Want to improve your time? Skip the smartwatch

May 23, 2019

Want to improve your time? Skip the smartwatch

We're tempted to think that a smartwatch is the solution to all our problems when what we need to do is get back to basics and tune into our body.

There is a lot of competing information regarding best productivity practices. At the end of the day, we’re pitched mindfulness one minute and the next, we’re supposed to get out of our heads and instead use tech to be our best selves.

But when it comes to fitness, there are many that are buying into the concept of using smartwatches and devices to track every single statistic you can with a Garmin or Apple Watch, a fitbit or the like.

Here’s the thing, just like multitasking isn’t so healthy for focus, checking your smartwatch during your walk or run is much the same. It’s actually the opposite stance that will help you.

Checking a smartwatch will slow you down and take you out of your body if you will, right when you need to be connected to it and paying attention to how you’re feeling. If anything, it follows that a low tech, classic watch will help you avoid that temptation while you're running, walking or working out.

A smartwatch encourages the lack of connection to your body and reliance on an outside of the body experience. If you want to maximize your fitness, don’t underestimate the power of a good old fashioned workout without fancy tech.

Because when you don’t count on outside feedback but instead you tune into the rhythm of your body, you know when to push yourself even better and often more accurately than any smartwatch statistic can guide you. If you need to look at tech, you’re not focusing on the feedback your actual body is sending you about your performance and nothing is more accurate (of course there are exceptions to everything and if your doctor has you monitoring something about your heart rate etc., always consult your doctor before engaging in a fitness routine).

We already have everything we need to succeed in our movements. We're born with it. This knowledge is self-contained without a need for any outside crutch. The story we tell ourselves will empower us more than any digital readout ever will.

If you think of it like the “Force” in “Star Wars,” you’ll understand intuitively that you have to tune into yourself and not outside stimuli if you want to maximize results. You may better tune in to prevent injury without distraction.

But when you use a smartwatch as a crutch and get caught up in graphs and charts and data points, you may miss the critical point of the physical feedback your body is sending to prevent injury or to train you best by feel. If you beat yourself up or question your success mid-pace, you’re not focusing on the experience and you take your head out of the game.

Truth is we’re not computerized. We have good days and bad days. We know when we’re on and when we’re not. Nothing beats that awareness. If you concentrate on self-awareness and know when to push and when to conserve or correct your form instead of paying attention to facts and figures, your actual figure benefits because you’ll know when to allow for recovery and when you can push your limits. When we turn that over to a piece of tech, we lose much more than we gain in the moment.

Sure you can track your performance over time and see how accurate your gut is but the more you train and tune in, you’ll find the better you’ll become at estimating and improving your performance.

In fact, one key thing that we want to avoid is overtraining as we get older, especially because we can be prone to things like plantar fasciitis which is a common foot ailment. As a certified foot specialist, I know a prime time for this to happen is when we decide to become active after a long period of inactivity.

We don’t give ourselves a chance to warm up to the idea of say walking 5 miles as a tourist on vacation or spending time with a young relative that is in constant motion and taking us out of our comfort zone. We don’t notice the foot injury until it’s too late because we ignore the feedback from our body when we’re overdoing it too far and too fast.

It’s always a good idea to yes, be aware of metrics. It’s not that you shouldn’t track anything. Awareness is important. But you have to focus on awareness of the appropriate things at the appropriate time.

Trying to "laboratize" (no not a word, but one I just coined) your movements if you will, or turn yourself into some science experiment based on a trend or a diet or exercise guru has you living up to expectations that may not be right for you. You may aspire to some norm that is not healthy or vetted or may do more harm than good.

It’s much less of a risk to listen to your body than to try to impose random advice from tech, well-meaning friends, diets or trendy sources, even one sitting on your wrist.

So when in doubt, stick with a classic wristwatch. Don’t get caught up in the minutia of the route, the distance, the number of calories. Start with large broad low hanging fruit if you will. Set your intention to just move five minutes more today after work or even just putting on your walking/running shoes.

It’s actually a healthier and smarter step to start wearing your workout clothes than snapping on a smartwatch when a classic watch will not only do and but do better. Sure it’s an unpopular opinion in today’s tech-obsessed world. But sometimes going back to basics is all we need to get on track.

In fact, even putting an “X” on a calendar to mark a day you took the stairs every day instead of the elevator is a great step. There’s not much less techy you can get than “X” marking the spot. It can indeed be where the treasure lies to get us in the habit of taking care of ourselves. It’s almost free and it’s certainly doable on any budget.

Now there’s nothing wrong with enjoying some tech and feeling good about yourself if it makes you happy. It’s just that we get so caught up with the latest gadgets that we miss the simplicity that is at our fingertips and just works without charging a battery. We are in fact recharging ourselves and extending our life when we move.

And a key thing to improving our time on this Earth is checking in with ourselves, tuning in and not stuffing our emotions or distracting ourselves from what is.

We don’t need to numb ourselves with tech, social media, food, alcohol, pain killers etc. if we learn to feel comfortable in our own skin. Instead of running away with ourselves, if we can really sit with ourselves and understand what is important to us, we will find that we’re not so scary. The feelings we don’t want to recognize aren’t so scary.

And we’re pretty good at the root of things, handling things the best we can. We don’t need to wear a badge of tech like a smartwatch to go with the crowd. We don’t need to compete or one up ourselves. We can feel good about who we are right now.

If we can live in the moment, we have mastered time. And you don’t even need to look down at a classic wristwatch to do that. You need to feel. You need to listen to what’s inside and who is in front of you without worrying about what is coming next. Because a lot of the time, we don’t correctly guess what’s next.

If we worry about showing up to take care of ourselves and love ourselves, we’ll be more lovable because you can’t give what you don’t give yourself freely.

We worry so much about outside appearances that we lose focus of the most important things and that’s what is inside, the love and appreciation for ourselves right now as things are. We don't need to wait to love ourselves when we lose 5 pounds or 125 pounds. We're worthy right now and taking a few steps on a walk without having to prove anything to ourselves is really all we need to do to show ourselves love.

It’s really not about the selfies or the likes or the massive tuning in via tech. It’s not about any of that.

It’s about remembering those near and dear to you. It’s the sentiment and the journey and the intention of really not worrying about the future or the past but noticing the time we have right now. We don't need a smartwatch for that. We're smarter than that.

So when we’re working out and we are feeling every part of our body, even if it’s registering pain or shortness of breath or any sensation, we’re able to use all of our senses to make better-informed decisions. If we focus first on getting that right, then we can look at outside tech for additional information and be in a better place to judge it.

You want to improve your time? Improve your daily experience one baby step at a time. That means having conversations that are authentic and caring even when you don’t know someone because you’re looking at who is in front of you or even talking with yourself in your head. Observing our thoughts and letting them go and not checking out by checking our phones and our smartwatches is what will improve our time on this Earth.

We have much that we want to run away from and so maybe that’s why we’re drawn to all of these less important facts and data points than what is in reality right before us…like the next decision we must make.

Wearing a classic watch is like tying a string on a finger to remind us of what we shouldn’t forget. It’s not high tech but it may be the best tech for your heart and soul and even the time of your life.

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