Several times last year my less than 2 year old car refused to start. I would be out and about running errands, jamming the tunes and knocking things off my to do list and boom, I come out of the grocery store ready to move on to my next destination, out the key in the ignition and nothing.
The first time this happened I called roadside assistance. A very lovely man in a very large shiny tow truck navigated his way through the mall parking lot to locate me and proceeded to jump the battery. “Wow that’s a pretty new car to not be starting”, he commented. Yep! hashtag truth, tow guy. I cancelled my afternoon appointments and made my way to the dealership.
I was thrilled when they were able to take a look at my car immediately and an hour later, the service manager handed the keys back to me, “We’ve run the computer diagnostics and everything checks out as A-OK”.
Wonderful. Must have been a one time thing. Off I go, errand-ready once more.
Then it happened a second time. Dead car. The flow of my day again coming to a screeching halt and admittedly I am somewhat annoyed this time as I go through the motions of earlier in the week. Roadside assistance for jump: Check. Cancel plans: Check. Head to dealership: Check. In what continues to feel like a scene from the movie Groundhog Day, I am told that the car’s computer diagnostics show that all systems, including the battery, are FINE. I am *highly* skeptical as I drive away this time but figure, who am I to argue with this obviously advanced technology?
You can probably imagine that by the THIRD time this happens (all in the span of a week, I might add), I am pretty damn done. Many expletives make their way out of my mouth and I march into the service area with my Xena Warrior Princess energy ‘ablazin.
I do not even pretend to understand the inner workings of any kind of machinery or technology (a fact that both my internet service provider and the Apple tech people can attest to) but I find myself saying to the service manager, “THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH THE BATTERY! Can we PLEASE just change out the battery?”
Despite my take no prisoners attitude and what might have been mistaken for a Xena battle cry, the manager remains resistant to my pleas. “The computer is telling us it’s fine”, he keeps repeating. Finally we come to an agreement; one of the mechanics will take my car home with him for the weekend and see if by driving the vehicle, he can uncover what obviously must be a complex and mysterious problem.
Monday morning arrives and I am back at the dealership, Hurrah! The couch and coffee machine there have now started to feel far too much like home so I wait with eager anticipation for the service manager to fill me in on what they’ve found.
“We’ve replaced your battery with a brand new one”.
And? The flux capacitor was way off line? The holo-deck transmitter was jammed? (Oh wait that might be from Star Trek..)
Nope. None of the above. It seems as though after driving it all weekend, the brilliant mechanic decided that despite the digital feedback from the computer, my car was indeed behaving like a vehicle with a battery that was unable to hold a charge. Halle-effin-lujah. Someone has started to use their brain.
I remember when my parents would take their car to our family mechanic when I was young. I would listen to them describe to the best of their ability what seemed to be going wrong with our vehicle and then the first thing that mechanic would do would be to hop in the car and take it for a spin. Remember that?
Currently, we are a culture that is obsessed with external objective measurements. Especially technological ones and especially when it comes to our bodies and our health. Weight measurements. Heart rate measurements. Waist and hip measurements. Blood pressure measurements. Calorie measurements. Body fat measurements. Cholesterol measurements. And now the latest and greatest in the measurement technology world; daily step measurements. AKA, the “fit bit”.
What if, as in “The Case of the Undiagnosed Car Battery” above, we don’t actually NEED all these measurements to find a solution to our health and fitness problems? What if all these crazy numbers do is distract us from our real work which is to find the sense of celebration through movement that was once THE best intrinsic motivator of all?
Having moved through my own very difficult and troubled history with food and fitness, one which included a full blown addiction to exercise, I strongly believe we are missing the obvious here. The big picture? The simple and easy fix for our fitness angst? It won’t be found in the measurements or the numbers.
Because the numbers take us out of our bodies, my friends!
The numbers feed the metrics of our minds more than our muscles. (say that five times fast!) That little electric band on your arm actually links most directly to the ego and relying solely on it as motivation, inspiration and the “expert” on moving your body actually serves to dampen the inherent electric charge within that sparks and hums when you’re moving for the sake of movement itself.
You know who knows how many steps you need to take in a day? Your body.
It also knows when to rest. And what kind of exercise feels most like play. And when it feels good to work really hard or push yourself out of your comfort zone. Your body knows it all.
In my Fantasy Fitness utopia, I imagine teaching people how to connect with their spirit and their bodies instead of selling them more gadgets and false promises. In my dream world the measurements don’t matter anywhere near as much as the feelings and learning to allow our own natural rhythms to be our guide.
“So I should toss my fit bit?”, you’re asking. Gosh, no (unless that feels like freedom to you, then I’m all for it!) I am aware that there are many people out there that have found fitness trackers to be a helpful tool in inspiring more daily movement for themselves. My message is simply to remind you that they are just that; a tool. You won’t create a lasting, effortless and peaceful movement practice by handing it all over to a machine. Check in with your body! Start learning to decode it’s messages. In other words;
Get in the car and drive it.
Ask yourself the following questions: How does my body feel today?What kind of movement might feel joyful? What can I add to my exercise session today that makes it feel more like a celebration of my body and of life itself? Could it be music, nature, social connection, family? What do the measurements and numbers actually do for me? Are they enabling me to access the sensations of pleasure and joy or do they feel more like your fitness “parole officer” needing to be checked in with every day? What tools help me create movement sessions that are in service to my current overall vision for your life?
These are the questions I continue to explore as I forge my own path as somewhat of a fitness radical. It’s a path on which I question everything we think is right regarding fitness and health and I welcome any and all fellow travelers who are looking to do fitness a different way.