I’ve been using a Heart Rate Monitor (HRM) for better than two years now—every workout, every time, like clockwork—but this week, I’ve decided to forgo that device for two reasons: 1) I’m dealing with some knee wonkiness. It’s not pain or swelling, or anything of that sort, something just feels “off” enough that my instincts are telling me to slow things down for a bit and concentrate on stretching and strength training. Now, I won’t skip the cardio bit completely, but I won’t be doing the high impact stuff I’ve grown accustomed to either—at least not this week.
And 2) I was beginning to get too caught up with the numbers. Working out feels great to me, but the attention to every detail, of every workout, day in and out, was starting to wear on my motivation. I could feel myself getting into a defeatist attitude where if I didn’t accomplish a set number of calories burned, calories per minute, max heart rate, etc., then I considered the session a complete and utter failure. In other words, my obsession was becoming an unhealthy one because it was starting to affect the personal views I hold about myself.
Never mind the fact that I was doing my level best each time I slipped on my trainers, the numbers were all I cared about…to hell with everything else. That’s just not healthy, people. It’s not.
Listen, I cannot deny that fitness is about progress. We all want to see the positive changes we’ve made manifest themselves in the mirror, but unless you’re an Olympian, or a fitness competitor, you shouldn’t feel obligated to bow down to a number—be it on a scale, a watch, or the waistline of your jeans; and you have to feel confident that every step you’ve taken towards good health is one that will payoff in the end.
Somewhere along the way, I began to forget why I started doing this at all, and that nearly made me want to give it up altogether. That would’ve been a sad end for me because fitness really has become an important part of my daily life. I don’t know where I’d be without it and that’s the truth. My workouts, over the years, have been akin to a meditation: giving me balance and peace during the toughest of times.
Fit is life.
That said, will I go back to using my HRM? Absolutely! I still love it as a tool for measuring intensity and effort; but I will no longer allow myself to be a slave to the numbers on its screen. In the end, I am doing this for me and, in my mind, “progress”, at this point, is so much more than a fucking number on a tiny screen.