my whole life I had access to it. And even thinking about this made me reflect on the fact that so many others in this world experience food insecurity. It’s part of the reason why I started regularly donating to our local food banks. No one should have to wonder or worry where their next meal is coming from. It was this humbling realization that also made me realize I could do the work if I tried. I already have everything inside me to be successful; I just need to be proactive.

I started focusing on balance. I kept thinking of the 80/20 rule. I reminded myself that I will feel good and make a positive impact on my health if I focus on quality first by filling my body with wholesome, nourishing, and nutrient-dense foods. Eat the things that come from the earth first. The processed foods that are packaged and convenient to eat will always be there. Don’t buy into the five minutes of pleasure that will make you feel like crap later. Make a decision now that will positively impact your future both long and short term.

I’ve reached a point in my life where I’m starting to realize more frequently just how precious and valuable our lives are. And I’m not going to keep wasting time I’ll never get back on calorie apps or burning up my energy using technology in a way that doesn’t add value to my life. I’ll use it in a positive way that brings me closer to the people and things I love. We only get one shot at this, and as I continue to reach the end of my twenties—this will be the last year and I’m finally at the age where I have to do the math to validate my age is correct and that I’m, in fact, not hallucinating—these frequent reminders of how ephemeral life really is become more and more important. As a kid, I would always hear adults say that life goes by in the blink of an eye, and it’s finally starting to resonate with me. I’m still young and I’ve still got time, but that doesn’t mean I’ll sit here wasting it. It means I’m going to continue to live freely and create the life that I so deeply deserve. ✨

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